FORT WALTON BEACH — Two Okaloosa athletes will compete in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington, according to Special Olympics Florida – Okaloosa County.
When over 4,000 Special Olympics athletes and coaches gather July 1-6, 2018 in Seattle, Jacob Luttrell of Shalimar and Harrison Mauldin of Crestview will be among the Team Florida athletes on the field. Luttrell is a golfer, and Mauldin will compete in athletics and 10K categories.
Special Olympics participants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will compete before tens of thousands of spectators and volunteers.
The USA Games will showcase the limitless talents of people with intellectual disabilities while promoting the barrier-breaking power of sport to promote inclusion and acceptance, according to an event media release.
Pamela Sparks, Okaloosa County Special Olympics director, said, “I couldn’t be more proud of all of our athletes in Okaloosa County, but these two athletes have exceeded my expectations. Athlete Jacob Luttrell came within six feet (of) winning a Buick in our Hole-in-One Contest sponsored by Sam Taylor Buick Cadillac at our SOFL – Okaloosa County Cinco De Mayo Golf Scramble.
"Athlete Harrison Mauldin was the first Special Olympics Florida athlete to compete in a 10K! Mauldin also was the first athlete to compete in both the 5K and 10K at ESPN Wide World of Sports at State Games," Sparks said.
The kick off on July 1 offers 14 Olympic-type sports: athletics (track and field), basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, soccer, softball, stand up paddle boarding, swimming, tennis and volleyball.
"SOFL is very grateful for Publix, our premier sponsor of Special Olympics Florida. Okaloosa County would also like to thank All Sports Association. Their contribution allows us to offer a multitude of sports to our Okaloosa County athletes," Sparks said.
"It was very inspiring to see the segment of Special Olympics on the ESPYS last week, we are very humbled to be a part of Special Olympics and very happy to see the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage given to Tim Shriver on behalf of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Get involved. Be a fan, be a volunteer, be a coach, be a sponsor!” Sparks said.
More about the state Special Olympics
SOFL provides year-round sports training, competition, and health services to children and adults with intellectual disabilities, at no cost to the athletes or their caregivers, as a means to achieve physical fitness, self-esteem, socialization skills, and the life skills necessary to be productive, respected, and contributing members of their communities.
Go to www.specialolympicsflorida.org to learn more.