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Auf Wiedersehen, Austria! Hello, USA!

After an amazing Winter World Games, Special Olympics USA has returned home to the States!

Be sure to check out all of our photos on Flickr to re-live the excitement of the Games by clicking the link below:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/soteamusa/albums

And, you can see final results for all of our athletes at the link below:

2017 World Winter Games Results

Special Olympics USA Recap (3/22)

 

Floor Hockey and Skating Recap (3/21)

All three speed skaters competing in the 777m final on Tuesday again set personal records:

  • Craig Licorish, 1:58 (Bronze)
  • Patrick Adams, 1:51 (DQ)
  • Thomas Shimoda, 1:56 (Bronze)

Wednesday’s schedule includes 222m finals for the following skaters:

  • Christina Dryer at 10 a.m.
  • Dana Shick at 10:10 a.m.
  • Cornell Gray at 10:30 a.m.
  • Deontrea Grant at 10:36 a.m.

The traditional floor hockey team from Southern California played Trinidad & Tobago Tuesday and won 11-3. Coach Rodney Hurn said the team didn’t really change its approach from prior games, it’s just getting healthy at the right time. The last few days the team has been shorthanded with at least one player being out due to an illness.

“They’re healing and getting healthy,” Hurn said. “Everybody played today. Their play was much more versatile and more powerful with the extra sleep.”

Jordan Bradley had 9 goals and Casey Lucore had 25 saves in net. The Southern California team is ranked No. 2 in the division and plays Morocco again at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. The game is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN!

The Unified team from New York plays China at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday morning saw Allan Lohr and Ian Rawn practiced their free skate Level 3.

“They got their feet back under them and are ready for competition on Thursday,” said coach Tappie Dellinger.

Sharita Taylor and Joni Talavera competed in Ice Dance Level 2 and 4 today.
“Sharita looked beautiful in her black and red tango dress,” she said. She currently sits in third place out of six. Both of them will skate again in their finals on Thursday along with Allan and Ian.

Joni skated her foxtrot and “carried herself very gracefully across the ice.” She currently sits in second place in her division.
The team took advantage of some downtime and walked around downtown Graz. They then came back to the arena in the evening to watch Michelle Kwan and Trixi Schuba, 1972 Austrian gold medalist, skate with other athletes. The team was lucky enough to pose for a photo with the two of them!

On Wednesday, Laura Beth Matus has Level 2 Free Skate finals at 1:30 p.m, while Sharita and Joni both have practice for their competitions on Thursday.

2017 World Winter Games Results

Results will be updated regularly throughout the Games.

Floor Hockey and Speed Skating Recap (3/18)

Saturday was the first day of competition for the Unified floor hockey team from New York. They had to fit in a lot of games in a short amount of time to make sure they made the trek to Schladming in time for Opening Ceremony and ended the day 3-1 during their divisioning games.

The first match resulted in two goals vs. Uganda with athletes and Unified Partners really working together to pick apart their opponent.

The second game of the day against Cuba brought a different challenge – one this team hadn’t faced before – having to play from behind.

“Our guys were intimidated by the size of the Cubans going in,” Stewart said. “To see them bounce back with two goals after falling behind was nice. They showed heart and resiliency, which I’m sure I’ll need to remind them of as the tournament goes on.”

It was a very physical game, which brought out the best in the young, inexperienced team from New York.

“Some of our Unified Partners play ice hockey and said that they haven’t been hit has hard in those games as they were today (against Cuba and Russia),” Stewart said.

The third game saw them matched up against Russia, which resulted in a 1-5 loss.

“They just had our number every shift,” Stewart said. “But as tough as it was, Max Zalta (Unified Partner) wasn’t discouraged at all and talked to the team afterward. He said he felt if we changed our strategy, manned up more and focused on a defensive approach, it could really help against a team as fast and physical as Russia.”

They put that strategy to use in the team’s final game of the day vs. Bangladesh and came out on top with a 3-0 two-line shortened game.

Another player who really stood out on the court yesterday according was Christopher Lopez (defense) who set the tone against Cuba.

Assistant coach Liz Fernandez said, “The importance of having a Unified Partner and an athlete function in unison is that when they have athletes and sticks in hand, nobody can tell who is who and that’s critically important for a Unified team.”

The traditional florr hockey team from Southern California has at least one game on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Schedule is alwasy subject to change, so please see the full schedule (http://www.specialolympics.org/RegionsPages/GamesSchedule.aspx) for up-to-date information.

