Team New Jersey Takes Home the Gold in More Ways than One at the Special Olympics 2014 USA Games!

First of all, I would like to congratulate ALL of the champions who have participated in this national event. I was at the Opening Ceremonies on June 15th, where law enforcement representatives and athletes from throughout the United States, who ran together for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, brought the Flame of Hope to light the cauldron at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  It was spectacular!

Special Olympics 2014 USA Games Law Enforcement Torch Run: The Flame of Hope is Lit.

Special Olympics 2014 USA Games Law Enforcement Torch Run: The Flame of Hope is lit.

The hosts of the Opening Ceremonies actress and model Brooklyn Decker and Philadelphia 76ers Point Guard Michael Carter Williams.  Participating celebrities also included Jack Ford, Jane Lynch, WWE Superstars Big Show and David Otunga and other surprise guests, and performances by Michael DelGuidice and Big Shot.  Gov. Chris Christie,  made an appearance.

David Garibaldi, Michael Reed, David Otunga, and Jane Lynch

Performance artist David Garibaldi, Michael Reed, David Otunga, and Jane Lynch

Jennifer Dinoia, of Broadway’s Wicked, belted out Defying Gravity.  LaShell Griffin, of Oprah’s “Pop Star Challenge,” sang Dreams are Possible and We Raise This Flag, which was written for the games.

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LaShell Griffin and dancers

I felt like I was at the Superbowl, without the Superbowl part!  There were celebrities, live musical performances, concert performances and more!  If you weren’t there, you wanted to be there…

I also want to share how proud I am of Team New Jersey Baseball. This is my best friend, Phil Luchs, celebrating with Special Olympics’ very first baseball team in the history of Special Olympics, as he and Team New Jersey took home the gold.

Team New Jersey takes home the gold at #2014USAGames Baseball!

A post shared by 2014 SpecialOlympics USAGames (@2014specialolympicsusagames) on

The caption reads:

Team New Jersey baseball got the gold in the first ever baseball game to be contested in Special Olympics history! Great job! #genuinejerseypride @2014specialolympicsusagames

This is an interview with my friend, John Delisa, who is also on Team New Jersey baseball.

The full article can be found at Up At Bat With Special Olympics Athlete John DeLisa – My9 New Jersey, By Sibile Marcellus, @ChasingSibile. My two friends were interviewed, live, on Fox Sports Xtra on June 8th.  I’m still looking to find the video for this segment online to share.

Baseball made its debut as a Special Olympics event. Check out the video and interviews at the link below. via Special Olympics: baseball.

THIS IS TRULY AMAZING!

I was at the game on June 19th when Phil and John took home the gold for Team New Jersey and Special Olympics’ first baseball team ever to compete in any events in the history of Special Olympics worldwide (New Jersey) took home the gold medal!  It was extremely exciting and exhilarating even to watch.

This introductory video was one of the videos played at the 2013 Special Olympics New Jersey Awards Dinner.  Some more friends of mine are featured on it.  My friend, Shaleena, for example, was interviewed for this video.

Katie Eidschun and I each joined separate teams and began competing in tennis competitions the same year.  I am thrilled that she has made it this far!

Having the Special Olympic 2014 U.S.A. Games in New Jersey also inspired the Garden State to pass a bill last week that would ensure that students with disabilities have equal opportunities to participate in sports and physical education programs in all school districts.

~Special Olympics Team New Jersey is Heating Up By Meg Baker, @Bakerme

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Signs Historic Legislation Encouraging Special Olympics Unified Sports Programming in all School Districts

I hope that other states will follow in this example that New Jersey has set forth before them.  I am all for more inclusion in physical education activities in schools and town/district teams!  Less being “picked last” and more equality and encouragement for all skill levels.  Let’s give a cheer for Unified Sports!

Oh, remember my Wheaties article?  Wheaties Honors Special Olympics Athletes With Cereal Box Cover – My9 New Jersey has a video with more on that story.

Check out the Facebook Feed for #2014USAGames.

To all my friends who have participated in the Special Olympics Summer Games 2014, your success does not go unnoticed.  I am so excited for you and am proud to stand beside you as your friend, supporter, and fellow athlete.

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Photos are from 2014 Special Olympics USA Games photostream on Flickr.

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