‘Shine As One’: As the year ends, the countdown to the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando begins

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando was officially named the host city for the 2022 Special Olympics USA games back in 2018.


The week-long event will bring thousands of athletes, their families, fans, coaches, and volunteers to Central Florida in June.

To commemorate the final countdown to the 2022 games, Channel 9 has compiled a list of stories below featuring some of the people who spent 2021 preparing to make the event a success:

Race for Inclusion:

In March, Special Olympics Florida launched a nine-month campaign to promote acceptance and diversity called the “Race for Inclusion.”

The #PledgetoInclude campaign was based on the idea that inclusion is a skill that can be learned.

The actual “Race for Inclusion” 5k run held in October raised more than $93,000 to benefit Special Olympics Florida, nearly $30,000 more than their initial goal of $65,000.

“I got this”

In May, Channel 9 introduced viewers to “Amazing” Amy Bockerstette, a Special Olympics golfer who made history in 2018 as the first person with Down Syndrome to earn an athletic college scholarship.

Two years later, Bockerstette went viral when she was invited to play an infamously tough hole with a pro golfer watching and seized the moment with a brilliant play for par.

Then, this year, she broke another barrier by teeing off at the Junior College National Golf

Championships held in Ormond Beach in May.

Read more here.

“I have faith in me”

In May, we met an aspiring Special Olympics runner from Jacksonville who says he’s competing because of his brother, a U.S. Army Corporal who was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan in 2006.

Daniel Calloway says he hopes to honor his brother Isaiah with every stride he takes.

Today we take the time to honor Cpl. Isaiah Calloway of Jacksonville, Florida. Calloway was assigned to 1-4 Infantry...

Posted by JMRC on Wednesday, October 30, 2019

“Shine as one”

In June, we held our “Day of Giving” event, directly benefiting the Special Olympics USA Games.

Learn more about the event and some of the athletes by watching the 9 Family Connection special, “Shine as One” below:

“One year out.”

The countdown to the games truly began with a special event marking “one year out” from the start of the action.

During the event, OCA’s local Special Olympics soccer team was surprised with the news that they will play in this summer’s games.

Read more here.

“A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

We recently got to meet a couple of Special Olympics athletes from Tallahassee who were married in October and chose to celebrate with a tour of the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.

Ashley Harrell stood by her husband, Cyrus Buker, as he got to live out his dream of wrestling with the superstars of NXT.

Read more about the WWE’s longtime partnership with the Special Olympics here.

Top-Secret Design:

Finally, Channel 9 introduced viewers to a Florida artist with sculptures already in Orlando who was chosen to sculpt the iconic cauldron that will hold the Flame of Hope at the Special Olympics.

Donald Gialanella says the sculpture design is top-secret for now.

See some of Gialanella’s work already on display around Orlando below:

The opening ceremony for the games will be held at Exploria Stadium. They run from June 5-12.

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