In sports, success is often judged by an individual’s or team’s win record, but we believe that everyone is a winner at Special Olympics Florida. Athletes who train hard for competition and come away with a gold medal or trophy should be given the credit they are due, but we must also celebrate that success doesn’t necessarily mean taking home a win for everyone.
The month of November will be jam-packed with competitions and events throughout the state for Special Olympics Florida. Headlined by the 2016 State Fall Classic, Special Olympics Florida will also host two Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) League Play tournaments and the 2nd Annual Unified Rivalry Game between Florida State University and the University of Florida.
These last couple of weeks have brought some of the most amazing experiences of my life. I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Orlando City Soccer Club Special Olympics Unified team, and I was selected, alongside my teammate Cesar Aponte, to represent Orlando City in the MLS Works/Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match. This experience included being flown out to both San Jose and Chicago, fully decked out in Orlando City gear, to compete with partners and athletes representing different delegations from all around the country.
All eyes have been glued to Rio for the past two weeks. Both the U.S. men’s and women’s 4×100-meter swimming medley relay teams won the gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics. The medley relay race perfectly exemplifies the power of uniting athletes’ unique strengths to achieve more than any one person could by him or herself.
As the president and CEO of Special Olympics Florida, I have been able to witness a movement growing here in Florida and throughout the world through Special Olympics Unified Sports. As in the swimming medley, Special Olympics Florida is bringing together athletes of diverse abilities to bring about incredible change. Read More
Running can be freeing, exciting, and fun—it can also be utterly terrifying. Special Olympics Florida athlete Cheyenne knows what it’s like to run under both circumstances. By age ten, she had run away 33 times. Teachers and doctors described her as obstinate, wild, and a chronic eloper.
Thanks to the dedication of her adoptive parents and doctors at Emery University, Cheyenne was tested and diagnosed with cognitive delays. She was weaned off medication, placed in a class with students like her, and introduced to Special Olympics. Read More
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.
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
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.