2018 Special Olympics USA Games Adds Star Power to Opening Ceremony in Seattle

Top Stars from “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “So You Think You Can Dance” to Perform

 Seahawks’ Shaquem Griffin and Special Olympics Athlete Tim Corrigan to Serve as Co-Grand Marshals for the Parade of Athletes

SEATTLEJune 25, 2018 – The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games has added several prominent celebrities to its Opening Ceremony which will take place at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium on Sunday, July 1. More than 4,000 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from across the nation, along with tens of thousands of family members, volunteers and spectators, will gather across Greater Seattle for a week of events and competitions in 14 team and individual sports.

New Opening Ceremony performers announced today include:

  • Maddie Poppe, the 20-year-old winner of the most-recent “American Idol” competition.
  • Kyla Jade, a finalist in the most-recent season of “The Voice.” Jade is also a prominent gospel and rhythm and blues singer who provides background vocals for Jennifer Hudson.
  • The Groovaloos, an award-winning hip-hop and street dance troupe that has performed on “So You Think You Can Dance,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

These performers join previously announced Opening Ceremony entertainment including:  Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Charlie Puth; world-renowned DJ and producer Marshmello; Seattle native and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Ann Wilson of Heart;  singer-songwriter Allen Stone; and actor, singer and author Taye Diggs who will serve as master of ceremonies. 

Leading the Parade of Athletes will be co-Grand Marshals Shaquem Griffin, the Seattle Seahawks’ talented and inspiring rookie linebacker and Tim Corrigan, a 75-year-old Special Olympics athlete who lit the torch and competed at the first Special Olympics games in 1968 in Chicago. This year, marks the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics movement.

“We’re really excited to add these talented performers to an already impressive lineup,” said Jayme Powers, Executive Producer and COO for the Special Olympics USA Games.  “The Opening Ceremony will provide a powerful way to kick-off the USA Games by creating a once-in-a-lifetime entertainment experience for all of our athletes, volunteers and spectators.”

Dignitaries scheduled to speak at the Opening Ceremony include: Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft President and Honorary Chairman of the 2018 USA Games, Brad Smith; and Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International.

ESPN, the official media partner of the 2018 USA Games, will telecast the Opening Ceremony live on ABC beginning at 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET. ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi will serve as host.

For more information on the 2018 USA Games and to purchase tickets for the Opening Ceremony, visit SpecialOlympicsUSAGames.org.

Microsoft is the Presenting Partner of the Opening Ceremony and the Premier Partner of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.

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 participants representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 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 SpecialOlympicsUSAGames.org and follow on Facebook (@SpecialOlympicsUSAGames), Twitter (@2018USAGames) and Instagram (@SpecialOlympicsUSAGames).

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Media Contact

Jaymelina Esmele, 2018 Special Olympics USA Games


(206) 788-8964