Special Olympics Florida Summer Games Opening Ceremony

Special Olympics Florida ESPN Wide World of Sports

The Special Olympics Florida 2014 State Summer Games were held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports this weekend, and over two days more than 3,100 athletes, coaches, and family members came to the Special Olympics Florida State Summer Games, and the energy that ran through the Wide World of Sports Complex was electric with positivity.

Special Olympics Florida

At a private reception before the Opening Ceremonies, we were treated to a look at some of the new sports, initiatives, and partnerships coming to Special Olympics Florida this year as well as hearing from Athlete Ambassadors.

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Starting this year there are some great new sports coming to Special Olympics Florida! Surfing Invitationals with Ron Jon in 17 counties, Unified Flag Football, Cheerleading, and 3 Stand-Up Paddling Invitationals are going to be held this year.

Special Olympics Florida

We also heard more about the expanded programs of Project Unity to create more unified sports, the Healthy Athlete Program which utilized volunteer Doctors and Medical Professionals, the Special Olympic Florida Youth Programs, and the expanded Athlete Leadership Program. It is great to learn about all the awesome things that Special Olympics does for the counties of Florida!

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The WWE is a Founding Partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games to be held in New Jersey from June 14-21, 2014, and we got to hear a little more about their support locally and spoke about the Unified Training Day that they held at the WWE Performance Center in town.

Special Olympics Florida WWE NXT Superstars and Divas

But, before the Opening Ceremonies began we were able to walk with the WWE & NXT Superstars and Divas that were in attendance and the 128 members of Team Florida who will be traveling to the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games as they staged to walk into Champions Stadium.

Special Olympics Florida

It was awesome to see everyone talking, taking pictures, and reflecting on what was about to happen.

Then it was time for us to make our way to Champions Stadium to get ready for the Opening Ceremonies to begin.

Special Olympics Florida

Walking into Champions Stadium from right outfield entrance was one of the most amazing feelings I have ever had. The stadium was full of athletes, coaches, volunteers, and their families all singing and dancing and getting excited about an awesome night.

Special Olympics Florida

The Opening Ceremonies started with the individual counties being welcomed, and then there was a presentation of colors and the raising of the Special Olympics Florida Flag.Special Olympics Florida

Special Olympics Florida

Attorney General Pam Bondi then took to the stage to talk about her personal involvement with Special Olympics Florida, and then Publix donated $2.2 million dollars to Special Olympics Florida.

Special Olympics Florida

The highlight of the evening was the culmination of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, where over 300 law enforcement officers guided the torch into the stadium and then passed it off to Special Olympics Florida athletes to light the Flame of Hope to officially start the evening.

Special Olympics Florida

Special Olympics Florida

Special Olympics Florida

As the fireworks went in the air and the lights from the law enforcement vehicles were going off, I couldn’t help but shed a tear to celebrate these athletes, their coaches, their families, and most importantly their success.

Special Olympics Florida

Special Olympics Florida

It was an absolutely beautiful evening, that definitely ignited a spirit within me to do more!

We will be bringing you more Special Olympics Florida events and ways to get involved, and I hope that you will join in with us!

Special Olympics Florida

 

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Caribbean Beach Resort Tips With Kelly Christine

Caribbean BeachA long, long time ago, in a resort category away, I used to stay at non Disney Vacation Club resorts. Alright, I still stay at non DVC resorts, just not as frequently. Before 2008, when I signed my DVC contract, I preferred one and only one resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Even after six years of owning DVC, members of my family prefer Caribbean Beach to the DVC resorts. I completely believe it’s underrated as far as moderate resorts go. For me it’s the perfect location and the best resort for someone bringing new people to experience the magic of Walt Disney World.

Caribbean Beach is one of the older resorts, which opened in 1988. It’s also a massively large resort with over 2,000 rooms, though to me it feels around the same size as Old Key West with a similar ambiance. Despite how large this resort is, I feel as though it’s easy to walk around this resort, though internal buses are available to get around if you prefer to save your feet for the parks. I recommend taking a walk around this resort sometime and checking out what it has to offer.

Here are three tips for you to enjoy the resort a bit more:

Tip 1:384570_10150560277535837_1756910559_n

When staying here, I recommend Trinidad South. I know if you look on the resort map it seems really far from everything but it isn’t that bad. It’s a 10 minute walk to Old Port Royale, it’s usually the last stop before the bus heads to the parks (not always, but pretty regularly), and you have a fantastic quiet pool nearby. My favorite thing to do while staying at Trinidad South is to have a late swim to wind down my day while listening to Illuminations and/or Fantasmic.

Tip 2:

While on vacation I like to get up early and walk around the resort. I recommend bringing your camera and getting shots of the sunrising around the resort. It’s stunning! If you’re lucky, you may also see some hot air balloons traveling around the area.

Tip 3:

Have dinner at Shutters! It’s not a very busy restaurant but has some nice entrees that my unadventurous family has enjoyed. I recommend the short ribs as they are quite delicious and have a nice Caribbean flair.

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Have you stayed at Caribbean Beach? What do you enjoy about it? Do you recommend another area for optimal resort enjoyment?

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Orlando City SC Extend Their Unbeaten Streak

Orlando City SC
Photo: Orlando City SC

Orlando City SC Kevin Molino

Scores Hat-Trick in Lions’ Win over Eagles

Orlando City defeats Charlotte Eagles 3-1 to Extend Unbeaten Streak

 

Propelled by a hat-trick from Kevin Molino, Orlando City SC (8-0-3, 27 points) defeated the Charlotte Eagles 3-1 on Wednesday night at ESPN Wide World of Sports. The hat-trick moves Molino into first place on the USL PRO scoring charts, as Orlando City extends its unbeaten streak to start the season.

