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Closing ceremonies

July 28, 2010

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Fefe Dobson gets athletes, coaches, officials and fans on their feet at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games closing ceremonies.

Photo by: Kaitlyn Burke, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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David Steffan performs and gets spectators moving at the closing ceremonies.

Photo by: Kaitlyn Burke, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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The Oregon soccer team watches the flag being lowered as the USA National Games come to an end.

Photo by: Kaitlyn Burke, University of Nebraska- Lincoln

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First Lady of Nebraska, Sally Ganem, addresses the crowd along with members of Project UNIFY.

Photo by: Kaitlyn Burke, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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LaShell Griffin performs as the crowd dances with red glow sticks.

Photo by: Kaitlyn Burke, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



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Combined Spirit

July 24, 2010

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Thirty-six rhythmic gymnasts paired with 36 area gymnasts for a final performance at Pershing Auditorium. The performance was a part of 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games Sport Experience demonstration.

Video: Marlenia Thornton, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



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Unified teams making unified friends

July 23, 2010

Arizona vs. Illinois

With the addition of flag football to the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games, Payton LaCivita took the opportunity to volunteer his time and talent by joining the Arizona unified flag football team.

As a “unified partner,” LaCivita, a college student at Arizona State, is just as much as part of the team as his teammates with intellectual disabilities.

LaCivita said, “Three years ago my high school coach asked me to come and help out with these guys. I volunteered then, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

The unified sports program started with an idea called “Project UNIFY.” According to the Special Olympics website, Project UNIFY’s goal is to “activate young people to develop strong communities where all young people are agents of change-fostering respect, dignity, and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities by utilizing programs and initiatives of Special Olympics.”

The program creates special bonds among teammates. For example, Marc Whatley, a 30-year old athlete from Tucson, Ariz., has found a friend in LaCivita. Both are athletes. Both love football. Both had smiles when they talked about their win. It’s their similarities that matter, not their differences.

Krista McDonald, Emily German – University of Nebraska, Lincoln, CoJMC



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‘We are Rhode Island’

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Video: Brandon Frakes, Marcus Scheer, Chelsey Wahlstrom (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Rhode Island Unified Soccer Team is from the smallest city in the smallest state and is taking Lincoln by storm. The team from Central Falls, R.I. is tied for the first seed in its division and has its eyes set on the gold. As the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games wrap-up, Rhode Island hopes to make its state proud in Friday’s finals.



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Arizona Unified teammates plot their moves

Arizona Players

Jorin Larsen and Kevin Griffen strategize during their unified flag football game.
Photo by Emily German-University of Nebraska-Lincoln



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Unified teams create strong bonds

July 22, 2010

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Members of the Texas Unified Volleyball Team are ready to hit the court on Thursday, July 22.

Story and Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Terri Eck is one of the biggest volleyball fan in the stands at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.

Her husband, Bo, is the assistant coach. Her son, Adam, is the newest addition to the Texas Unified Volleyball Team. They’ve traveled from Allen, Texas to compete in the National Games.

To trace the many connections within the team is next to impossible.

Three of the partners are special education teachers.

There’s a father-son duo on the court.

Head coach, Sandra Boggs, is a former special education teacher.

Partner Tom Jaconet works with an athlete’s parent.

Not only is partner Lisa Grantham a special education teacher, she has taught all of the athletes in the classroom. She is also the head of delegation for Allen Special Olympics. Her son, Brantley, is also a partner.

The Unified Texas team is extraordinary. It is not just a group of athletes playing with a group of partners. These teammates mesh. They connect in a way on a court that makes you think they had been playing together since they were young.

This Unified team practices together every Wednesday throughout the year. And leading up to the national tournament, they practiced even more. They compete against other local teams in their hometown recreational league.

Adam Eck, the newest member of the team, is autistic.

In 2006 Special Olympics USA National Games, held in Ames, Iowa, Adam competed in the swimming competition. But volleyball is Adam’s latest adventure; he joined the team six months ago.

According to Terri Eck, unified play allows athletes to excel in many different levels in their lives. The experience strengthens their volleyball skills, confidence levels and personalities.

Terri was an X-ray technician, but she became inspired to become a special education teacher. She has also taught general education and now teaches English as a second language.

According to Eck the members of the Texas Unified Team have become like a family. They grow together. They change. To watch the athletes be successful on and off the court is nothing less than amazing.

Terri Eck says, “It’s not a disability. It’s a different ability.”

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Athlete Jared Williamson, #9, extends a high five to teammate Paul Landry, #10.

Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Brantley Grantham, #1, goes up for the hit while teammate Ryan Landry, #5, helps out.

Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



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Partners invaluable to Special Olympic athletes

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Story: Kaitlin Arntz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



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Brothers play for Nebraska unified soccer team

July 20, 2010

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Video: Marcus Scheer (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Teammates and brothers, Marcos and Humberto Tapia, play for fun and for each other on the Nebraska unified soccer team.



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Soccer kicks off

July 19, 2010

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The unified soccer division began Monday morning with a match between North Dakota and Arizona at the Ethel S. Abbott Sports Complex on July 19, 2010. Every soccer team will be evaluated during the first day’s games to determine the level of play and schedule.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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A North Dakota soccer player waits to kick the ball while warming up before the first game.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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A referee checks the cleats of the Arizona unified soccer team before the match against North Dakota.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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Members of the Florida unified soccer team take a break before their game against Oregon.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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U.S. Department of Education helps launch 2010 USA National games

July 15, 2010

U.S. Department of Education
Office of Communications & Outreach, Press Office
400 Maryland Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202

MEDIA ADVISORY
EVENT DATE: Sunday, July 18, 2010
Contact: Jim Bradshaw
(202) 401-2310 or jim.bradshaw@ed.gov

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNY TO PARTICIPATE IN SPECIAL OLYMPICS ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION, HELPING LAUNCH USA GAMES

Assistant Secretary Alexa Posny will participate in the 2010 National Project UNIFY Education Leadership Roundtable Sunday at the Nebraska Governor’s Mansion in Lincoln. The two-hour discussion, co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, will help launch the Special Olympics USA National Games Week.

Posny, who heads the Education Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, will join others in discussing issues related to Special Olympics, Project UNIFY and society at large.

Project UNIFY, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education, strives to foster respect for people with intellectual disabilities by utilizing the programs and initiatives of Special Olympics.

WHO:
Alexa Posny, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

WHAT:
Participates in the 2010 National Project UNIFY Education Leadership Roundtable

WHERE:
Nebraska Governor’s Mansion, 1425 H St., Lincoln, Neb.

WHEN:
11:30 a.m. Sunday, July 18, 2010



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