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.
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 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
Every day, Special Olympics Florida works to break-down barriers and stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities. That’s why we should all celebrate nine-year-old Kayla Kosmalskin’s featured appearance on a Miami runway for a Gap fashion show. Kosmalskin, who has Down syndrome, was one of thirteen models featured. Read More
It’s still early at Higgs Beach in Key West, Florida as people begin to arrive. Volunteers are busy unloading boards and setting up tables and buoys for the stand-up paddle (SUP) board course. The sun is out and it’s perfect Florida Keys weather for a SUP race.
Last fall, that bright sunrise had given way to balmy weather with enough wind to create a light chop. But those few waves didn’t deter the nearly 100 Special Olympics athletes who were eager and laughing on the beach – their enthusiasm bubbling over, they’re prepped by their certified coaches who help them read the water.
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.
As we strive to deliver the mission of Special Olympics in Florida our focus rests heavily on providing quality competitions, programs and sponsor experiences across the state. The idea of continuous improvement in each of these areas underpins daily decisions as we reflect on the past and plan for our future. Results of our efforts have been especially evident as we head into the summer months. 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