Meet the doctor in charge of caring for the athletes at the Special Olympics USA games in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. — The excitement is building for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games being hosted in Orlando this summer.

Unfortunately, participating in sports also brings with it the risk of injuries.

READ: Hundreds of Special Olympics athletes gearing up for summer games in Central Florida

Two Central Florida health leaders have been tasked with overseeing everyone’s well being during the games.

Osceola County orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Jablonski has been chosen to be the Chief MEdical Officer for the games. It’s his first time in the role.

“When my kids were in high school, we would work with Special Olympics Florida, so I’ve been involved that way,” Dr. Jablonski said. “But USA Special Olympics…this is my first time as Chief Medical Officer and being involved at this level.”

Thousands of athletes will be in Orlando competing for the gold when the games start in June.

Seven sports venues will be used for the games, which is a lot of ground to cover when it comes to monitoring the athletes’ health.

There will be 24-hour medical coverage as well as hundreds of volunteers to help, but Dr. Jablonski says they could still use more.

READ: Special Olympics Florida kicks off 50th anniversary celebration with Orlando native Lee Corso

“We need tens of thousands of volunteers,” Dr. Jablonski said. “There’s medical volunteers and there’s non-medical volunteers.”

Athletes from all 50 states and the Caribbean will be in Orlando for the event.

The Special Olympics games has created a program for healthy screenings and education for Special Olympics athletes. Since its inception, “Special Olympics Healthy Athletes” has delivered more than two million free health screenings and has trained close to 300,000 health professionals to treat people with intellectual disabilities.

James Holder is a Special Olympics Health Messenger from Brevard County. He says he loves the impact it’s had on his life.

“I feel more important. I feel more involved with Special Olympics Florida, and I can be involved with Special Olympics athletes and everyone else there,” Holder said.

READ: Sports program for kids with developmental disabilities launching in Central Florida

Holder says the best part of the program is that he gets free check-ups for his eyes, ears, teeth, and bone density, just to name a few. He wants to encourage others to get checked as well.

For more information on how to volunteer, click here.

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