Written by: Emmett Hall, Special Correspondent via Sun Sentinel
Lee Scharf and Gina Grant know all about winning and they are going to rely on that experience as members of the Special Olympics USA team that will travel to Abu Dhabi for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, March 14-21 featuring competition in 24 sports.
Special Olympians Gina Grant and Lee Scharf will be heading to the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi to compete in the open water swimming and pool events.
Scharf, of Pompano Beach, and Grant, of Pembroke Pines, are multi-dimensional athletes who are just as comfortable on snow skis as they are competing in water competitions. However, it is in the water that the athletes will be shooting for the gold.
The two athlete have teamed up before in a two-person relay team in which they took first place in an ocean swim from Nevis to St. Kitts. It was the longest ocean swim they have ever done. They have also competed in many swimming events in the pool and local ocean swims. It is in the open water swim that they been selected to compete.
An estimated 7,000 Special Olympics atheltes will be in attendance with 2,600 coaches, 20,000 volunteers and up to 500,000 spectators. It also will be televised.
Scharf has been with Special Olympics for 30 years, while Grant has been with the organization for 12 years. The athletes have been selected as representatives of the Special Olympics USA teams before and have each been honored as Special Olympics Florida – Broward County Athletes of the Year.
Gina Grant and Lee Scharf at the World Games training camp at the University of Delaware
“The best part of being in Special Olympics is that I have so many friends,” Scharf said. “We play sports together and have fun socializing.”
The two athletes have benefited from being members of the organization that has provided them with the opportunity to compete in a variety of sports. This has all been made possible through donations from supporters.
Special Olympics Florida will be sending 22 athletes and Unified partners to the games and financial support is needed.