News from Standup Paddle Athletes from Special Olympics Florida

June 19, 2018 (Key West, Florida)Special Olympics Florida is preparing to send five athletes and one coach to the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games where they will be joining athletes from Washington (5), Arkansas (2), South Carolina (5), Texas (4) and Alabama (4) to compete in Stand Up Paddle in Seattle, Washington on July 2 and 3, 2018.  This will be the first time that the sport of stand up paddle is included in the national competition that occurs every four years.  The Stand Up Paddle team from Florida consists of Jennifer Averette (Monroe County), Daniel Fundora (Miami-Dade County), Curtis Fisher (Volusia County), Vivy Pantoja, (Collier County), Lane “Hutch” Weeks (Walton County) and Head Coach Ruth Holland (Monroe County).

Races will range from 800 to 3,500 yards in distance, with four levels of competition. This exciting “first” has been supported over the past 5 years by the Stand Up Paddle community, businesses and enthusiasts around the country, who donated expertise, equipment, raised funds and provided encouragement to Special Olympics athletes, coaches, and organizers.

In less than 19 days, more than 4,000 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will gather in Seattle to compete before tens of thousands of spectators and volunteers, showcasing the limitless talents of people with intellectual disabilities while promoting the barrier-breaking power of sport to promote inclusion and acceptance.

The Special Olympics USA Games will offer 14 Olympic-type sports: athletics (track and field), basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, soccer, softball, stand up paddle, swimming, tennis and volleyball. 

ESPN, the official media partner of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, will begin July 1 with live coverage of the Opening Ceremony at 3:30 p.m. ET. Coverage will include the live telecast of the Opening Ceremony and evening studio programs from Seattle throughout the week-long event, airing primarily on ESPN2 with the Opening Ceremony and highlights from the Closing Ceremony appearing on ABC. All programs will be available to stream live on the ESPN App as well.

About Special Olympics Florida

Founded in 1972, Special Olympics Florida provides year-round sports training, competition, and health services to children and adults with intellectual disabilities, at no cost to the athletes or their caregivers, as a means to achieve physical fitness, self-esteem, socialization skills, and the life skills necessary to be productive, respected, and contributing members of their communities.  The organization welcomes competitors at all ability levels.  To learn more about becoming an athlete, coach or volunteer, visit www.specialolympicsflorida.org.

About 2018 Special Olympics USA Games

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be held in Seattle, Washington July 1-6, 2018. More than 4,000 participants representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with the support of tens of thousands of volunteers and spectators, will compete in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports. The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will celebrate the Special Olympics movement and its 50th anniversary; promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport; and showcase athletes from throughout the U.S. and the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. The 2018 USA Games will also highlight Special Olympics’ work in sport, education, health and community-building. 

For more information on the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, please visit SpecialOlympicsUSAGames.org and follow on Facebook (@SpecialOlympicsUSAGames), Twitter (@2018USAGames) and Instagram (@SpecialOlympicsUSAGames).

Photo Credits: Special Olympics Florida Miami-Dade, Special Olympics Walton County, Specical Olympics Collier County. Dana Athridge

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