Thousands of Athletes, Coaches and Fans Came Together to Shine as One During the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games

USA Games Makes History with Over 6,500 Medals Awarded

ORLANDO, Fla., June 17, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Last week, the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, presented by Jersey Mike’s Subs, welcomed 5,500 Special Olympics athletes and coaches to Orlando from all 50 states and the Caribbean to celebrate inclusion, diversity and coming together to Shine as One during the week-long event.

The City Beautiful provided a warm welcome to Special Olympics athletes and hosted 20 Olympic-style team and individual sports, including athletics (track & field), basketball, bocce, bowling, cheerleading, equestrian, flag football, golf, gymnastics, open water swimming, powerlifting, soccer, softball, stand up paddleboard, surfing, swimming, tennis, triathlon and volleyball.

“The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games was truly an incredible opportunity for everyone to join together and celebrate remarkable ability and teamwork,” said Joe Dzaluk, president and CEO of the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. “It was inspiring to witness the athletes take part in this once in a lifetime experience, develop new friendships, create long-lasting memories and come together in the spirit of inclusion.”

On Saturday, June 11, the Closing Ceremony brought athletes, coaches and families together one last time in celebration. The ceremony featured inspiring performances by Special Olympics New Jersey athlete Destiny Gerety, who sang “This Little Light,” the same song she sang in the Jersey Mike’s Day of Giving commercial, and singer-songwriter James Ian who lives with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Ian created SPACES, a first-of-its-kind musical collaboration designed to highlight the talents and humanity of people with disabilities to a broader audience, in partnership with Genentech and members of the SMA community.

Highlights of the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games include:

  • Over 6,500 medals and ribbons were awarded in almost 1,000 medal ceremonies.
  • The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games welcomed new sports to the competition for the first-time time ever including cheerleading, equestrian, open water swimming and surfing. 
  • The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games' Healthy Athletes Experience, presented by Orlando Health, provided athletes with the opportunity to receive free health screenings. The screenings covered seven health disciplines: podiatry, vision, dentistry, physical therapy/fitness, nutrition and healthy habits, audiology, and emotional well-being. In total, more than 12,000 free screenings were conducted across seven disciplines, and all athletes who completed screenings in at least five disciplines received a complimentary pair of shoes from Zappos. Over 100 athletes received free hearing aids and almost 1,000 athletes received free prescription glasses.
  • The USA Games had an expected economic impact of more than $69 million, as families and fans came to Central Florida, stayed in local hotels and resorts, visited the attractions, and dined in restaurants.
  • The world’s largest peacetime airlift — organized over two years by Textron Aviation — flew over 800 athletes to Orlando and back home, on 128 private aircraft. The special call sign designated to each aircraft was “Dove” – the universal symbol of peace. Peyton Manning greeted the athletes upon their arrival to Orlando Executive Airport as the planes touched down every two minutes.
  • Tim Tebow learned how to surf at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park in a lesson taught by Layla Crehan, a Team Florida athlete who competed in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.

Held every four years, the 2026 Special Olympics USA Games will take place in Minnesota.

Video and photo highlights from the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games can be found here.

About the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games
The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games took place June 5-12, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. Jersey Mike’s Subs was the Presenting Partner and Walt Disney World Resort the Official Host. During this magical week, more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the Caribbean traveled to Florida to unite in one of the country’s most cherished sporting events. The USA Games is hosted once every four years and showcased 20 Olympic-style team and individual sports.

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