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.
Cheers and excitement radiated from Starke, Florida, on December 9 when friends and family gathered around to watch 65 athletes compete for the chance at first place. The Bradford County School Board and Special Olympics Florida – Bradford County hosted their second annual School Roster track and field meet at Bradford High School. From 25-meter assisted walk to 100-meter relay, brave athletes pushed to do their best in every event they attempted.
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.
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.
Acts of kindness – no matter how big or small – have the power to inspire and change lives beyond what we can imagine. One young man’s recent generosity moved those around him and multiplied his gift.
The Konopik family from Collier County recently purchased a new car at Tamiami Hyundai. After their purchase, they were given the opportunity to take their chances in the free “money machine,” a booth with a wind tunnel that throws cash around for the participant to grab.
The Konopik’s 11-year old son Jonathan entered the money machine and was able to snatch $131. Read More
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
Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team and playing field. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
Last month, Special Olympics Florida held its second Youth Summit at the University of South Florida. The Youth Summit provides Special Olympics Florida athletes and Unified partners the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills, learn inclusionary tools, and have an overall fun weekend together. Read More