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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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