Seminole Leaders Encourage Special Olympics Athletes – Orlando Sentinel

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Seminole commissioners on Tuesday honored the scores of local athletes who will compete in next month’s Special Olympics U.S. Games at sports venues in Orange, Osceola and Lake counties.

“On behalf of Seminole County, I want to wish you well and good luck,” commission chairman Bob Dallari told a dozen Special Olympics athletes who attended the meeting. “Thank you for representing all of Seminole County.”

The commissioners watched a short video about Special Olympics, then stood for group photos with the athletes, who will compete in horseback riding, tennis, volleyball, triathlon and cheerleading.

“Thank you very much, Seminole County,” said Abigail Adams, who will be competing in the triathlon event.

More than 5,500 athletes — as well as 125,000 visitors — from across the United States and the Caribbean are expected to visit central Florida June 5-12 to compete in the games, said Seminole sports tourism director Danny Trosset. .

“Seminole County has always had a very strong Special Olympics program,” Trossett said. “We have over 1,000 Special Olympics athletes, participants and volunteers right here in Seminole County.”

The USA Games Opening Ceremony will take place at Exploria Stadium in Orlando. Other events will take place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Kissimmee; Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, in Lake Buena Vista; Rosen Aquatic Center, Orlando; Orange County National Golf Facility, Winter Garden; Silver Spurs Arena, in Kissimmee; and the Lake Minneola Waterfront Park, in Clermont.

County officials said the Special Olympics organization wants the events to be as close to southern Orange County and Walt Disney properties as possible, rather than Seminole, to make it more convenient and easier to transportation of athletes and their families.

Representatives for Special Olympics did not respond to calls for comment.

Trosset said Seminole has hosted Special Olympics events in the past and “has always been a strong supporter” of the organization.

In 2016, Seminole spent $28 million to build the Boombah Sports Complex off East Lake Mary Boulevard, just east of Sanford Airport, to attract big-name tournaments and visitors. Since then, it has hosted nearly 300 events and brought over 600,000 visitors to the county.

“The county would have taken the opportunity to provide venues for the US Games if requested or needed,” said Seminole spokesperson Ashley Moore.

She noted that Seminole was scheduled to host a Special Olympics softball event Oct. 8 at the county’s sports complex.

Commissioner Lee Constantine urged the Seminole athletes at the meeting.

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“Come on team; bring back gold medals,” he said.

In other county action Tuesday: Commissioners agreed to interview the four finalists applying for the county executive position early next month.

Seminole has been looking for a new director since last December, when Nicole Guillet resigned to take the position of executive vice president of business development, real estate and legal affairs at Orlando Sanford International Airport.

The four candidates are: Doc Dougherty, county manager in Garden City, Michigan; Camden, Georgia County Executive Steve Howard; Lawrence McNaul, County Executive of Hardee County; and Terry Suggs, Putnam County Administrator.

On June 8 and 9, County Commissioners and Chief Personnel Officers will be able to meet and interview candidates individually.

On June 10, the commissioners will interview the candidates together at a public meeting. Thereafter, the public will have time to comment on the candidates.

mcomas@orlandosentinel.com


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