Monday, October 9, 2017

South Florida Honored Special Olympics Participants At The 2017 “Athlete Awards” Gala On September 23rd.

Two Grammy Award Winning Artists Performed at the Special Olympics of Miami-Dade County's 5th Annual Athlete Awards Presented by Mass Mutual Miami

With 500 elite guests celebrating Eunice Kennedy Shriver's legacy, this year's 5th Annual Special Olympics Athlete Awards Gala was cohosted by Emmy Award-Winning ABC News Anchor Laurie Jennings and ABC Sports Director Will Manso on Saturday September 23, 2017.  The evening began with a surprise performance by eight-time GRAMMY™ AWARD WINNER STEPHEN MARLEY and a finale performance by GRAMMY™ AWARD WINNING POP/R&B ARTIST JODY WATLEY.  2017 Athlete Awards Platinum Sponsor RSM provided a generous dollar for dollar match on all donations raised the evening of the event.  A fun and feel good evening, the event was a huge success bringing in nearly $300,000 to Special Olympics Miami Dade.

Grammy Award Winning Singer Jody Watley

Event Chair Angela Birdman shared, "The 2017 Special Olympics Athlete Awards far surpassed my expectations.  With the overwhelming support of our donors, sponsors, and the community, we were able to exceed last year's numbers by $100,000 and raised enough to ensure all 34 Miami Dade athletes who qualified will be able to travel to Nationals in Seattle to compete.  I am eternally grateful for everyone's support."

8 Time Grammy Winner Stephen Marley & Bugga Perform

The 2017 Athlete Awards provided an opportunity for Special Olympics Florida to recognize their most incredible athletes, coaches, volunteers and community partners in Miami-Dade County, while raising awareness and funds for their county program that serves over 6,500 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. 

Eric Sanders-PR, & ABC Local 10's Laurie Jennings, Will Manso

Awards presenters for the evening included Olympic gymnasts ALICIA QUINN (SACRAMONE) AND BRIDGET SLOAN, Florida Marlins president DAVID SAMSON, and NFL player LAURENT ROBINSON.  VIP Special Guests included Olympic sailor MAGNUS LILJEDAHL, NBA player MARK STRICKLAND and actor producer VINCENT DE PAUL.

Linsey Harris Smith & Special Olympics Athletes Award Winners

Guests of this year's black-tie event enjoyed premium cocktails and wines sponsored by Bacardi and Don Bernardino Wines, Eagle Brands, Fashion Vodka and Prosseco, a three- course gourmet dinner, and live entertainment throughout the evening provided by UM Frost School of Music. Special thanks to Platinum Sponsors: Apure, RSM, Plaza Construction; Gold Sponsors: Kaufman Rossin, Power Design, Inc. and the David L. Singer Memorial Foundation.

Each $350 ticket sponsored one athlete with intellectual disabilities for one year of sports training and competition. To support Special Olympics and sponsor an athlete, go to


Special Olympics Florida 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. To learn more, visit

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