Special Olympics Florida

Athlete Profiles

Volunteer Spotlight: The Misso Family

Posted on August 4, 2015 | Posted in Athlete ProfilesUncategorized

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In 2013, the Misso family relocated from Chicago to Lee County, Florida. Perry & Mickey’s daughter, Kara, had been involved with Special Olympics for 20+ years back home and they wanted to continue that tradition when they moved. So like many people do, they Googled Special Olympics Florida and found their local County Directory.  When they asked how much it would be for Kara to join, they learned that no one is ever charged a fee to participate – from that moment they were all in with Special Olympics Florida.

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Athletes Who Embody Sportsmanship With Joy

Posted on July 31, 2015 | Posted in Athlete ProfilesSports

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Every two years, Special Olympics athletes come together to compete at the Special Olympics World Games. This summer, over 6,500 athletes from 165 countries will descend upon Los Angeles to show the true meaning of courage, joy and determination. Special Olympics Florida is proud to have 16 athletes represent the USA at this competition – below are their stories. 

Focused is an understatement when describing Special Olympics USA’s Unified Soccer team’s mentality before their big game against the Czech Republic on Thursday. Representing the USA, the Florida team played with extreme intensity as they hustled after the ball. Fans described it as an exhilarating game – the score was tied at zero until the second half when the Czech Republic scored, putting them in the lead. Soon after, Haley made an amazing goal for the USA that caused the crowd to roar with excitement. Kyle and Andrew also made shots at the goal that had the fans on their feet. However, the Czech Republic was able to come back with another goal, ultimately claiming the victory over the team from Special Olympics USA. All athletes played with great concentration and sportsmanship, making it a game to be proud of. Today’s results mean that Special Olympics USA will play China in their chance to take home a bronze medal.  Read More »


Equestrian Athlete Takes Home Silver Medal

Posted on July 30, 2015 | Posted in Athlete ProfilesSports

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Every two years, Special Olympics athletes come together to compete at the Special Olympics World Games. This summer, over 6,500 athletes from 165 countries will descend upon Los Angeles to show the true meaning of courage, joy and determination. Special Olympics Florida is proud to have 16 athletes represent the USA at this competition – below are their stories. 

Special Olympics Florida’s equestrian athlete Christina eloquently rode in her first competition at the World Games yesterday, earning Special Olympics USA a silver medal. Earlier in the week, Christina, who is vision and hearing impaired, was paired with a white horse named Stormy whom she likes very much and handled with grace. Christina was relaxed before her first competition and rode Stormy with ease. Her posture, diagonals, and leads were all executed with confidence and grace, which led her to a second place finish. Almost more important is that Christina completed her performance feeling ecstatic about the way she rode, with the biggest smile on her face and cheers from friends and family in the stands. Today, she rides for her dressage test, where a horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements. Christian shares her lifelong passion for horses with the team from Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, where she not only trains but volunteers, and who was also there to applaud her silver medal win.

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Unified Bowlers Take Home the Gold

Posted on July 29, 2015 | Posted in Athlete ProfilesSports

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Every two years, Special Olympics athletes come together to compete at the Special Olympics World Games. This summer, over 6,500 athletes from 165 countries will descend upon Los Angeles to show the true meaning of courage, joy and determination. Special Olympics Florida is proud to have 16 athletes represent the USA at this competition – below are their stories. 

Special Olympics USA Unified Bowling pair Aaron Freitag and Alexio Bautista competed today against eight other teams at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. After coming out strong yesterday and winning the gold, the duo hoped to keep up the pace and win another medal. Although they didn’t perform as well as they hoped the last frame of the second game Aaron bowled an incredible three strikes in a row lifting his and his partner’s spirits. As for Aaron’s final competition at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, he said, “I had a really fun time coming and if I ever get the chance again I will definitely go for it.” Later today Alex will participate in the Unified Experience, a series of individual non-official Special Olympics competition activities with some of the biggest names in professional sports. Alex will compete in his final bowling competition on FridayRead More »


Breaking Records and Stereotypes at Special Olympics World Games

Posted on July 29, 2015 | Posted in Athlete ProfilesSports

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Every two years, Special Olympics athletes come together to compete at the Special Olympics World Games. This summer, over 6,500 athletes from 165 countries will descend upon Los Angeles to show the true meaning of courage, joy and determination. Special Olympics Florida is proud to have 16 athletes represent the USA at this competition – below are their stories. 

