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.
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.
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
Incorporating physical activity into young children’s lives is the key to creating a foundation of movement and activity that they will carry with them into their futures. Physical activity is essential for children with and without special needs alike as it promotes a healthy lifestyle, but can benefit children with autism in extraordinary ways. Read More