Sunday was a day of personal bests for all of Special Olympics USA’s 500m speed skaters:

  • Patrick Adams – 1:11 (personal record by three seconds)
  • Thomas Shimoda – 1:14 (personal record by six seconds)
  • Alyssa Neil – 1:27 (personal record by 18 seconds)
  • Craig Licorish – 1:16 (personal record by 20 seconds)
  • Timothy McConnell – 1:23 (personal record by 28 seconds)

Speed skating coach Ken Hart couldn’t have been more proud or ecstatic of how his skaters competed today during divisioning.

“I think the extra day of practice certainly helped,” Hart said. “They all shot off the line right off the bat and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s great!’”

Hart kept track of their splits on every lap and noticed the trend of every skater being better on nearly every lap than they had ever been before.

Off the ice, Hart said he looks forward to the next few days as the team has more opportunities to take in everything else World Games has to offer including Olympic Town, Healthy Athletes and cheering on fellow teammates in other sports.

“Tim is the cheerleader of the team, which is surprising because he’s usually so quiet,” Hart said. “I think we’ll see more of that as we move out of divisioning and into the finals.”

Sunday’s schedule includes the following:

  • Women 222m: Dana Shick and Christina Dryer: 10 a.m.
  • Men 222m: Deontrea Grant and Cornell Gray: 10:30 a.m.
  • Men 777m: Patrick Adams, Thomas Shimoda and Craig Licorish: 11:30 a.m.

Floor Hockey and Skating Recap (3/17)

The speed and figure skaters hit the ice and practice towards the end of the week. While the speed skaters were taking laps inside the arena, figure skaters had the outdoor facility for a round of Compulsory Practice.

Laura Beth Matus of Alabama (Level 2) was the first Special Olympics USA figure skaters to train on Friday morning. Figure skating coach Tappie Dellinger said this was Matus’s first time on an outdoor skating arena and while she was nervous, she had a “decent practice working on her stroking and crossovers.” 

Ian Rawn of Texas (Level 3) was tasked with working on his edge quality and his turns. “He was very excited to be back on the ice,” Dellinger said. “He practiced hard and enjoyed being outdoors.”

Allan Lohr of Florida (Level 3) loves a challenge, according to Dellinger. “He’s very laid back, but he certainly can recognize his competition when he sees it – he views it as a challenge. He’s very ready for competition.”

Joni Talavera of Pennsylvania (Level 6) focused on her edge quality today. “She’s much stronger with her edge skills since training camp.”

Meanwhile, the traditional floor hockey team from Southern California played a number of games:

  • T 1-1 vs. Japan
  • W 4-0 vs. Sweden
  • W 6-0 vs. Lithuania
  • L 0-2 vs. Canada
  • W 4-1 vs. China

These games were for regulation teams only and were only for divisioning so the games were shortened to 9 minutes.

Head coach Rodney Hurn said of the team’s 3-1-1 record on Friday, “The first game we should have won. They hadn’t practiced in two weeks, so they were a little rusty, but we got in the groove after that.”

One thing Hurn said the team needs to work on for future games is its passing accuracy, but that the on-court communication between teammates was stellar.

A couple of athletes who stood out today were Jordan Bradley (four goals) and Arianna Gulick who was aggressive as a winger and defender.

“Being a girl out there with all those guys, she wasn’t afraid to throw her butt in front of some big dudes,” Hurn said. “That’s my girl!”

In the lone loss today, Casey Lucore, shined in net stopping 18 Canadian shots.

The team will take the court again on Sunday for the beginning of round robin games (times and opponents TBD).

“We’re really looking forward to the games coming up,” Hurn said.

An Amazing Host Town Experience in Graz

Every World Games, communities around the Games site’s host delegations for 2-3 days in advance of the Games so that athletes can acclimate, rest, condition and most importantly, experience the culture and people of the host nation.
AMS treated the Special Olympics USA delegation to an outstanding host town experience full of adventure and fun. The team broke into two groups for a tour of the Riegersburg Castle and the Zotter Chocolate Factory.
To reach the top, they traveled by cable car – a short trip with a beautiful view of the Graz countryside. Then, the athletes, coaches and delegates embarked on a guided tour where they learned about the Lichtenstein family and how the castle came to be.
The Zotter Chocolate Factory was a sweet treat for the delegation. Josef Zotter, known as the “Willy Wonka of Austria,” greeted the the group before they tasted dozens of types of chocolate – from the beans to the bars!
The two groups merged for lunch at the base of the Riegersburg Castle where they were greeted by Prince Emmanuel, the castle’s current owner.
The evening concluded with a party hosted by AMS, a semiconductor company in nearby Premstatten, that hosted the delegation and volunteered during host town all week. The athletes enjoyed authentic song and dance performances, authentic Bavarian fare and the pantomime McBee!
Special Olympics USA thanks everyone who made host town such a wonderful experience.

