As soon as I was welcomed into this great organization, I was introduced to an abundance of opportunities. My story began in Miami where I had the privilege to work and spend my days with students in the Miami Learning Experience, a school that offers education programs for people with developmental disabilities. Students here are able to participate in Special Olympics Florida sports and programs as part of their physical education.
July 20th represents Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day. In 1962, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver began inviting young people with intellectual disabilities to a summer day camp she hosted in her backyard. She called it “Camp Shriver.” The goal was to explore the children’s skills in a variety of sports and physical activities. That first Camp Shriver grew into what is now known as Special Olympics, a global movement that serves more than 4.9 million athletes. Today, Camp Shriver is still an integral part of our program using sports as a vehicle to bring children with and without disabilities together so that they have the opportunity to develop their motor and social skills, create positive peer relationships and make new friends.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These last couple of weeks have brought some of the most amazing experiences of my life. I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Orlando City Soccer Club Special Olympics Unified team, and I was selected, alongside my teammate Cesar Aponte, to represent Orlando City in the MLS Works/Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match. This experience included being flown out to both San Jose and Chicago, fully decked out in Orlando City gear, to compete with partners and athletes representing different delegations from all around the country.
All eyes have been glued to Rio for the past two weeks. Both the U.S. men’s and women’s 4×100-meter swimming medley relay teams won the gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics. The medley relay race perfectly exemplifies the power of uniting athletes’ unique strengths to achieve more than any one person could by him or herself.
As the president and CEO of Special Olympics Florida, I have been able to witness a movement growing here in Florida and throughout the world through Special Olympics Unified Sports. As in the swimming medley, Special Olympics Florida is bringing together athletes of diverse abilities to bring about incredible change. Read More
Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team and playing field. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
Last month, Special Olympics Florida held its second Youth Summit at the University of South Florida. The Youth Summit provides Special Olympics Florida athletes and Unified partners the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills, learn inclusionary tools, and have an overall fun weekend together. Read More