Special Olympics Florida is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2017. As we look back, we can see how our organization has not only grown, but has also been a powerful voice for people with intellectual disabilities in Florida for almost half a century.
As December 31st draws near, it is clear this has been a year of transformational impact for Special Olympics Florida. Our athletes are succeeding on and off the playing field and have a bigger stage than ever to showcase their abilities. Here are just a few of the highlights from 2016.
With the holiday season upon us, 2017 is not far behind. New Year’s Day stands as a holiday that welcomes in a new year of opportunity for all. The opportunities are endless with a new year in mind, regardless of the set-backs in the previous year. It is a day that represents a new beginning for those who want it. Opportunities in the new year include healthy lifestyle changes in exercise, mental health, and diet.
The New Year’s resolution…we hear about it, talk about it, but do we ever actually pull through with it? 2017 can be the year of change for those who crave it.
Competition and training are at the core of Special Olympics. It’s through sports that our athletes realize their potential and become champions. At Special Olympics Florida, we now serve 30,000 athletes statewide, a record only possible thanks to the families, volunteers and donors whose shared belief in revealing champions makes our movement possible. As we celebrate 2015, I want to personally thank everyone who has dedicated their talents to helping our grassroots movement grow. Read More
The following is a guest post from Herley Pellew, Manager of Special Olympics Florida’s Project UNIFY.
Special Olympics Florida Fall Classic is the culminating celebration and competition for athletes, partners, and coaches participating in bowling, cheerleading, gymnastics, powerlifting, softball, and unified flag football. Fall Classic takes place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex November 13th-14th. With the additions of cheerleading and flag football to this year’s festivities, 2015 Fall Classic will have over 2,200 total athletes, partners, and coaches attending and sets itself up to be the biggest one yet. Aside from the numerous competitions simultaneously taking place, Healthy Athletes will also be conducting health screenings for all participants. Healthy Athletes will be able to conduct screenings in all six disciplines due to the generosity of over 450 health professional volunteering for this event. Screenings will be conducted in Fun Fitness, Fit, Feet, Healthy Hearing, Heathy Promotions, Opening Eyes, and Special Smiles.
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
According to a study done by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults with disabilities are 3 times more likely to have heart disease, strokes, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities. Additionally, the United States Surgeon General pointed out that people with disabilities often receive sub-par health care. The free medical screenings provided at the Special Olympics Healthy Community cannot only help detect small health problems before they get worse but are also an easy alternative to the lacking health care available to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Read More
It’s March, and that probably means that a lot of us have already broken our New Year resolutions to get healthier. But that’s OK, because it’s never too late to get back on track. Your health is really important, so that’s why we want to offer everyone a chance to ‘Get Fit.’
Special Olympics Get Fit for Sports is a nation-wide program that falls under a national campaign called the President’s Challenge. Get Fit for Sports is designed to help everyone associated with Special Olympics get active and fit to promote healthy lifestyles through regular physical activity, sports participation, and healthy eating.
We’re in our second year of Get Fit for Sport and Florida needs your help. Read More
The following is a guest post from Karlyn Emile, Director of the Special Olympics Florida Healthy Community location in South Florida.
Healthy Community is a premier health care delivery approach that focuses on the whole person with an intellectual or developmental disability. At Special Olympics Florida and Healthy Community, we believe that good health is necessary for these individuals to secure the freedom to work, learn, and better engage with their families and communities. For these reasons, Special Olympics Florida compiled specific goals and objectives to ensure the success of the newly launched Healthy Community in Hollywood, FL after it opened its doors for the first time in February 2013. Those goals include the following: Read More
The following is a Letter to the Editor written by Special Olympics Florida CEO/President Sherry Wheelock and published in the Miami Herald on January 2, 2014. This letter was in response to a Christmas Day profile of Emmitt McCoy, a Miami athlete.
Emmitt McCoy, a vibrant Miami man who has an intellectual disability and a set of broken dentures he can’t afford to replace, was profiled in the Miami Herald’s Wish Book story on Christmas day. McCoy’s story resonates deeply with me not just because he is a Special Olympics athlete but also because it sheds light on an all-too-common occurrence: People with intellectual and developmental disabilities get inferior healthcare — if and when they get it — even though most people believe the opposite. Statistically, people with intellectual disabilities are one of the largest and most medically under-served disability groups in the world. Read More