Special Olympics Delaware is sending a 43-member delegation to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.
The USA Games happen every four years, but was sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
Special Olympics Delaware media relations director Jon Buzby says the event is now ready to return.
“We’ve been fortunate that an event this large can still happen in 2022 down in Orlando (Fla.)," said Buzby. "And Team USA, being a part of that, really is the pinnacle for many of our athletes. It’s an opportunity for them to leave the State of Delaware and compete against the best athletes within their ability levels throughout the country.”
Buzby says it’s a special opportunity for these athletes selected from more than 4,000 (4,200) that compete locally.
“It’s going to be just an unbelievable experience for them," Buzby said. "It’s anticipated that there’s going to be more than 5,500 athletes who will be there and coaches from all 50 states and the Caribbean. 10,000 volunteers will also make it a great experience for them. 19 Olympic-type sports are going to be offered and our athletes are going to participate in seven of those.”
Buzby notes that Delaware will send 28 athletes, nine coaches and four staff members to Florida next June. The event runs June 5, 2022 through June 12, 2022 - largely at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World Resort.
He adds that Special Olympics Delaware staff notified each athlete going in person this week, noting most couldn’t believe it and some cried when they learned they’re heading to Disney World.
He says First State athletes were chosen based on their performances at the most recent state-level competitions and will compete in seven of the 19 Olympic-type sports, including, basketball, bocce and powerlifting.
Buzby says the ages of the Delaware athletes competing range from 18 to early 60’s.
Meet the members of Team Delaware who will take part in the USA Games:
Head of Delegation: Kylie Frazer, SODE Director of Sports (Bear)
Asst. Head of Delegation: Cheryl Talmo, SODE Director of Sports Training and Health (Newark)
Team Fitness Coordinator: Rob Bailey, SODE Sussex Area Director (Millsboro)
Basketball: Jesse Benson (Dover), Malik Bradford (Wilmington), Eric Bruce (Wilmington), Jayquan Butcher (Dover), Timothy Jones (Wilmington), Jeffrey Marconi (Hockessin), David McElrath (Wilmington), Anthony Thomas (Wilmington), Elerece Thomas (Dover), Jerome Watson (Seaford); Head Coach Kevin Koerner (Townsend), Assistant Coach Ed Capodanno (Wilmington), Assistant Coach Scott Tamblyn (Newark).
Bocce: Nicole Baker (Newark), Rory DiLouie (Lewes), Charles Permint (Milford), Kimberly Strunk (Milford); Head Coach Pamela Cannon (Harrington).
Bowling: Allen Burke (Millsboro), Matthew Montgomery (Wilmington), Michele Ogden (Bear), Devin Wineland (Milton); Head Coach Rose Dagg (Newark).
Powerlifting: Sterling Johnson (Newark); Head Coach Terry Lemper (Townsend).
Swimming: Christine Arancio (Ocean View), Austin Archer (Wilmington), Kristen Hanifee (Millsboro), Brian Perry (Frederica); Head Coach Diana Behrens (Newark).
Tennis: Katya Bowers (Millville), Carl Williams (Newark); Head Coach Jill Wallace (Wilmington).
Track & Field: Jillian Mathews (Felton), Deshawn Scye (Laurel), Christi Theron (Wilmington), Steven Turner (Newark); Head Coach Kylie Lavelle (Wilmington).
Youth Leadership Experience: Ammar McNair (Camden-Wyoming), Alex Failing (Dover); Nate Threatts, mentor, SODE Manager of Unified Champion Schools (Dover).