Attending the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria was one of the most amazing Special Olympics experiences in my 43 years of being involved with the organization. Meeting athletes, families, and volunteers from around the world renewed my faith in humanity. Everyone I met talked about how Special Olympics has had a positive impact on their lives.
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.
It spread through the crowd like wildfire: “Can you hear it?” The “it” was the distant sound of sirens. This sound can often provoke unsettling emotions in people, but this time, it sent 4,000 athletes, coaches, volunteers, and spectators into a state of nearly unbearable anticipation.
It is officially Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, a movement dedicated to promoting progress and inclusion in our communities. We know Individuals with disabilities have qualities and abilities that can be used to positively contribute to society. This March, we have the opportunity to ensure Florida’s disability community is educated on the resources available to them.
Special Olympics Florida relies on the hard work and dedication of more than 27,000 volunteers of all walks of life. These volunteers give their time and energy to make a difference in the lives of our athletes, fans, and communities. David Barocas, the President of Special Olympics Florida at the University of Central Florida (UCF), is one such volunteer who has been making a difference for more than seven years.
Stacy is an exceptional Special Olympics Florida athlete who thrives through sports training and competition, as well as Athlete Leadership training programs.
Special Olympics Florida is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2017. As we look back, we can see how our organization has not only grown, but has also been a powerful voice for people with intellectual disabilities in Florida for almost half a century.
Each month we will be highlighting one of our incredible athletes. The February Athlete of the Month is Jared from Sumter County. Check out his video!
Ordray is a Tampa native who shines on and off the soccer field. He started participating in Special Olympics Florida soccer when he was a freshman at Land O Lakes High School. His team was selected to compete in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games and brought home the Bronze Medal.
In celebration of Black History Month, Special Olympics Florida will be recognizing the achievements of one African American athlete each week in February. The second athlete is Tajha from Immokalee, Florida.