Artist with work across Orlando developing ‘top-secret’ cauldron for next year’s Special Olympics

ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s one of the most iconic images in sports: The cauldron that holds the flame of hope at the Special Olympics, burning proudly for the entire world to see.

Artists from all over submitted designs for the cauldron that will serve as a beacon of hope in Orlando next year, but it was Donald Gialanella who was chosen for the project.


If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he already has sculptures in Orlando, including outside Fire Station 9 and outside the Orange County administration building.

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Gialanella said the cauldron will take several months to complete. Right now, the design just lives on paper, and Gialanella isn’t showing it to Channel 9 because the design is top secret.

Gialanella said he can’t even reveal anything about the design because “they’re very strict about that.”

So we’re going to have to wait a few months to see the cauldron, but if it’s anything like his other sculptures, we know it will be unique.

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“(I) hope it evokes a sense of reverence for the athletes and the daily struggles they go through and overcome on a daily basis,” Gialanella said.

Like many of his other sculptures, it will be fabricated from steel and built at his studio in St. Petersburg. The artist was diagnosed with Parkinson’s six years ago and recently had successful brain surgery to reduce his tremors.

“I really understand what it is to take things day by day,” Gialanella said. “(I) try not to have negative anticipation, and just go on with life as normally as possible. You know, you have no choice. You’re trapped in this body, and it served me well. But ... it’s a daily struggle.”

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The cauldron will be part of the opening ceremonies in June, then moved to the ESPN Wide World of Sports for the games before it’s installed in its permanent home somewhere in Orlando.

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Joe Kepner

Joe Kepner, WFTV.com

I unloaded the U-Haul in Orlando in 2008, just in time to cover the Magic's run to the 2009 NBA Finals.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.