INSIDE SOSC: Growing Family

Special Olympics Southern California family has been growing, and quickly. From the more than 34,500 athletes to the families that take them to every practice and competition, Special Olympics is one big family. It’s size continues to grow as evidence by the past four days during these very hot summer days.

From the Orange County bowling competition to the Nike 3ON3 basketball event to multiple invitations from professional teams, this “family” was busy this weekend.

Here’s a rundown:

OC Bowling

Before every single frame he bowls, Orange County athlete Chad Dominguez, 30, turns to the crowd and, using sign language, he communicates “I am going to win.” The recipient of that message is his sister, Lorie Georgeson, who has been caring for her brother on the weekends for about five years.

That was the case last Saturday at the Orange County Regional Bowling Competition from Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley. Chad was one of more than 300 athletes from five regions competing at the event.

For three rounds, 30 frames of bowling, Chad turned to make sure his sister was watching before every ball he tossed down the lanes.

“He is my pal on the weekends. My parents have him during the week and I care for him on the weekends. Actually, he takes care of me,” Lorie said. “I am very lucky, he is motivation for me. Every day he continues to live a full life. He is so much fun.”

During these five years, Lorie has been taking Chad to all of his practices and competitions in both swimming and bowling for the Irvine Eagles. It has made such an impact on Lorie, she began coaching this year.

“He has been competing since he was about eight and I have been watching him since he started,” said Lorie. “The biggest impact Special Olympics has had on him is his sense of accomplishment. The fact he walks in to every competition thinking he is going to win. When he leaves, he knows he won, regardless of the score. He knows he is a winner.”

On this day Chad won gold in his division.

“This is so special to me. He calls me ‘Mom Lorie.’ He tells me he’ll get a strike for me,” said Lorie. “He is a very special man. I am so proud of him.”

MORE PHOTOS: 2018 OC Regional Bowling Competition

Nike 3ON3

A record 24 teams registered to compete in three Special Olympics divisions at the 10th annual Nike Basketball 3ON3 Tournament on Sunday in downtown Los Angeles. Teams included three starters and one reserve, resulting in 96 athletes and Unified partners representing SOSC.

Among the champions crowned were Orange County’s Anaheim Panthers and the L.A. Galaxy Foundation won the Unified division.

PHOTOS: 2018 Nike 3ON3 Basketball Tournament

Pulling Double Duty

Speaking of the L.A. Galaxy, it was an extra busy week for Unified teammates Lauryn De La Torre and Josue Foster.

Not only were both registered for the Nike 3ON3, they also represented their soccer team at the fifth annual Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Showcase presented by MLS WORKS and ESPN on July 31. The match, featuring 21 MLS clubs split into East and West teams, ended in a 1-1 draw at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground in Marietta, Ga.

Making the trip with them was L.A. Galaxy Special Olympics Unified coach Armando Guzman.

Training Camp with the Chargers, Rams

The Southern California area’s two professional football teams continued to show their support for SOSC.

Last Friday, the Los Angeles Rams invited SOSC athletes to training camp for a VIP experience. Among the familiar faces to greet them during the day was All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker, who’s made a number of appearances at past football clinics and SOSC events.

On Monday, the Los Angeles Chargers hosted Special Olympics Day at their training camp in Costa Mesa. Every foam finger purchased resulted in a donation to SOSC on behalf of the Chargers.

PHOTOS: SOSC at Chargers Training Camp

At a typical SOSC event, it’s customary for volunteers to form two lines and create a tunnel for athletes to walk through and receive high-fives. The roles were reversed on this day, as the athletes were the ones greeting Chargers players and coaches walking through with high-fives.

The athletes also took part in skills drills in the Fan Zone, and they got to meet such stars as defensive lineman Joey Bosa and Chargers legend Shawne Merriman.

Inside the SOSC is a blog written by staff member Tracy McDannald. John Shaffer, manager of public relations and social media, contributed to this report. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.

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