Delle Donne Named Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Elena Delle Donne will support Special Olympics’ efforts in promoting acceptance, inclusion, respect, and dignity for people with intellectual disabilities.

“I’m so proud to serve as a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics given their mission is so important to me,” said Elena Delle Donne. “My sister Lizzie has an intellectual disability and I’ve always loved working with Special Olympics and being able to get on the court and see young people with and without intellectual disabilities passing the ball and playing together.” As part of her role as an Ambassador, Elena will invite Special Olympics athletes to join her at her De11e Donne Skills Academy and will work to promote basketball development within Special Olympics, particularly among girls and promote social inclusion through Unified Sports®. Additionally, she will participate in upcoming NBA All-Star Game activities and take part in key initiatives for Special Olympics including Spread the Word to End the Word Day® on March 5th and the Motor Activities Program (MATP), which her sister has been an active participant. MATP is a specialized training for athletes in skills that may lead to participation in a traditional Special Olympics event.

Elena Delle Done joins a prestigious list of Global Ambassadors including Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco, Nadia Comaneci, Scott Hamilton, Padraig Harrington, Yuna Kim, Yang Lan, Yang Yang, Yao Ming, Ricardo Montaner, Dikembe Mutombo, Hannah Teter, Apolo Anton Ohno, Michael Phelps, Vanessa Williams and Zhang Ziyi.

Today at Homewood-Flossmoor Community Highschool in Flossmoor, Illinois, Elena will join an assembly with hundreds of students from Flossmoor to talk about the importance of activating youth to promote inclusion in schools via Unified Sports® such as basketball. Unified Sports pairs players with an intellectual disability with players without intellectual disabilities to play together. Students from the school as well as from schools around the world will welcome Elena in real time and send tweets to her at #WelcomeElena and #TeamElena to ask her questions about her role as a Global Ambassador and why she became involved with Special Olympics.

Following the assembly, Elena will host a unified basketball clinic with Homewood Flossmoor High School’s varsity girls’ basketball team and local Special Olympics’ athletes. Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School is part of Special Olympics Project UNIFY®, an education-based program that uses the sports and education initiatives of Special Olympics to activate youth to promote school communities where all young people are agents of change. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the goal of the program is to foster respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Since 2009, more than 35 U.S. state programs have engaged in the mission of Project UNIFY to engage students and schools in a host of core activities like Unified Sports®.

Special Olympics International board members who have expressed their warmest welcome in a video include: Olympics Gymnastics Gold Medalists Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci and Figure Skating Champion Michelle Kwan and Olympic Short Track Champion Yang Yang and Olympic Basketball Legend Yao Ming. Janet Froetscher, CEO of Special Olympics International, extended her congratulations, “Elena Delle Donne is a great addition to our Special Olympics family. Our goal is to raise awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Through sports, we showcase the skills and dignity of our athletes. Elena is a powerful force that will help us deliver this mission around the world. Not only is she a highly skilled athlete, but her passion for our organization shines and I know she will help us reach many of the millions of more athletes we hope to reach.”

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than four million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now take place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard to World Games. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com

Video: The Special Olympics Welcomes Elena Delle Donne