“Some of our attacking play was outstanding tonight,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath after the 3-1 win. “But I’m a little bit concerned because I thought that we gave a few too many chances to the opposition.”

Tonight’s match marked the first meeting between both sides since the thrilling 2013 USL PRO Championship match last September that saw the Lions defeat the Eagles 7-4 in front of a record crowd.

Charlotte came close to pulling off an upset in the 2013 final and looked to do the same in Wednesday’s match, as Orlando City, who currently sits in first place in USL PRO, has yet to lose a game this season.

However, Orlando looked dangerous in the early stages of the first half, particularly from set-pieces, and seemed destined to secure a quick goal. In the 11th minute, on City’s third consecutive corner kick, the ball bounced around the box before being cleared out to Defender Bryan Burke, who fired a powerful effort that forced Eagles ‘keeper Brock Duckworth to parry the ball in Kevin Molino’s path.

The Trinidadian international, who leads the teams in goals and points, made no mistake finishing from 10 yards away for his sixth goal of the season, putting him in first place for goals scored in USL PRO.

Molino has been playing arguably his best football since arriving to Orlando and would add a second for Orlando in the 31st minute. The club’s first MLS signing pounced on a poor clearance from the Eagles inside the box and smacked home his seventh goal of the 2014 campaign.

“Kevin has always been an incredible footballer since he’s come to Orlando,” added Heath “But we’ve been pushing for him to take that next step and he’s managed to do that this year.”

Aside from a few half-chances, Charlotte struggled to gain any momentum in the first half as the Lions seemed to be clicking on all cylinders. The Eagles’ best opportunity to find the back of the net came in the 18th minute when Midfielder Drew Yates created space for himself and fired a cracking shot from close range.

Unfortunately for Charlotte, the midfielder’s effort went directly to Gallardo, who was able to push it wide.

The second half was similar to the first 45 as the Orlando attacking players proved to cause ample issues for the Eagles’ backline.

City’s attacking midfielders and full-backs were continuously finding space in behind, and as a result, created multiple opportunities that put Duckworth and the Charlotte defense under pressure.

In the 61st minute, Adama Mbengue came close to providing Corey Hertzog with his first league goal for City. The Senegalese, who was a constant threat all night long, combined nicely with

Alvarez for a one-two before playing a probing ball across the six for Hertzog who placed his effort just wide of the target.

“I thought that Adama was fantastic tonight,” Heath continued. “If Kevin hadn’t scored three goals, he would’ve had my vote for Man of the Match.”

Nevertheless, Molino was able to maintain his excellent form throughout the match and scored his first-ever hat-trick for Orlando City just 15 minutes later. After a poor giveaway from

Charlotte in its defensive third, Mikey Lopez kick-started a counter, which saw City have the advantage in numbers, and played a precise ball to Molino on the back post.

Molino caught Lopez’s cross cleanly on the half-volley, placing home his first-ever professional hat-trick.

Charlotte secured a conciliation goal in the 80th minute when substitute Guiseppe Gentile was able to capitalize on a mistake made by Tommy Redding. The 17 year-old center-half played flawless up until that point but showed signs of being a youngster on that particular play.

With the win secured, Orlando City extends its unbeaten streak in league play to 11 consecutive games. The Lions’ record for most games in a row without a loss occurred in 2012 when the team went 14 games straight without losing.

City’s next match will take place on Friday, May 23, against AS Roma of the Italian Serie A at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Lions will then take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup on May 28 before returning back to league play for a match against the Charleston Battery at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

For more information, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com

Orlando City SC Match Recap

Team                              1    2    Final

Orlando City SC              2    1    3

Charlotte Eagles             0    1    1

Scoring Summary:

ORL- Kevin Molino (unassisted) 11’

ORL- Kevin Molino (unassisted) 31’

ORL- Kevin Molino (unassisted) 77’

CHA- Guiseppe Gentile (unassisted) 80’

Lineups/Substitutions:

Orlando City SC- GK Miguel Gallardo, D Luke Boden, Tommy Redding, Brad Rusin (Tyler Turner 78’), Bryan Burke, M Darwin Ceren, Yordany Alvarez, Adama Mbengue (Mikey Lopez 76’), Brian Span (Anthony Pulis 62’), Kevin Molino, F Dennis Chin (Corey Hertzog 41’)

Charlotte Eagles- GK Brock Duckworth, D Matt Gold, Bilal Duckett, Ben Newnam, JJ Greer (Richard Dixon 69’), M Fred Sekyere, Drew Yates, Juan Guzman, F Zak Boggs, Jorge Herrera (Tyrone Hall 69’), Wells Thompson

Penalty Summary:

CHA- Bilal Duckeet (Yellow Card) 56’

Match Facts:

Time of Match: 7:30 p.m. EST

Weather: — Clear

Orlando City SC Crest

About Orlando City Soccer Club:

Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) is Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team. The club will begin play in MLS in 2015, becoming the league’s 21st club. The Lions’ first team has won two USL PRO regular season titles and two postseason championships and will continue play in USL PRO in 2014 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Outside of the first squad, OCSC also has a youth club, Orlando City Youth Soccer (OCYS) and a U-23 team that participates in the PDL. For more information on the pro and youth clubs, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com and www.OrlandoCityYouth.org.

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