News & Stories

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Two and a half years ago, Special Olympics Michigan athlete Christina Danieli became a mother. While her day-to-day life changed, her love for competitive swimming remained a constant. Many hours spent in the pool strengthened her endurance and her stamina. She learned to maintain a high level of focus and dedication to training, all of which prepared her for becoming a mother to Andrew. Now inseparable, the two cherish time spent together, especially when it’s spent in the water.
2 Min Read

The Walk, The Talk

At 8 years old, Scott McCullough was introduced to Special Olympics and 40 years later, he is still walking the walk. This time, it’s on snowshoes. From Nashua, New Hampshire, McCullough trained in a variety of sports with Special Olympics New Hampshire long before he learned of snowshoeing. Now nominated to represent Special Olympics USA in the Special Olympics World Winter Games Torino 2025, he’s proven his ability to walk that walk. And for those who know McCullough, he can talk the talk too.
1 Min Read

The Last Defender

“For each of these marks, there is a story.”
2 Min Read

Back Home

Special Olympics USA families traveled thousands of miles to cheer for USA. Tennis athlete Heidi Sand’s family happened to be in the neighborhood. In 1955, Heidi’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Germany. From her mother, Jacque Martin, and her grandmother, Sabina Jurchen, Heidi learned the culture. An ocean away, they remained in contact with their extended family, sharing life updates via Facebook. The last time Heidi saw her family from Germany, she was 4 years old. Thirty-three years later, they watched her win gold at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin.
2 Min Read

Smooth Sailing

Special Olympics USA Unified sailing partner Bobby Westlake carpooled to elementary school with a family friend and their daughter, his classmate. Decades later, he would compete with that classmate’s son in the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin. Athlete Tyler Dodson and his Unified partner Bobby began sailing together in January. Prior to training as a team, they chartered their respective courses.
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The Phoenix Police Department radio code for a suspicious person or activity is 647. It’s a call for backup. Head Special Olympics USA 3x3 Unified basketball coach Mary Roberts and assistant coach Mandy Faust have a combined 55 years of experience with the Phoenix Police Department and have used that code many a time. Now retired, the two have introduced the code to their team.
2 Min Read

Bright as Dey

In any given room, Special Olympics USA cycling athlete Alisha Dey is not the loudest. Her smile says it all. At the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, you can find her in the front row at every awards ceremony. She’s not chanting, she’s not clapping, but she’s smiling, in awe of her fellow athletes.
2 Min Read

Heavy Lift

In itself, coaching is a heavy lift. Special Olympics USA assistant powerlifting coach Nina Weston is accustomed to the weight. As a certified personal trainer, she established her coaching resume prior to learning about Special Olympics. At the Sparta-White County Family YMCA in Tennessee, she is the fitness and wellness director. In addition, she is a conditioning coach, a group fitness instructor and aquatics instructor.
2 Min Read

Chain Reaction

Behind the powerhouse that is Special Olympics USA, there is its management team. This dedicated group of individuals has joined the delegation in Berlin as experts in medical care, logistics, communication and sport. Unique to the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, the Special Olympics USA Sport Management Team is comprised of all women.
5 Min Read

Setting Precedent

Special Olympics USA rhythmic gymnastics athlete Colleen Costello sets a precedent in every room she enters. An athlete leader, she takes her role seriously, which means setting an example for her peers and illustrating the mission of Special Olympics through action. She is the first athlete to serve on the Special Olympics Illinois Board of Directors and is in her second term. At the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, she set a precedent from her first routine, a mentality that earned her the first gold medal for Special Olympics USA.
1 Min Read