A Send-Off Celebration in Washington D.C.

On Sunday, March 12 all 200 members of Special Olympics USA gathered in Washington D.C. for the team’s official send-off party before departing for the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

Representatives from Special Olympics USA Premier Sponsor Bank of America, alongside SO Cheer, welcomed the delegation. 

The evening was co-emceed by athlete and member of Special Olympics Southern California’s Board of Directors, Special Olympics Ambassador, and ESPN Analyst for the 2015 and 2017 Special Olympics World Games, Dustin Plunkett. Joining Dustin was Scott Thuman of WJLA.

Wolfgang Waldner, the Ambassador of Austria to the US, wished the national team good luck. The athletes and coaches enjoyed authentic fare while learning German from Andreas Pawlitschek of the Austrian Embassy and enjoying Bavarian tunes from the Edelweiss Band. 

The send-off ended in chants of “USA! USA! USA!”

Special thanks to ESPN and WJLA-TV for their support of the send-off.

Thank you to Special Olympics Delaware for organizing this festive and fun send-off.

To see photos from the evening click here.

ESPN’s Groundbreaking Coverage of Special Olympics World Winter Games Begins March 18 From Austria

  • ESPN’s first World Winter Games coverage includes live three-hour Opening Ceremony featuring Parade of Athletes, Special Guests and musical performances from multi-Grammy Award winner Jason Mraz and Grace VanderWaal
  • Robin Roberts, Kevin Negandhi, Lindsay Czarniak and Dustin Plunkett to host coverage from Graz, Schladming-Rohrmoos and Ramsau 
  • Nightly Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 program to bring viewers stories, competition showcase, interviews and more throughout the Games
  • Coverage also includes: Extensive news, video and information on ESPN.com, ESPN App; Vignette Series across ESPN platforms

ESPN’s global coverage of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, the largest sporting and humanitarian event in 2017, will begin March 18 — just one month away — with a live three-hour special capturing the inspiration, pageantry, performances and special guests of the World Winter Games Opening Ceremony. It marks the first-ever live coverage of the World Winter Games.

From Sunday, March 19, through Friday, March 24, a nightly program – Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 – will bring viewers the stories, competition showcase, interviews and more from Austria.

“Special Olympics reflects all the very best aspects of sports – its power to inspire, forge bonds, build confidence and impact lives,” said Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International. “As storytellers and sports lovers, the World Winter Games represents an incredible opportunity for ESPN to showcase amazing stories of perseverance, strength, acceptance and inclusion to a global audience. These are remarkable athletes and we’re extraordinarily excited to tell their stories around the world.”

As an official broadcaster of the Special Olympics World Winter Games, ESPN’s coverage will be carried across the ABC and ESPN family of networks in the U.S. (ABC, ESPN2) as well as streamed on the ESPN app and WatchESPN (full schedule below).

“Thanks to our partner ESPN and their unprecedented coverage for a World Winter Games, in less than a month, millions of people will be able to tune in and watch 2,700 athletes from 107 nations around the world compete and share their stories of courage, determination and achievement,” said Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics.  “ESPN’s reach and expertise in storytelling gives us the tremendous opportunity to share how the power of sports and inclusion transforms lives and changes perceptions that exist for people with intellectual disabilities – one of the most marginalized populations in the world.”

ESPN’s coverage will also be carried in 190 countries and territories around the world, including on ESPN television and streaming channels in Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, TSN in Canada, SONY ESPN in India, ESPN on BT Sport in the UK and Ireland, Tencent digital platforms in China (through ESPN’s long-term collaboration with Tencent) and the ESPN Player streaming service in Europe.  Additionally, through syndication, ESPN coverage will appear in dozens of countries and territories. It marks the broadest-reaching coverage ever for a Special Olympics World Winter Games.

