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.
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.
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.
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 first athlete is Kenyatta Johnson, the Special Olympics Florida 2016 Athlete of the Year.
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.
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.