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Special Olympics Kicks Off Call to Engage Youth Around the World to Play Unified to Live Unified – Game ON!

Last night, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a dinner around ‘A Celebration of Special Olympics and A Unified Generation’ at the White House. The event celebrated the work that Special Olympics, with the support of the Obama administration and others, has been doing to activate young people to fight inactivity, intolerance and injustice in their schools and communities.
With President Obama in the front row, representatives from Special Olympics talked about the power of the movement. From left, Chairman Tim Shriver, Special Olympics athlete Ricardo Thornton, athlete Loretta Claiborne, athlete Danielle Liebl, Unified Partner Kenny Brown, athlete Sean Bogart, athlete Matthew Williams and athlete Brina Kei Maxino.

A Song for the Unified Generation

Katy Perry kicked off her performance with her hit ‘Roar,’ dedicating the song to the entire ‘unified generation

“The fact that so many accomplished, wonderful people are here is a testament to the impact that the Special Olympics has had on our nation, and has had on our world,” said President Obama in his remarks at the White House. “This organization has touched so many lives, and tonight Michelle and I are thrilled that we get a chance to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has been a part of it.”

Some of the world’s leading social activists, business leaders, entertainers, members of Congress and sports legends were in attendance including Dikembe Mutumbo, Senator Tom Harkin, Stevie Wonder, Hannah Teter, Glenn Lyons, Antonio Urcelay, Nicole Scherzinger, Arne Sorenson, Anne Finucane and Kevin Farr.

Teaming up with Special Olympics for the first time, Katy Perry, one of the world’s most popular performers of all time, and called by Brina Kei Maximo the voice of our ‘unified generation’, kicked off the night by performing ‘Roar’ dedicating the song to the entire ‘unified generation, and also sang ‘Firework’ and ‘This Moment’.

The entertainment portion of the evening which included the speaking program by the unified generation and concert by Katy Perry was produced by Blayne Candy of Showcall Productions.

Special Olympics is grateful to the many supporters who have been champions behind our vision of a future of respect and acceptance, especially founding partner The Coca-Cola Company and also the Walt Disney Company and global presenting sponsor of unified sports, ESPN.

New Youth Activation Campaign

Special Olympics plans to engage youth across the world in a new youth activation campaign to be launched in a few months to create the first truly unified generation – a generation in which young people with and without intellectual disabilities create a future of respect and inclusion for everyone. The goal of the campaign will be to mobilize youth to play and ultimately live unified, breaking down the barriers that exclude people with intellectual disabilities.

"Creating the sports of a Unified Generation"

The dinner featured inspiring moments with current leaders of the unified generation, including unified pairs Brina Kei Maximo and Sashi Montana from the Philippines, Kenneth Brown, youth advocate and leader from Philadelphia, Sean Bogart, Special Olympics athlete from Connecticut, Matthew Williams, Special Olympics International Global Messenger and Special Olympics International Board Member from Canada, Danielle Liebl, youth advocate and Special Olympics athlete from Minnesota, Special Olympics International Board Member and athlete Loretta Claiborne and Special Olympics Global Messenger Ricardo Thornton. 

“My twin brother has autism, and we play Unified Soccer together. Though we were born strong together, we grew apart as we got older. Sports reconnected a bond we lost over the years. We are creating the sports of a Unified Generation” said Kenneth Brown.

New PlayUnified.org Website

Special Olympics has a new website focused on Unified Sports, an initiative that is growing with support from ESPN, Coca-Cola, Perfect Sense Digital, Y&R and Burson-Marsteller. Visit www.playunified.org

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 4.4 million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than 1.3 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 81,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics®, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Lions Clubs International, Mattel, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, The Safeway Foundation, and Safilo Group. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: twitter@specialolympics, fb.com/specialolympics, youtube.com/specialolympicshq, instagram.com/specialolympics and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.


Christy White

Special Olympics

+1 (202) 824-0307