Confident, focused, and relaxed, Florida athlete Andy Miyares was more than ready for his 4 x 100 Freestyle relay on Tuesday. Only two seconds away from beating the Netherlands, not to mention making a new personal record, he knew he had to swim his absolute fastest. “We are trying to get the first place,” said Andy. The relay was intense and Andy did an amazing job in closing the gap between the USA and the other teams, bringing the Special Olympics USA relay team from third place to second. “Aquatics did fantastic!” said Andy. His hard work paid off and his team went on to achieved their fastest time by five seconds and receive a silver medal. Read More »


Work Hard, Play Hard at the Special Olympics World Games

Posted on July 27, 2015 | Posted in Athlete ProfilesIntellectual Disabilities

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Every two years, Special Olympics athletes come together to compete at the Special Olympics World Games. This summer, over 6,500 athletes from 165 countries will descend upon Los Angeles to show the true meaning of courage, joy and determination. Special Olympics Florida is proud to have 16 athletes represent the USA at this competition – below are their stories. 

In an experience bigger and better than any before, Special Olympics Florida’s Unified Soccer Team from Pasco County takes on the world at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Today, athletes participate in games that determine what division they will play later this week. “There were more people in the crowd than usual,” said Joseph Trammel about their first unified soccer match against China. “I wasn’t nervous at all.” Confidence is key and it definitely paid off today when his team, representing Special Olympics USA, played an intense first game against China, closing it out with a tie of zero. Joseph played his hardest in this game as power forward and said “Work hard, play hard!” Tomorrow his team will play Liechtenstein.

Tune in to ESPN2 at 7 pm ET for nightly competition updates throughout the week.

Special Olympics Florida athletes at World Games

Joseph and team at Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremonies in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Pasco County Schools

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Sports, Autism and Special Olympics

Posted on April 1, 2015 | Posted in Athlete LeadershipAthlete Profiles

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The following is a guest post from Special Olympics Florida President/CEO Sherry Wheelock. 

Not only is April a big month for baseball, with Opening Day celebrated today in stadiums around the country, but April is also Autism Awareness Month, which makes it a perfect time to introduce you to one very accomplished Special Olympics athlete: Malcom.  Read More »


Meet our Coaches! (Part 2 of 2)

Posted on August 1, 2014 | Posted in Athlete ProfilesSports

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While athletes are at the heart of our organization, our volunteers are its backbone. That’s why each year at State Summer and State Fall Games, Special Olympics Florida honors the coaches who have inspired others to reveal their inner champions. Called the Inspirational Athlete & Coach award, it is a chance to celebrate the dedication and passion that our volunteer coaches bring to Special Olympics Florida.

Coach Lois Simpson-Leino from Manatee County

Lois Simpson-Leino began participating in Special Olympics Florida in February 2013 after researching online and deciding that it was a great way to share her love of sports, especially volleyball, swimming and basketball, with others. The people she has met along the way have been Lois’ favorite part of coaching with Special Olympics Florida. As she puts it, “Every moment with Special Olympics has been full of laughter and excitement. Win or lose, every athlete and coach knows that as long as we tried our best and had fun, that is all that matters.” Lois even recently started learning sign language in order to communicate with one of her hearing-impaired athletes. Read More »


Meet our Coaches! (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on July 25, 2014 | Posted in Athlete ProfilesSports

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While athletes are at the heart of our organization, our volunteers are its backbone. That’s why each year at State Summer and State Fall Games, Special Olympics Florida honors the coaches who have inspired others to reveal their inner champions. Called the Inspirational Athlete & Coach award, it is a chance to celebrate the dedication and passion that our volunteer coaches bring to Special Olympics Florida.

Coach Lenora Deonath from Marion County

In the ten years since her son began competing, Lenora Deonath has dedicated her time to improving the lives of Special Olympics athletes. Lenora has numerous sports under her belt, including Bowling, Aquatics, Basketball, Golf, Softball, Volleyball, Cycling, Athletics, and the newest – Stand-Up Paddle. Lenora says her favorite part of Special Olympics is working with athletes, teaching them new skills, and practicing with them throughout each season. She’s considered a competition veteran, having been to the State Summer Games four times. However, this year was her first time as head coach of the Volleyball team and as Lenora explains, “each time at State Summer Games has been a unique experience”. Special Olympics has drawn Lenora’s family together, allowing each member to support one another whenever someone needs it. As Lenora mentions, “Special Olympics has been the best thing to happen in my life, not just because of my son but because all the athletes that I get to work with.” Read More »