Special Olympics Florida Athletes Headed to World Games in Berlin

Will Join 7,000 Athletes at the 2023 Special Olympics World Games later this month

CLERMONT, Fla., June 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --  Fifteen Special Olympics Florida athletes and Unified partners are headed to Germany this month to compete in the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin. The Florida athletes will join other members of Special Olympics USA as they take on the world’s best.

The Games will be held June 17-25 and will feature about 7,000 athletes and Unified partners from approximately 170 countries. They will be supported by more than 3,000 coaches and 20,000 volunteers. (Unified partners are athletes without intellectual disabilities who train with and play alongside Special Olympics athletes.)

Special Olympics Florida athletes will join representatives from across the country as delegates of Special Olympics USA, which is comprised of 133 athletes and Unified partners, 38 coaches and 23 delegation members who support team operations.

Special Olympics Florida athletes and Unified partners going to the World Games include cyclists, tennis players, basketball players, and an open-water swimmer. The full list of Special Olympics Florida athletes is included below.

“We are incredibly proud of the Special Olympics Florida athletes who will join Special Olympics USA at the World Games in Berlin,” said Special Olympics Florida President & CEO Sherry Wheelock. “They are tremendous ambassadors of our mission and will show the world that people with intellectual disabilities can accomplish remarkable things, if they are just given the opportunity.”

The Special Olympics World Games are the world’s largest inclusive sporting event, bringing together thousands of athletes with mental and multiple disabilities. Athletes from approximately 170 countries will participate in 26 different sports.

The World Games will be broadcast by ESPN. Special Olympics Florida athletes heading to Berlin include:

  • Maxwell Verduin (Orange County) -- cycling
  • Mollie O’Connell (Sarasota County) -- cycling
  • Brandon Mailly (Osceola County) -- tennis
  • Gerard Mailly, Unified partner (Osceola County) -- tennis
  • Gina Grant (Broward County) -- open water swim

The Alachua All Stars, a University of Florida Unified basketball team will also compete. The Alachua All Stars lineup includes:

  • Kiondre Brown (athlete, Alachua County)
  • Robert McCann (athlete, Alachua County)
  • Mathias Misener (athlete, Alachua County)
  • Ivory Richardson (athlete, Alachua County)
  • Joseph Rosenstock (athlete, Alachua County)
  • Catherine Crowley (Unified partner, Denver, CO)
  • Lance Duch (Unified partner, Manatee County)
  • William Munro (Unified partner, Denver, CO)
  • Lysander Reyes Santana (Unified partner, Bay County)
  • Savana Brashears (Unified partner, Palm Beach County)

Several Florida coaches will join the athletes, including:

  • Phyllis Crain (Hillsborough County)
  • Evan Combs (Alachua County)
  • Savannah Townsend (Marion County)
  • Samantha Meador (Miami-Dade County)

To learn more about the Special Olympics USA delegation and Special Olympics Florida representatives, please visit www.specialolympicsusa.org for a full delegation listing. The public is invited to cheer for Special Olympics USA by adding their name and message of encouragement to a digital message board at https://www.specialolympicsusa.org/or by posting a photo or video on social media using the hashtag #Cheer4USA.

For more information, contact Chloe Blair at Uproar Public Relations, at cblair@uproarpr.com.

About Special Olympics Florida: Special Olympics Florida provides year-round sports training and competition, crucial health services, and life-changing leadership programs to people with intellectual disabilities, at no cost to the athletes or their caregivers. The organization serves 60,000 athletes statewide and seeks to build communities where people with intellectual disabilities are treated with respect and given the opportunities they deserve. To learn more, visit www.specialolympicsflorida.org.