What started as a simple interaction and discussion about leadership between Tampa Bay Buccaneers star quarterback Jameis Winston and Special Olympics Florida athlete Jacob Sare, quickly turned into a moment of a lifetime for several dozen Special Olympics athletes.
Jameis’ genuine interest in Jacob’s passion for leadership and sports inspired him to extend a personal invitation to Special Olympics Florida athletes to attend the Jameis Winston Youth Football ProCamp presented by Citibank in the Tampa area. On May 20 and 21, our athletes ran skills and learned new drills side by side with their Unified partners (individuals who compete in Special Olympics without an intellectual disability) and other typical peers. They enjoyed not only building new skills, but also had fun making new friends and harnessing the leadership being shared by Jameis.
Special Olympics Florida athlete Anna Shoop described her day at the camp, “Jameis was super awesome. I was the only girl on my team, and he told me I can throw. I love football and love going to camp.”
The camp provided our athletes the opportunity to improve their sports capability and offered them a platform to show the community what they can do. This event brought individuals of all abilities together in the spirit of inclusion to show we are all more alike than different.
Jameis Winston’s offer to include our athletes in his camp has had a positive impact on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and reflects the work of a true champion. On behalf of Special Olympics Florida, thank you, Mr. Winston for your leadership in our mission and community.
Written by: Sherry Wheelock, President and CEO, Special Olympics Florida