Title: Special Olympics 2014 View from the second floor of a wide open facility for Special Olympic activities. Right-inset: Speaker at the healthy Athletes ribbon cutting ceremony.


Title: Special Olympics 2014 View from the second floor of a wide open facility for Special Olympic activities. Right-inset: Speaker at the healthy Athletes ribbon cutting ceremony.

Steve Pelletier from Prudential at the SO Healthy Athletes ribbon cutting ceremony.

The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games recently attracted 3,500 athletes from throughout the country to a week-long celebration of the human spirit in locations throughout New Jersey. The events’ participants helped shatter perceptions about what people with intellectual disabilities can do.

After four years of training, planning and preparing, the athletes competed to win gold, silver, and bronze medals in 16 different sports competitions: aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, cycling, flag football, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, softball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, along with the two new demonstration sports, baseball and a triathlon.

The athletes couldn’t have performed at such a high level, if they hadn’t had the support of 1,000 coaches, 10,000 volunteers, and an estimated 70,000 spectators. This was also the most inclusive Special Olympics to date because the competition included individuals with intellectual disabilities and those without who played on the same team together in 10 of the sports. Those events were basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, triathlon and volleyball.

SO Games founding partner 21st Century FOX provided on-air and online media exposure across its cable and broadcast networks, as well as on its local stations. FOX, for the first time ever in games’ history, also aired a one-hour recap chronicling the week-long celebration on its Sports 1 station. The show, Celebrating Champions: 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, captured the passion, dedication and determination of America’s most inspiring athletes.

In addition to training, competition, education, and community building, 2014 athletes also had access to Special Olympics’ Healthy Athletes program. It provided free health examinations and additional access to health care. People with intellectual disabilities are one of the most medically underserved populations in the United States, and even those who may have access to healthcare may not have seen doctors trained to suit their needs. Through Healthy Athletes, doctors, dentists, and other health professionals also get additional education and training needed to care for the ID population.

Actor McGinley smiles watching young athlete speak at the podium. Bottom-left: Athletes and youth gather round the table creating artwork. Bottom-right: An athlete and friend sit at a table looking at the song they are writing on paper.

Top: Actor John C. McGinley & athlete, Marissa Faralli, taking turns at the podium. Left: SO USA Games Youth Summit teamwork session. Right: Tim Fraizer & Kate Goorland writing a song reflecting their experiences.

During games week, more than 100 high school students with and without intellectual disabilities met at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games Youth Summit. There were leaders from within both Project UNIFY and Special Olympics’ education and sports based programs, which are powered by an engaged youth community. This alliance increases athletic and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities, and also creates communities of acceptance for all. ...To read the full article, login or become a member --- it's free! specialolympics.org


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