On Friday, June 29, the CenturyLink Field – North Plaza will host the inaugural ESPN | Special Olympics Unified Sports Challenge – Community Division. The event will bring together local teams of four co-workers, friends or family members who will team with a Special Olympics athlete and a law enforcement officer or fire department personnel to create a Unified Sports team, demonstrate the impact of inclusion and raise money for Special Olympics.
Teams will score points as they rotate through fun Unified activity stations, including hot shot basketball, soccer dart board, mini golf, bocce, giant memory game, bucket pong and a giant Jenga game. The top teams will advance to the event finals. Teams and competitors will also earn spot prizes at specific activities (prize for hole-in-one, bulls eye, etc.) and awards for teams showing the most spirit, sportsmanship and more.
Each Unified Challenge team has been encouraged to raise money ahead of the event, with all proceeds benefiting the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. The funding will help cover the costs (lodging, food, transportation, etc.) for athletes attending the games.
Coca-Cola, Bank of America, ESPN, Disney, KPMG, Parametrix, Concrete Restoration Inc. and Saldana Group LLC are just a few of the teams registered to participate in the challenge. Sign-ups for the Community Division will continue through the morning of June 29. Local organizations interested in taking part in the competition can sign up on the UNDERDOG Sports Leagues web site.
ESPN and Special Olympics USA Games will also stage the first-ever ESPN | Special Olympics Unified Sports Challenge – Executive Division on Sunday, July 1, featuring executives and their employees, celebrities and Special Olympics athletes competing in multiple Unified Sports challenges.
Both the community and executive challenges will precede the start of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Seattle event competitions, which ESPN, as the official broadcaster, will provide daily coverage July 1-6.
ESPN and Special Olympics
ESPN is proud of its relationship with Special Olympics, which spans more than 32 years. Over the past four years, ESPN has continued to deepen its relationship with the Special Olympics movement and in addition to being the Official Broadcaster for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle. It will also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics in the year ahead in addition to being the Official Media Partner of the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, hosted in Abu Dhabi.
In 2016, 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.
ESPN grants support 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 previously served as the Official Broadcaster of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria and 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.
ESPN employees have been engaged in volunteerism with Special Olympics for over 32 years. Over 500 ESPN and Disney employees will be volunteering at the USA Games in Seattle.
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.