USA Games Spotlight: Dustin Plunkett

SEATTLE, Wash. — Dustin Plunkett has a variety of titles, roles and experiences that would make for great conversation starters.

Special Olympics Southern California manager of development and athlete leadership. Inspirational speaker. On-air ESPN analyst. He’s even had dinner with former President Barack Obama at the White House.

That’s just scratching the surface, and it’s all possible because of his start — and continuation — as a Special Olympics Southern California athlete. Dustin is a testament to the limitless potential of individuals with intellectual disabilities when given a fair opportunity and treated with respect.

“Special Olympics is not just a life-changing organization, it’s a life-saving one,” the 37-year-old said. “We offer more than sports. We offer Healthy Athletes. We offer athlete leadership training, where you can train to be a leader both on and off the playing field and in work. There’s so many other programs that really can make an impact in their lives.”

Dustin and the Lakewood Dirtbags softball team are among the 66 SOSC athletes competing at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, which will be broadcast on ESPN’s host of networks.

Today’s Opening Ceremony at University of Washington’s Husky Stadium will signal the start of the Games, which will take over Seattle and its surrounding cities through Friday. ABC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony will begin at 12:30 p.m.

ESPN and Special Olympics have a relationship that spans three decades, and the last four, in particular, has seen a growth in TV coverage. Dustin has helped play a key role, providing the similar type of insight you would find from a former coach or player on an NBA telecast.

While he isn’t scheduled to have any on-air duties this week, Dustin’s experience includes prominent roles in the coverage at the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles and 2017 World Games in Austria.

When the USA Games conclude, Dustin will return right back to Long Beach and his role as a Special Olympics Southern California staff member.

The next line of shining examples are out there, waiting to be given the tools to succeed through Special Olympics Southern California programs, and they’ll have a pretty good mentor to lean on along the way.

Learn more about Dustin Plunkett:

Stay tuned to for daily updates from the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, including photos, stories, and more.

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