Several Special Olympics and World Wrestling Entertainment athletes came together Friday to compete in a basketball game at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.
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Southern California Special Olympics athletes with ages ranging from late teens to early thirties played in the game, hosted by WWE wrestlers Mark Henry and Alicia Fox.
“Special Olympics is the worlds largest sports organization and it changes peoples lives with intellectual disabilities through the simple power of sports,” said Bill Shumard, chief executive officer of Special Olympics Southern California. “Not only are athletes great competitors to whatever level that they can compete, they’re great sports fans. The eat up watching sports.”
Special Olympics athletes participated in a shooting contest against WWE wrestlers during halftime portion of the event.
“(My favorite part of the event is) to see the joy in our athletes and the WWE performers have a chance to interact with our athletes,” Shumard said. “Sports stars are their heroes and I’m amazed at the way they respond to the WWE. To have (WWE) here in our neighborhood and being able to interact with our athletes is an incredible treat.”
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Henry and Fox also spent time with the athletes after the basketball game to sign autographs and take pictures.
“As WWE Chief Brand Officer, honest this is the most important part of my job — giving back to the community and see the smiles on these kids faces is the most rewarding part of my job,” said WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon. “The hugs that you get, the looks in their eyes. I’m a mom of three daughters and it’s just an unbelievable thing to be part of these community service activities and to give back to these kids.”
More Special Olympics events are expected in the Santa Clarita Valley the near future, including the 2015 Special Olympics World Games that are set to be hosted by the city of Santa Clarita.
“To see the passion and all of the sportsmanship and all of the effort kids put into participating. It’s inspiring, you can help but to smile,” McMahon said. “Being a part of this atmosphere, it’s inspiring. It’s wonderful. They make us smile everyday.”
Photos courtesy of Joseph Quinn.
Source: Santa Clarita News