Seattle Embraces 2018 Special Olympics USA Games with Joyous Opening Ceremony Celebrating 50 Years of Inclusion Through Sports

More than 39,000 Attend Special Olympics Opening Ceremony Broadcast to the World

SEATTLEJuly 1, 2018 – Celebrating inclusion, acceptance, and athletic abilities, more than 39,000 fans welcomed 4,000 athletes and coaches to the Emerald City – Seattle. The event kicks off a week-long competition featuring 14 sports, the Healthy Athletes program, and other non-competitive events for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.

“We’re here to take a stand for a different America, because we see a different America. We believe in a different America, and we’re determined to create a different America,” said Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics International, adding “It’s an America that we can already say that without fear or favor, I choose to include.”

The University of Washington’s Husky Stadium provided an electric setting to launch a year-long commemoration of the first Special Olympics competition that took place in Chicago in 1968.

“The state of Washington has a proud history of inclusivity, tolerance and compassion,” said Washington state Governor Jay Inslee. “Our diversity of people and cultures is a critical part of who we are, both as a state and a nation. I believe all these things, now more than ever.”

The Opening Ceremony was broadcast live by ESPN on ABC and included several high-profile celebrities and dignitaries including: ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi, actor and singer Taye Diggs, co-Grand Marshal and Seattle Seahawk Shaquem Griffin and co-Grand Marshal and Special Olympics athlete Tim Corrigan.

The event also included appearances by world renowned DJ Marshmello; “American Idol” winner Maddie Poppe; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; WWE stars Mark Henry and Charlotte Flair; WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon; singer and finalist on “The Voice” Kyla Jade, Special Olympics International’s Global Inspiration Officer Loretta Claiborne, Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver, Microsoft President and 2018 USA Game Honorary Chairman Brad Smith; singer-songwriter Allen Stone; Olympics champion Apolo Ohno; and singer-songwriter Charlie Puth.

About the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be held in Seattle, Washington July 1-6, 2018. More than 4,000 athletes and coaches, along with the support of tens of thousands of volunteers and spectators, will compete in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports. The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will celebrate the Special Olympics movement and its 50th anniversary; promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport; and showcase athletes from throughout the U.S. and the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. The 2018 USA Games will also highlight Special Olympics’ work in sport, education, health and community-building.

For more information on the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, please visit and follow on Facebook (@SpecialOlympicsUSAGames), Twitter (@2018USAGames) and Instagram (@SpecialOlympicsUSAGames).

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