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Taking “Play Unified” to the Next Level

Group of four with their arms on one another shoulders; one is holding a basketball.

Special Olympics is all about bringing out the best in everyone. Special Olympics Unified Sports, which brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities, takes this transformation to another level. Now, meet a Unified Basketball team from Florida, USA that’s taking the power of “playing unified” to the global level at the 2023 World Games in Berlin.  

This team is led by Coach Evan Combs, who says his passion for sports was sparked by his father, a high school basketball coach. Bringing this team to the World Games is truly a dream come true for Evan.  

But it’s also about inclusion—and empowering every player! Just ask teammates like  

Ivory Richardson, who’s a dedicated Special Olympics athlete—and so much more. She’s employed by Country Inn & Suites’ housekeeping department. She also runs her own nonprofit, Ivory’s Place, which provides free school supplies and other necessities to children.  

And Kiondre "Keke" Brown, who’s been active in Special Olympics for nine years and has trained in athletics, basketball, bowling, flag football and soccer. Keke works at Subway as a sandwich artist and at Reggae Shack Café.  

And “JJ” Rosenstock, who has competed in Special Olympics for 12 years in basketball,, bowling, equestrian, flag football, softball and tennis. He’s employed as a customer service clerk at Publix.  

Or Lysander Reyes, who’s a Unified teammate AND a student at the University of Florida AND working as a medical assistant. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Ly got a fast start learning English during his first week of elementary school in the US—and has been a quick study ever since! Now he shares his passion for learning and good health and, of course, playing basketball with his Special Olympics coaches and teammates, who he considers family.  

This team has too many great players to list here—but guess we could also mention William Munro, named the 2022 Special Olympics Florida Unified Partner of the Year. William joined the Special Olympics movement as a Unified partner in high school, inspired by his grandfather, who happens to be a 20+ year Special Olympics volunteer, kicking off an inspiring family legacy.  

William is now vice president of the University of Florida’s Special Olympics College Club.  

Together, this team will meet with and compete against other Unified teams at the World Games in Berlin. And take the power of playing unified to an exciting new level!  

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