Before competition begins in June at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, an elite group of law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes will escort the Special Olympics Flame of Hope on a journey across Florida. Law enforcement officers along with Special Olympics athletes will make up the prestigious “Final Leg” team for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR).
Congratulations to SOSC athlete Michael Leon from Glendale on being selected to represent Special Olympics Southern California in the Torch Run Final Leg at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games!
Michael participated in his very first Special Olympics track meet in 2009.
He loves to compete – and has participated in many competitions – including the Southern California Summer Games at Long Beach State University and USC, and the Fall Games in Fountain Valley.
In January, 2015 he was invited to participate in the Special Olympics “Athlete Leadership Program” – where he became a Global Messenger – and now speaks on behalf of Special Olympics to different business and civic groups.
In the Fall of 2018, Michael was awarded the Richard L. Van Kirk Award for outreach on behalf of SOSC as a Global Messenger.
A few months later, Michael was invited to participate at the 2018 Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) International Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. There he was nominated for the LETR Athlete Award – the first athlete from Southern California to be nominated for such an honor. He was also asked to attend the LETR International Conference in Aurora, Colorado in September 2019 – where he had been re-nominated for the LETR Athlete Award. He has been nominated again in 2020 and 2021 – but due to the Covid pandemic the conferences have been cancelled.
Away from the field or gym, Michael has been a coach in the Young Athletes Program, run alongside police and sheriffs during the Law Enforcement Torch Run, and has volunteered at the Special Olympics World Games held in Los Angeles in 2015.
Michael was a member of the Special Olympics Glendale Leadership Council and serves on the LETR – Southern California Council as the athlete representative. He has also been asked to serve as the athlete rep on the LETR Guardian Bowl Committee (Flag football competition among law enforcement).
Michael is an avid sports fan. His favorite professional sports teams include the LA Rams, Boston Celtics and LA Dodgers. His favorite college teams include the Baylor Bears and USC Trojans – no matter the sport!
Michael is on the autism spectrum and has been in Special Education classes since kindergarten. Michael has always strived to do the best he can – and was able to gain his High School Diploma in 2016.
Since graduation, Michael has been a client of Tierra Del Sol – a program for people with a broad range of intellectual disabilities. Under the direction of Tierra Del Sol, Michael has enjoyed working as a volunteer teacher’s aide at the Vaughn Early Education Center in Pacoima, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
At Vaughn, Michael has worked with pre-schoolers and their teachers. He has helped young pre-school children in the classrooms, gotten them to take their naps, plays games, read books to them, and has done attendance data entry.
Since the pandemic, the volunteers were not able to be on campus. In Fall 2021, The LAUSD had still not allowed their return – but have gradually eased some restrictions and are getting ready for volunteers to return to campus – hopefully in Winter 2022.
In the meantime, Michael has continued to be an “associate” of Tierra Del Sol. TDS has employed Michael as a part-time online instructor. He teaches Communications/Public Speaking, Exercise/Fitness, and Mindfulness classes via Zoom twice a week. These classes are offered to other TDS associates as well as staff members.
Make a Donation
Make a donation to support Team SOSC at the USA Games and local athletes in Los Angeles County in honor of Michael.