Manuel “Manny” Guallpa Mendez of New York, New York, was introduced to Special Olympics nearly a year ago and will soon represent Special Olympics USA as a Unified partner in soccer. Soccer has always been one of Manny’s greatest passions and, through Special Olympics, he has continued to hone his skills, becoming a champion alongside his teammates. Competing with Special Olympics, Manny’s soccer team won a tournament hosted by the New York Red Bulls, an American professional soccer club. His skills have also earned him two championship awards in futsal, the FIFA-recognized form of small-sided indoor soccer.
Manny is a student at Baruch College in New York City and is employed as a salesperson at Best Buy. He frequents the gym daily with his sister and schedules an hour of his day to practice soccer. His inspiration and strength are sourced from his parents and his admiration for Lionel Messi, who led his Argentinian team to victory in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. Like Messi, Manny will soon compete on an international stage, an experience he will always appreciate and will never forget.