WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Special Olympics announced today that Joe Haden, a first-round draft pick and star cornerback with the Cleveland Browns, is joining the Special Olympics family as the movement's newest Global Ambassador and only professional American football player to ever hold the Global Ambassador title. Haden will support Special Olympics leading up to this year's Big Game in Glendale, Arizona, by promoting acceptance, inclusion and respect for individuals with intellectual disabilities. He will also promote participation in Special Olympics Unified Sports®, and serve as a co-captain on the just announced Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America that will kick off on May 25th.
"I am honored and proud to raise awareness for the Special Olympics movement as a Global Ambassador during one of the largest sporting events in the world," said Joe Haden. "Growing up, my brother had the opportunity to participate in the Special Olympics movement and through my involvement, I learned first-hand the tremendous value of playing sports with, and learning from, people with intellectual disabilities. It's a cause I'm truly passionate about."
Haden will be joined in Phoenix by Vanessa Robles, a Special Olympics athlete who will be competing for Team USA in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles this July. Together, they will share their personal experiences with Special Olympics Unified Sports® and educate fans and media on the benefits of today's youth without intellectual disabilities playing, learning, and growing alongside those with intellectual disabilities.
"We are excited to welcome Joe Haden to our Special Olympics family. Through his brother Jacob, Joe has seen and experienced firsthand how sports can build fitness, confidence and skills among Special Olympics athletes and how sports can break down barriers and build respect and inclusion in the community," said Peter Wheeler, Chief of Strategic Properties, Special Olympics. "Joe has become a staunch advocate of and believer in the transformative power of Unified Sports. We are thrilled that he will be joining us in such a visible way as a Global Ambassador to promote our year-round efforts to build a unified generation through sports."
Joe Haden joins a prestigious list of Global Ambassadors including Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco, Nadia Comaneci, Elena Delle Donne, Scott Hamilton, Padraig Harrington, Yuna Kim, Yang Lan, Damian Lillard, Yao Ming, Ricardo Montaner, Dikembe Mutombo, Hidetoshi Nakata, Apolo Anton Ohno, Michael Phelps, Hannah Teter, Vanessa Williams, Hidetoshi Nakata and Yang Yang.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 4.4 million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than 1.3 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 81,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics®, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Lions Clubs International, Mattel, Microsoft, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, The Safeway Foundation, and Safilo Group. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, instagram.com/specialolymics and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.
About the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015
With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games - being staged in Los Angeles July 25 - August 2, 2015 - will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games, with the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony, to be held July 25, 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators. For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.LA2015.org and on social with #ReachUpLA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
SOURCE Special Olympics