Transcending the boundaries of geography, nationality, gender, age, politics, culture and religion, the Special Olympics World Winter Games will bring together more than 2,700 athletes and 1,000 coaches representing 107 countries, along with 10,000 volunteers and thousands of spectators, all in celebration of inclusion and the power of sport. Athletes will compete in Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Floor Hockey, Floorball, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, and Stick Shooting at venues in Schladming-Rohrmoos, Graz and Ramsau, Austria.

Toyota will again be a sponsor of ESPN’s coverage, as it was for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games coverage.

Special Olympics World Winter Games: Opening Ceremony and Nightly Coverage 

ESPN’s coverage of the World Winter Games Opening Ceremony will mark the first-ever complete, live coverage of the star-studded spectacle and will be hosted by Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, ESPN’s Lindsey Czarniak and Kevin Negandhi and ESPN contributor and Special Olympics Global Messenger Dustin Plunkett. ESPN’s Marty Smith will be with the U.S. delegation for the Opening Ceremony, providing reports throughout.

ESPN’s coverage will be live from the Planai Stadium in Schladming-Rohrmoos and will bring viewers the Parade of Athletes, the lighting of the Special Olympics Cauldron, as well as capture performances by multi-Grammy Award-winning musician Jason Mraz, as well as 13-year-old winner of America’s Got Talent, Grace VanderWaal.  It will also feature appearances by Princess Charlene of Monaco, Apolo Ohno, Hannah Teter, Dikembe Mutumbo, Michelle Kwan, Sam Perkins and others.

ESPN’s nightly show – Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017will be produced from on site in Schladming-Rohrmoos, Austria with direct connectivity to ESPN’s Bristol headquarters. Each night, it will also include interviews, features, special guests, a daily “competition showcase” segment, reporting from ESPN’s Jen Lada, Victoria Arlen and Smith.

Throughout both the Opening Ceremony coverage and its nightly show ESPN will tell the remarkable and inspiring individual stories of athletes, coaches and families from around the world in Up Close and Personal” features. “Up Close and Personal” segments were first made famous by the legendary Roone Arledge at ABC Sports and returned to television (for the first time since 1988) with ESPN’s coverage of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.


Special Olympics World Winter Games: ESPN Digital Media

ESPN’s global digital platforms – the world’s leading portfolio of digital sports properties in the world, including local editions of ESPN.com and the ESPN App, streaming platforms and more – will offer extensive coverage in the build-up to, and throughout, the World Winter Games.

ESPN streaming services around the world will carry the coverage of the World Winter Games, including the Watch ESPN in the US, Brazil and Australia, ESPN Play throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and ESPN Player in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

With news, long-form feature storytelling, video, exclusive blogs from athletes, coaches and volunteers, photo galleries and more, ESPN will examine the people and topics of the Special Olympics movement. ESPN’s Melissa Isaacson and Alyssa Roenigk will lead the reporting from on site in Austria with ESPN’s editorial teams from all over the globe contributing to the coverage.

U.S. TV Schedule:  ESPN’s Coverage of Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 

Day/Date Program Time (ET) Network
Sat, Mar 18 LIVE: Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 — Opening Ceremony 2-5 p.m. ABC
Sun, Mar 19 Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 2-3 p.m. ABC
Mon, Mar 20 Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 6-6:30 p.m. ESPN2
Tue, Mar 21 Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 6-7 p.m. ESPN2
Wed, Mar 22 Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 6-7 p.m. ESPN2
Thu, Mar 23 Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 6-7 p.m. ESPN2
Fri, Mar 24 Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 6-7 p.m. ESPN2
Sun, Mar 26 Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 —
Best of the Games
2-3 p.m. ABC

NOTE:   All shows will also be simulcast on the ESPN App and WatchESPN

Contact:
ESPN:  Paul Melvin      +1 860 766 5069 or paul.melvin@espn.com
Teri Couch       +1 860 766 4696 or teri.couch@espn.com


About Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017
Every two years, Special Olympics holds its flagship event, the World Games, demonstrating sports excellence, which promotes equality, respect and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities around the world. Transcending the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion, the world will come together to celebrate inclusion around the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Graz, Schladming-Rohrmoos and Ramsau, Austria 14 March – 25 March 2017. More than 2,700 athletes and 1,000 coaches representing 107 countries, along with 10,000 volunteers and thousands more spectators, will participate in and watch exciting sports and community events. This is the second time Austria has hosted the World Winter Games, having also staged the event in 1993. Sports featured are Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Floor Hockey, Floorball, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, and Stick Shooting. For more information on the 2017 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.austria2017.org and on social on Facebook, and Twitter.

