James Winnen of Springfield, Arkansas, has been involved with Special Olympics for the past 17 years, starting as a volunteer in 2005. As a member of the Games Management Team, he now manages the Special Olympics Arkansas Area 17 swim meet. He has coached Special Olympics athletes in basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, floor hockey, golf, softball, stand up paddleboard, swimming and volleyball. He has also competed as a Unified partner and served as an official. In the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, he will serve as an assistant coach in swimming. His first World Games, James has participated in the Special Olympics USA Games in 2010, 2018 and 2022.
Surviving a near-drowning incident and a rare hip disease as a child, James greatly admires the tenacity of his children and Special Olympics athletes in overcoming obstacles. His greatest achievements include running a half marathon and earning his fifth-degree black belt in martial arts. James is employed as a program coordinator at Conway Human Development Center, supervising employees providing care to residents with disabilities. He also directs Community Connections, a nonprofit martial arts program for children with disabilities. Attending a Special Olympics World Games has been a dream of James’ since attending his first Special Olympics USA Games in 2010.