Special Olympics Florida’s Champions Gala was held at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort on Saturday, October 6. This annual event presented by Publix recognizes Special Olympics Florida’s most deserving athletes, coaches, volunteers and community partners while raising awareness and funds to support the more than 48,000 athletes served statewide. 

Hosted by Jim Payne and Meredith McDonough of WESH 2 News, award presenters included sports icons Aaron Gordon, Johnny Damon and Raja Bell. 

“It’s nice. It’s these athletes who are able to express themselves through their bodies and they learn so much through sports, just like we did, all of us in here [Magic locker room],” Gordon said.

This year’s gala comes with some special news. CEO Sherry Wheelock announced Central Florida will be gearing up to host the Special Olympics USA Games in 2022.

“It’s going to be a great time to celebrate the human spirit, and I think it’s going to be the largest humanitarian event of this type in all of Florida,” Wheelock said.


Hosted by WESH 2’s Jim Payne & Meredith McDonough

Special Performance by Central Florida’s own Sisaundra Lewis & her All-Star Band.  Sisaundra Lewis is an International Recording Artist, Grammy Award Nominee and top eight Finalist on Season Six of NBC’s “The Voice”.

Reception and Silent Auction performance by Felix J. Deneau Jr. “A Tribute to Dean Martin