ESPN and Special Olympics
ESPN is proud of its relationship with Special Olympics, which spans more than 31 years and over the past three years, ESPN has continued to deepen its relationship with the Special Olympics movement.

Earlier this year, ESPN and Special Olympics committed to continuing their alliance to use the power of sports to promote social inclusion and acceptance by reaching two agreements:  an extension, and expansion, of ESPN’s Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports® and a new, three-year global programming agreement.

The new $1.5 million grant supports Special Olympics Unified Sports, as well as other initiatives, and extends and expands a role ESPN has held since 2013. Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Special Olympics Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. With support from ESPN and others, Special Olympics has grown this innovative and inclusive program to more than 1.2 million participants. As part of the continued support of Unified Sports, ESPN will invest in Special Olympics’ goal to build Unified Sports programming and resources in 10,000 schools by 2020 and ensuring 100,000 coaches receive new/renewed sports certifications by 2020.

ESPN’s global Special Olympics programming agreement means ESPN is not only an Official Broadcaster of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, but also the Official Broadcaster of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, and the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games. ESPN is also adding more news and feature coverage of other Special Olympics events, athletes and stories over the course of the three-year agreement

ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use the power of sport to positively address society’s most pressing needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information go to www.espn.com/citizenship 

Special Performances Announced for the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games

The world’s largest sports and humanitarian event this year – the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria – today announced two very special performances for the event’s Opening Ceremony on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Performers include multi-Grammy award-winning folk-pop songsmith Jason Mraz and 13-year old winner of America’s Got Talent Grace VanderWaal.

Jason Mraz will perform at the Opening Ceremony on March 18.

Nearly 2,700 athletes and 1,000 coaches representing 107 nations will be welcomed at the Opening Ceremony, held at the Planai Stadium in Schladming, a regular stop on the World Cup circuit and site of the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

To honor the athletes, Jason Mraz will be planning a special performance which will be a powerful unification of Special Olympics youth/athletes and the groundbreaking new music and arts education program that is supported by the Jason Mraz Foundation, called LIVE ART.  Children from a local Schladming music program will also participate in the performance.  Mraz will perform his record-setting song, “I’m Yours,” as well as his hit song “I Won’t Give Up” – which he will perform alongside VanderWaal, LIVE ART participants and the local Schladming choir.   “I’m incredibly honored to be asked to perform during the Opening Ceremony, celebrating the courage, determination and spirit of every Special Olympics athlete who traveled to compete in these Games,” said Jason Mraz.  “Special Olympics is an organization that I feel embraces the skills and talents of every person and I do the same thing through my work with LIVE ART.”

LIVE ART is an equally inclusive program for both students with and without disabilities, of all ages, who work together for a year using performing arts to share messages of acceptance, compassion and empathy. Mraz works as an artistic advisor and funder alongside LIVE ART Director Erin Thomas-Foley, creating an inspiring culminating performance each year featuring nationally recognized recording artists performing with the students. The program is produced by SPARC, The School of the Performing Arts in Richmond, Virginia where Jason studied as a child.  www.sparconline.org/liveart

Princess Charlene of Monaco, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and Olympic Gold Medalist Hannah Teter, American short track speed skating Olympic champion Apolo Ohno, Hall of Famer and Special Olympics Global Ambassador and Board Member Dikembe Mutombo, Olympic figure-skating legend and Special Olympics International Board Member Michelle Kwan and NBA Legend and Special Olympics

International Board Member Sam Perkins, and other distinguished personalities will cheer on the athletes at the Planai.  A global audience can watch coverage provided by ESPN, an official broadcast partner of the World Games. ESPN is distributing the Opening Ceremony around the world in multiple languages. Tickets to the Opening Ceremony and this once-in-a-lifetime experience are available for purchase via www.oeticket.com.

More than 20,000 fans including families, volunteers, Heads of State, Ministers of Sport, and celebrities including trainer and television personality Jillian Michaels and ballroom dance champion, professional dancer and choreographer Louie Van Amstel will attend the Games and cheer on the athletes over the eight days of competition.

