Special Olympics Florida held its annual Champions’ Gala, presented by Publix, at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando. Award-winning news anchors for WESH 2 News, Jim Payne and Meredith McDonough hosted the event celebrating the organization’s 45th anniversary with a special performance by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Cheap Trick’s lead vocalist Robin Zander. Additional guests included U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings, Orange County Sherriff Jerry Demings, professional basketball player for the Orlando Magic Aaron Gordon, and more.
Competition and training are at the core of Special Olympics. It’s through sports that our athletes realize their potential and become champions. At Special Olympics Florida, we now serve 30,000 athletes statewide, a record only possible thanks to the families, volunteers and donors whose shared belief in revealing champions makes our movement possible. As we celebrate 2015, I want to personally thank everyone who has dedicated their talents to helping our grassroots movement grow. Read More
It has been another transformational quarter for our organization. We started the summer by cheering for 16 of our athletes competing at the global level representing the USA at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. The world watched as our athletes achieved their personal best and shared moments of celebration throughout the competition. The ESPN broadcast was seen by over 20.16 million people in the US and by another 1.8 million online, as ESPN’s website also helped to amplify the games through digital and social media.
Our summer sports, including Stand-Up Paddle, Surfing, Golf and Aquatics, were filled with many more new opportunities and new faces. Athlete participation was up 9% overall in these sports, growth supported by our incredible 2,270 coaches statewide. We hosted State Stand-Up Paddle competition in a new watersports venue on Florida’s West Coast, Nathan Benderson Park, and celebrated our tenth year of aquatics competition at the North County Aquatics Center in South Florida. Once again our friends at Ron Jon, Disney and the Indian River Recreational department did a fabulous job providing engaging volunteers and sharing their industry knowledge to enhance our summer competitions. A special thank you to all the county directors, coaches, program team and head of delegations for your leadership – we couldn’t do it without you! Read More
The Flame of Hope is a powerful symbol. For Special Olympics, the iconic flame delivers inspiration, as well as a message of awareness for social change, as it’s carried by athletes and members of the law enforcement community across the globe. Read More
It might not be covered in ice, but the Polar Plunge at Sea World’s Aquatica is definitely Central Florida’s coolest event. Polar Plunge is an event where anyone can fundraise for Special Olympics Florida and earn the privilege of plunging into the chilled down wave pool at Aquatica (as well as some other pretty cool incentives).