The White House welcomed 20 members of the Special Olympics USA delegation yesterday, including Unified Sports teammates Ken Richter of Newington and Steve Manzone of Bristol, congratulating and recognizing them for their accomplishments at the recently held Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
The group was part of the 315-member team that represented the United States, competing in 18 of the 24 sports offered, including athletics, swimming, and basketball among many others. Special Olympics USA athletes brought home 72 gold, 62 silver and 70 bronze medals, and 97 participation ribbons.
Richter and Manzone competed in bocce, earning gold medals. The event marked the first time a Special Olympics team was invited to the White House after representing their country at a Special Olympics World Games event.
President Donald Trump hosted the visit in the Oval Office, congratulating each attendee for their achievements while they represented the United States at the World Games in Abu Dhabi. Delina Rodrigues, Special Olympics USA powerlifting athlete from Pennsylvania, presented the President with a signed jersey on behalf of the entire delegation. President Trump was joined by his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Michael Pence and his wife, Second Lady Karen Pence as well as His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States.
“These athletes brought grit, hard work and passion to their sport, excelling on a global stage, and demonstrating to the world the power of inclusion and how it changes attitudes,” said Mary Davis, Special Olympics Chief Executive Officer. “What an incredible honor for our athletes to be recognized by the White House, not only for their athletic achievements, but also for demonstrating continued courage, determination, teamwork and inclusion. Their dedication and efforts resulted in a nation and a world inspired; a legacy that will be felt for lifetimes to come.”