“The whole world will come to Austria and will celebrate a big sports and social event with us. We look forward to welcoming all athletes and coaches and guests in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau,” said Marc Angelini and Max Pichler, the two CEOs from Austria2017. More than four years preparation are nearly over and the Organizing Committee is ready for the Games.  Angelini and Pichler added, “We hope that it’s going to be an unforgettable event for everybody!”

Specific details of the night’s event, which will include the Parade of Athletes and culmination of the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® that will light the World Games cauldron, are being kept under wraps until closer to the event.

The World Games will be hosted from 14 March-25 March and feature 9 Olympic-style sports: Floorball, Floor Hockey, Stick Shooting, Figure Skating, Short Track Speed Skating, Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing.  These Games will showcase the unlimited potential of people with intellectual disabilities – the largest disability population in the world. Competitions will take place in the cities of Graz, Schladming, Rohrmoos and Ramsau.  All competitions are free and open to the public. Plan your outing to support the athletes by checking out the competition schedule here:  Austria 2017 Games Schedule.

The Opening Ceremony will take place at the Planai Stadium in Schladming, Austria on Saturday, March 18, 2017 starting at 2:00 p.m. EST/7:00 p.m. local Austrian time and will be brought to a worldwide audience by ESPN and local Austrian broadcast partner ORF.  To learn more and purchase tickets, visit www.oeticket.com.  Please visit www.austria2017.org for additional updates to Opening Ceremony performances.

Earlier this week,      Special Olympics announced the first-ever social fundraising collaboration with GoFundMe. As part of the effort, nearly 500 GoFundMes are being created by teams, coaches, as well as by Olympians, top professional athletes, YouTube stars and other influencers to support athletes attending the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria next month. To donate and learn more about the athlete stories, and view all Special Olympic GoFundMes, visit: gofundme.com/specialolympics

About Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017

Every two years, Special Olympics holds its flagship event, the World Games, demonstrating sports excellence, which promotes equality, respect and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities around the world. Transcending the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion, the world will come together to celebrate inclusion around the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Graz, Schladming, Rohrmoos and Ramsau, Austria 14 March – 25 March 2017. Nearly 2,700 athletes and 1,000 coaches representing 107 countries, along with 10,000 volunteers and thousands more spectators, will participate in and watch exciting sports and community events. This is the second time Austria has hosted the World Winter Games, having also staged the event in 1993. Sports featured are Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Floor Hockey, Floorball, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, and Stick Shooting. Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017 sponsors include: Energie Netze, Audi, Special Olympics Founding Partner Coca-Cola, Uniqa and Official Technology Partner Microsoft.   For more information on the 2017 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer, sponsorship opportunities and the complete list of sponsors, visit  www.austria2017.org and on social on  Facebook, and  Twitter.

About Jason Mraz

Jason Mraz has quietly amassed a youthful, diverse, and vibrant fan-base throughout all parts of the globe. Since getting his start in coffeehouses in his adopted city of San Diego, Mraz has brought his positive message and soulful, folk-pop sound to rapt audiences around the world through his recordings, vibrant live performances, and philanthropic efforts. Along the way, he has earned diamond, multi-platinum or platinum certifications in numerous territories for his various releases, made pop history with his record-breaking classic single, “I’m Yours” and “I Won’t Give Up”, racked up 2 Grammy Awards among 6 nominations, won a prestigious Hal David Songwriter Hall of Fame Award, won Teen Choice and People’s Choice awards, sold out amphitheaters and arenas across the globe, including sell-outs at such iconic venues as The Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden, and London’s O2 Arena. Mraz is first and foremost a committed global citizen. His impassioned social activism and philanthropic efforts span wide-ranging environmental advocacy and ardent support for LGBT equality.

About Grace VanderWaal

Thirteen-year-old America’s Got Talent winner Grace VanderWaal captured the hearts of America with her unique singer-songwriter talent, performing all original music during the AGT competition using her signature ukulele. Grace’s AGT audition clip featuring her song “I Don’t Know My Name” went viral and is approaching 200 million views, with rockstar Stevie Nicks commenting, “She reminds me a lot of me in a lot of ways…Whatever happens, Grace is going to the top.”   The young breakout star has received celebrity praise from the likes of Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher, Jason Mraz, Katy Perry, Reese Witherspoon, Shawn Mendes and Taylor Swift. Signed to Columbia Records and Syco Music, Grace released her debut EP Perfectly Imperfect on December 2, and it debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart.
 
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