USA Games Unified Partner Spotlight: Erin Larner Shares Impact of Being a Unified Partner

By Kimberly Villa

“I am really excited to get this opportunity to go play at USA Games, to be part of Team SOSC, and to get the chance to go experience this crazy adventure. It’s going to be great!”

When Erin Larner first volunteered at a Special Olympics event as a fifth grader, she would have never imagined she would be preparing for a trip to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games as a Unified Partner in golf. Her volunteer days started after her mom volunteered for an event and invited her to join. In the years that followed, the duo would log many volunteer hours assisting at events and coaching. Erin played Unified Volleyball in high school and Special Olympics athletes and their families became an extension of her own family.

After returning from college and settling into her career, Erin knew it was time to get involved with Special Olympics in Kern County. Having previously been a coach, Erin said that she always enjoyed it because you can see your athletes develop over time but “being a Unified Partner is so fun because you are such a part of the process, you really become a team. You can see your shot, you can really strategize, talk about it, adjust and get a lot more in depth as a partner,” she said. 

Erin was initially partnered with Dawn Albritton because they are both left-handed, and now that lefty twosome will be heading to USA Games together. Erin was shocked and excited when she received the news that they had been selected. In addition to experiencing the competition with Dawn, Erin is excited to “get the chance to play with athletes from all over the US and just getting meet that many people.” 

After decades of participation in Special Olympics, Erin’s enthusiasm has not dwindled, in fact, she has more excitement and perspective on the long-term benefits for coaches and athletes. “The program is so unique and it’s such a different experience. You don’t have to be an amazing athlete [to coach], but Dawn and I have a great time and we compete and we’re competitive at our level. There’s a sport for everyone. Everyone can be successful and competitive – we play to win,” said Erin, adding, “Special Olympics is such a unique sporting experience [in the way athletes support and encourage one another] – it really is an example of the best in people. You will see such great examples of sportsmanship and encouraging each other.” 

  1. l really happy for you go to USA games my name is Jolie delarbre l am a swimming at the Santa Barbara l am really fast it help me with my heart make it stronger and help me to lose some weight down for me


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