Washington D.C., – 18 July 2019: The White House welcomed 20 members of the Special Olympics USA delegation, congratulating and recognizing them for their accomplishments at the recently held Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. The group was part of the 315-member team that represented the United States, competing in 18 of the 24 sports offered, including athletics, swimming, and basketball among many others. Special Olympics USA athletes brought home 72 gold, 62 silver and 70 bronze medals, and 97 participation ribbons. The event marked the first time a Special Olympics team was invited to the White House after representing their country at a Special Olympics World Games event.
President Donald Trump hosted the visit in the Oval Office, congratulating each attendee for their achievements while they represented the United States at the World Games in Abu Dhabi. Delina Rodrigues, Special Olympics USA powerlifting athlete from Pennsylvania, presented the President with a signed jersey on behalf of the entire delegation. President Trump was joined by his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Michael Pence and his wife, Second Lady Karen Pence as well as His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States.
After talking with each athlete, President Trump commented, “This is special for me and special for the First Lady because this is Special Olympics. And we have a lot of the great champions here. They won, and they came in a couple of seconds and a couple of thirds, but a lot of first places. And we (the USA) did fantastically well. What you've done is incredible. Bringing home all those medals!”
“It was a tremendous honor to be recognized by President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, as well as Vice President Michael Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence. To be inside the White House and the Oval Office with my fellow Special Olympics USA team members was a phenomenal experience and one I won’t soon forget.”
“These athletes brought grit, hard work and passion to their sport, excelling on a global stage, and demonstrating to the world the power of inclusion and how it changes attitudes,” said Mary Davis, Special Olympics Chief Executive Officer. “What an incredible honor for our athletes to be recognized by the White House, not only for their athletic achievements, but also for demonstrating continued courage, determination, teamwork and inclusion. Their dedication and efforts resulted in a nation and a world inspired; a legacy that will be felt for lifetimes to come.”
For the very first time in Special Olympics’ 50-year history, the Special Olympics World Games were held in the Middle East. The Games were held from March 14 to 21 in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and showcased over 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing over 192 nations. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 was one of the largest, most inclusive, most unified, most diverse and most successful World Games in the history of Special Olympics, bringing unprecedented awareness to the mission of Special Olympics and the power of inclusion through sport.
Every two years, the world transcends the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion to come together for the Special Olympics World Games. Alternating between summer and winter Games, this event is the flagship event of the Special Olympics movement, which promotes inclusion, equality, and acceptance around the world. Sweden will host the 2021 Special Olympics World Winter Games from February 6-12.
Special Olympics USA is the national team that represents the United States at Special Olympics World Summer and Winter Games. Team members compete in an array of the 32 official Special Olympics summer and winter sports, in individual and team formats.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 6 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in over 190 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including Bank of America, the Christmas Records Trust, The Coca-Cola Company, ESPN, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, IKEA Foundation, the Lane Family, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Lions Clubs International, Safilo Group, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, TOYOTA, United Airlines, and The Walt Disney Company. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium. Learn more at www.SpecialOlympics.org.