Six months sure did fly by, didn’t it?
Special Olympics Southern California, its athletes and supporters have celebrated the organization’s 50th anniversary in grand fashion, to this point. Here’s a look back at some of the key moments and stories from the first half of the year:
2019 Floor Hockey Championship
The first championship event of the calendar year took place in a new venue, and host Kern County made it a memorable day on March 9.
The Kern County Condors were one of four gold medalists, as 16 teams split into four divisions battled it out at the Kern County Fairgrounds. Local coach Mike Higgins was presented the coach of the season award, and correctional officer and third-year coach Jaime Bermudez pulled double duty as he watched his daughter and her teammates claim the gold.
2019 World Games
Of the 215 Special Olympics USA athletes sent to Abu Dhabi to compete in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in March, six were from Southern California.
Faith Demos, Mark Hanson, Tyrone Garrett, Sarah Kovacs, Krystal Johnson and Jonathan Pierce performed admirably on the big stage. The group combined for four gold, two silver and four bronze medals, as well as two fourth-place, a sixth-place and a participation ribbon over four sports.
L.A. Galaxy Unified’s Band of Brothers
The L.A. Galaxy Unified soccer team came together for a 2-1 season-opening home win over Houston Dynamo Unified on April 19.
Among the 20 athletes with and without intellectual disabilities, brothers Armando and Danny Saucedo got to share the same field and one received a surprise honor from L.A. Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimović.
LA84 Honors Rafer Johnson
At the end of April, the LA84 Foundation opened a new exhibit titled Rafer Johnson. His Life. His Impact.
The exhibit explores the SOSC founder’s life of humility, service and achievement. The exhibit, located in Los Angeles, will be on display at the LA84 Foundation Library through December.
2019 Summer Games
Viral superstar Kodi Lee set the tone at Opening Ceremonies, and more than 1,100 athletes captivated the crowd for the rest of the two-day event on June 8 and 9.
Flag football made its Summer Games debut as an official competition, joining basketball, bocce, swimming, and track and field.
Nonprofit of the Year
Also, at Summer Games’ Opening Ceremonies, Senator Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) was on hand to present SOSC as the 2019 Nonprofit of the Year for California’s 29th Senate District. The recognition was part of the fourth annual California Nonprofits Day.
Dustin Plunkett Heads to U.N.
The very next week, Dustin Plunkett showed that SOSC athletes make more than just a local impact. He joined five Special Olympics athlete leaders from Brazil, Florida, Missouri, the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe as part of a panel discussion at the United Nations.
The panel, titled “The Revolution is Inclusion: Sport as a Catalyst for Social Inclusion,” promoted the need for inclusive policies and programs for people with intellectual disabilities.
Inside the SOSC is a blog managed by staff member Tracy McDannald. 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.