The following is a guest post from Harrison Long, a Special Olympics Florida volunteer and student at Palm Harbor University High School in Florida.
This may create uneasiness while reading, but I have to be candid to share my story. We have all been around that “cool kid” who uses words like crippled, handicapped, slow, stupid or retarded to address an individual with a disability. I am embarrassed to say, when I was younger I may have been one of those kids too. I was one of those people who saw the disability before I saw the actual person. I was quick to make the assumption; these kids are inept and incapable. I had friends who would poke fun at these individuals. I wasn’t strong enough to put a stop to it or maybe I just wasn’t impassioned enough to do so. However, that all changed for me in middle school when a powerful experience helped me recognize who the “cool kids” really were. Read More
Within Special Olympics there are Athlete Leaders who have taken responsibility for acting as the voice of Special Olympics within their community. Athlete Leaders are an important part of the Special Olympics movement. Through sports they are empowered to share their passion with others. Special Olympics Florida has nearly 300 Athlete Leaders, including Malcom from St. Lucie County, Florida. Malcom has a goal of becoming an official sportscaster and has written about some of his favorite experiences with the hope that other athletes will be inspired by his journey.
My Name is Malcom Harris-Gowdie and I am an Athlete Leader from St. Lucie County, Florida. My experience as an Athlete Leader has been amazing. I have gotten to attend Global Messenger Training at WESH-TV studios in Orlando to do a PSA and be interviewed by news anchor Jim Payne. Athlete Leaders also learn how important it is to be a fundraiser, attend trainings and to get involved in Athlete Congress. Being an Athlete Leader has helped me with confidence and learning how to have a voice on issues that affect the athlete population in Special Olympics Florida. Read More
The following is a guest post from a Special Olympics Florida volunteer.
Thanks to Special Olympics, I have a new appreciation for dragons. While volunteering for the Summer Games this past May, I met an athlete named Mary who spent an hour taking me deep into another realm, teaching me everything I could ever want to know about these mystical creatures. She told me about the various species and their characteristics, along with which video games I could find them featured in, just in case I ever wanted to experience their awesomeness first hand. Before meeting Mary, I never would have given dragons a second thought, but now I can’t imagine why I never had an interest in them in the first place. She spoke of them with so much excitement that I couldn’t help but be entranced – not only by the dragons and their endless magical abilities, but also by my new friend. Read More
It has been another transformational quarter for our organization. We started the summer by cheering for 16 of our athletes competing at the global level representing the USA at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. The world watched as our athletes achieved their personal best and shared moments of celebration throughout the competition. The ESPN broadcast was seen by over 20.16 million people in the US and by another 1.8 million online, as ESPN’s website also helped to amplify the games through digital and social media.
Our summer sports, including Stand-Up Paddle, Surfing, Golf and Aquatics, were filled with many more new opportunities and new faces. Athlete participation was up 9% overall in these sports, growth supported by our incredible 2,270 coaches statewide. We hosted State Stand-Up Paddle competition in a new watersports venue on Florida’s West Coast, Nathan Benderson Park, and celebrated our tenth year of aquatics competition at the North County Aquatics Center in South Florida. Once again our friends at Ron Jon, Disney and the Indian River Recreational department did a fabulous job providing engaging volunteers and sharing their industry knowledge to enhance our summer competitions. A special thank you to all the county directors, coaches, program team and head of delegations for your leadership – we couldn’t do it without you! Read More
Fifteen year-old Javier is from Osceola County and looked forward to attending State Aquatics competition in Sebastian with 16 other athletes from his county. With nearly 400 athletes competing throughout the weekend it was one of the largest swim competitions Special Olympics Florida ever hosted.
Together, his team took home several medals and not only did Javier earn two gold medals but his four person unified relay team also took home a silver! Even though winning medals is fun, Javier shares that his favorite part of the competition was swimming his personal best during the 400m individual medley.
The event was made even more special as he had his mom, sisters, aunt and uncle there to cheer him on! We’re excited to celebrate Javier and all the athletes who came out to demonstrate their skill and commitment to swimming.