INSIDE SOSC: Summer Games Nears, Inclusion Revolution Grows

Special Olympics Southern California athletes have less than a month to go before Summer Games. Two events got a taste of what’s to come, as all five sports – basketball, bocce, flag football, swimming, and track and field – were on display at both the Orange County Regional Spring Games and Warren High School Spring Games this past weekend.

Meanwhile, the CIF Southern Section embraced the Play Unified movement.

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Inclusion Revolution Grows

Elsewhere that same day, the CIF Southern Section hosted its inaugural Unified Track and Field Championships at Trabuco Hills High School.

More than 150 athletes with and without intellectual disabilities, representing 10 Southern Section schools, participated in four individual races, a 4×100-meter relay and long jump.

The top finishers qualified to take part in this Saturday’s Masters Meet at El Camino College.

Family Bonds Through Games 

On May 11, the 2019 Warren High Spring Games took place in Downey, CA. Approximately 350 volunteers and 285 coaches attended to ensure the competitions in track and field, bocce, flag football and swimming for 720 athletes were ran seamlessly.

Among these athletes was Hailie Triana Moreno, 14. Hailie’s father Ricardo, her aunt Laura and her grandparents were all there to cheer her on as she competed in swimming events. Hailie has been a Special Olympics athlete for two years; and though she has tried other sports, swimming has been her calling card.

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“She loves to swim more than any other event. She can be pretty shy, but when she swims she gets out of her shell a little,” says Ricardo.

Hailie went on to win two medals during the early bout of the day: First place in the 25m butterfly (27.5s) and second place in the 25m backstroke (28.31s).

Hailie will be competing in this year’s Summer Games on June 8 and 9. When asked on a scale of 1-10 how excited is she for one of the biggest Games of the year, “a lot!” as a big smile permeates her face with excitement.

Plenty of Competition at the Orange County Spring Games

Irvine High School played host to over 900 Special Olympics Southern California athletes, countless volunteers and plenty of family members and supporters this past Saturday, May 11 for the Orange County Regional Spring Games.

The event ran all day, starting off with an impressive opening parade at 9 a.m. and wrapping up around 4 p.m. Between the five different sports (athletics, bocce, basketball, flag football and swimming) and the four different complexes that they took place in on the large high school campus, there was no shortage of competitions.

This year was the first time that teams were officially competing against each other in flag football, and wow was it fun to watch. From Hail Mary passes to quick streaks up the sidelines, the games were packed full of exciting, athletic plays as the athletes got the chance to show their skills.

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A large turnout like the one on Saturday is just the kind of thing Mark Wolffer lives for. Having been a Special Olympics athlete now for five years, the community of people here is what he loves most. “He loves people. He’s well known for his big smile,” said his mother Sabrina Wolffer. “You see him and he’s always smiling, it doesn’t matter if he’s tired or not.”

Her statement couldn’t have been more accurate. Mark’s face was lit up with his big smile all day as he took home one silver and three gold medals in track and field.

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Inside the SOSC is a blog managed by staff member Tracy McDannald. SOSC staff member Chris Jones and volunteer Tessa Sechler 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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