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Special Olympics Announces New Global and Inaugural Champion Ambassador Programs

Chris Nikic—the first person with Down syndrome to complete a full IRONMAN®—leads star pack
Chris Nikic smiling with his arms crossed and in his Special Olympics Florida tank-top.

WASHINGTON, DC – December 3, 2020: On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Special Olympics announced a new Global Ambassador program and inaugural Champion Ambassador program to build support for a more inclusive world for people with intellectual disabilities.

Icons in sports, entertainment, arts and culture, and media are joining forces with Special Olympics athletes to share their spotlights with people with intellectual disabilities. Global Ambassadors advocate for the mission of Special Olympics worldwide, while Champion Ambassadors engage primarily in a specific country. All Ambassadors amplify the message of inclusion to smash barriers, unite people, and ultimately put people of all abilities on a level playing field.

“Special Olympics Global and Champion Ambassadors supercharge our mission to make inclusion a reality for all people with intellectual disabilities. When our Global and Champion Ambassadors use their voices in support of Special Olympics, they reach people who may be unaware that discrimination and exclusion of people with intellectual disabilities is real and there’s something you can do about it in a way that is rewarding for all.”
Mary Davis, Special Olympics Chief Executive Officer

All Global and Champion Ambassadors volunteer their time to create public awareness of Special Olympics programming in sports, health, education, leadership, and youth programs through on-the-ground and virtual activations worldwide or locally. Ambassadors collaborate closely with Special Olympics staff relationship managers to authentically engage in focus areas that most interest them. They join the 6.5 million athletes with intellectual disabilities and Unified partners to demonstrate the power of sports to create a world inclusive of people of all abilities.

“Since being named a Special Olympics Global Ambassador in 2018, our athletes continue to amaze and inspire me. They embody the enthusiasm, grit and sportsmanship my fellow WWE Superstars and Special Olympics Ambassadors strive to attain. It’s an honor to be an advocate of Special Olympics athletes and continue to support their mission on a global scale.”
Big Show, WWE Superstar

As Global Ambassador, Big Show is joined by MLB All-Stars Gleyber Torres and Willson Contreras, Olympic legend Michael Phelps, Olympic champion figure skater Michelle Kwan, professional basketball stars Andre Drummond, Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Ricky Rubio, Elena Delle Donne, Sam Perkins, and Dikembe Mutombo, professional footballers Didier Drogba and Cafu, professional golfer Padraig Harrington, renowned actors Maureen McCormick and John C. McGinley, singer Vanessa Williams, recording artist and television personality Nicole Scherzinger, and more.

Chris Nikic, a 21-year-old Special Olympics Florida athlete and the first person with Down syndrome to complete a full IRONMAN, leads the star-studded team of Champion Ambassadors. On November 7, 2020, Nikic shattered stereotypes by conquering the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run in 16 hours, 46 minutes, and nine seconds. Considered one of the world’s most difficult sporting events, the achievement landed Nikic in the Guinness Book of World Records.

“I am honored to serve as a Special Olympics Champion Ambassador. My teammates and coaches at Special Olympics helped me get started with my training for IRONMAN and prove to the world that people with intellectual disabilities are capable of anything! Special Olympics is my team, and these Ambassadors make our team even stronger, faster, and louder.”
Chris Nikic, Special Olympics Champion Ambassador

Nikic is joined by Champion Ambassadors including actress Lily D Moore, professional renowned photographer Nigel Barker, Jamaican Olympic swimmer Alia Atkinson, singer-songwriter Montell Jordan, and professional football players Eddie Yarbrough, Dalton Risner, and Mack Hollins.

“It’s a privilege to witness this program as it reaches the next level as it ushers in a new era of Ambassadors to amplify our mission. Each of our Global and Champion Ambassadors has an authentic connection to the mission of Special Olympics. Our Ambassadors exemplify the benefits of inclusion and add the necessary urgency to our message.”
Kelli Seely, Special Olympics Chief Marketing, Communications, and Development Officer

Celebrated every December 3, International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebrates and raises awareness of people of all abilities. The theme for 2020 is “Building Back Better”, and even as the pandemic has forced the global Special Olympics movement to make several pivots, Ambassadors have shown unwavering support for motivating athletes, lifting spirits, and maintaining momentum for inclusion. They star in the fitness behavior change campaign School of Strength, host surprise video calls with athletes with the Special Olympics Call To Action initiative, and join internal global meetings to share inspiration.

About Special Olympics

Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health, and leadership. With more than six million athletes and Unified Sports partners in over 190 countries and territories and more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedInand our blog on Medium. Learn more at

Media Contact

Jason Teitler

Special Olympics
+1 347 739-9483