WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The world's largest sports and humanitarian event this year – the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria – today announced two very special performances for the event's Opening Ceremony on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Performers include multi-Grammy award-winning folk-pop songsmith Jason Mraz and 13-year old winner of America's Got Talent Grace VanderWaal.
Nearly 2,700 athletes and 1,000 coaches representing 107 nations will be welcomed at the Opening Ceremony, held at the Planai Stadium in Schladming, a regular stop on the World Cup circuit and site of the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
To honor the athletes, Jason Mraz will be planning a special performance which will be a powerful unification of Special Olympics youth/athletes and the groundbreaking new music and arts education program that is supported by the Jason Mraz Foundation, called LIVE ART. Children from a local Schladming music program will also participate in the performance. Mraz will perform his record-setting song, "I'm Yours," as well as his hit song "I Won't Give Up" – which he will perform alongside VanderWaal, LIVE ART participants and the local Schladming choir. "I'm incredibly honored to be asked to perform during the Opening Ceremony, celebrating the courage, determination and spirit of every Special Olympics athlete who traveled to compete in these Games," said Jason Mraz. "Special Olympics is an organization that I feel embraces the skills and talents of every person and I do the same thing through my work with LIVE ART."
LIVE ART is an equally inclusive program for both students with and without disabilities, of all ages, who work together for a year using performing arts to share messages of acceptance, compassion and empathy. Mraz works as an artistic advisor and funder alongside LIVE ART Director Erin Thomas-Foley, creating an inspiring culminating performance each year featuring nationally recognized recording artists performing with the students. The program is produced by SPARC, The School of the Performing Arts in Richmond, Virginia where Jason studied as a child. www.sparconline.org/liveart
Princess Charlene of Monaco, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and Olympic Gold Medalist Hannah Teter, American short track speed skating Olympic champion Apolo Ohno, Hall of Famer and Special Olympics Global Ambassador and Board Member Dikembe Mutombo, Olympic figure-skating legend and Special Olympics International Board Member Michelle Kwan and NBA Legend and Special Olympics
International Board Member Sam Perkins, and other distinguished personalities will cheer on the athletes at the Planai. A global audience can watch coverage provided by ESPN, an official broadcast partner of the World Games. ESPN is distributing the Opening Ceremony around the world in multiple languages. Tickets to the Opening Ceremony and this once-in-a-lifetime experience are available for purchase via www.oeticket.com.
More than 20,000 fans including families, volunteers, Heads of State, Ministers of Sport, and celebrities including trainer and television personality Jillian Michaels and ballroom dance champion, professional dancer and choreographer Louie Van Amstel will attend the Games and cheer on the athletes over the eight days of competition.
"The whole world will come to Austria and will celebrate a big sports and social event with us. We look forward to welcoming all athletes and coaches and guests in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau," said Marc Angelini and Max Pichler, the two CEOs from Austria2017. More than four years preparation are nearly over and the Organizing Committee is ready for the Games. Angelini and Pichler added, "We hope that it's going to be an unforgettable event for everybody!"
Specific details of the night's event, which will include the Parade of Athletes and culmination of the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® that will light the World Games cauldron, are being kept under wraps until closer to the event.
The World Games will be hosted from 14 March-25 March and feature 9 Olympic-style sports: Floorball, Floor Hockey, Stick Shooting, Figure Skating, Short Track Speed Skating, Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing. These Games will showcase the unlimited potential of people with intellectual disabilities – the largest disability population in the world. Competitions will take place in the cities of Graz, Schladming, Rohrmoos and Ramsau. All competitions are free and open to the public. Plan your outing to support the athletes by checking out the competition schedule here: Austria 2017 Games Schedule.
The Opening Ceremony will take place at the Planai Stadium in Schladming, Austria on Saturday, March 18, 2017 starting at 2:00 p.m. EST/7:00 p.m. local Austrian time and will be brought to a worldwide audience by ESPN and local Austrian broadcast partner ORF. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit www.oeticket.com. Please visit www.austria2017.org for additional updates to Opening Ceremony performances.
Earlier this week, Special Olympics announced the first-ever social fundraising collaboration with GoFundMe. As part of the effort, nearly 500 GoFundMes are being created by teams, coaches, as well as by Olympians, top professional athletes, YouTube stars and other influencers to support athletes attending the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria next month. To donate and learn more about the athlete stories, and view all Special Olympic GoFundMes, visit: gofundme.com/specialolympics
About Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017
Every two years, Special Olympics holds its flagship event, the World Games, demonstrating sports excellence, which promotes equality, respect and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities around the world. Transcending the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion, the world will come together to celebrate inclusion around the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Graz, Schladming, Rohrmoos and Ramsau, Austria 14 March – 25 March 2017. Nearly 2,700 athletes and 1,000 coaches representing 107 countries, along with 10,000 volunteers and thousands more spectators, will participate in and watch exciting sports and community events. This is the second time Austria has hosted the World Winter Games, having also staged the event in 1993. Sports featured are Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Floor Hockey, Floorball, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, and Stick Shooting. Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017 sponsors include: Energie Netze, Audi, Special Olympics Founding Partner Coca-Cola, Uniqa and Official Technology Partner Microsoft. For more information on the 2017 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer, sponsorship opportunities and the complete list of sponsors, visit www.austria2017.org and on social on Facebook, and Twitter.
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 5.3 million athletes and Unified partners in 169 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 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, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Toys"R"Us, Mattel, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line and Safilo Group. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics, fb.com/specialolympics, youtube.com/specialolympicshq, instagram.com/specialolympics and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.
About Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz has quietly amassed a youthful, diverse, and vibrant fan-base throughout all parts of the globe. Since getting his start in coffeehouses in his adopted city of San Diego, Mraz has brought his positive message and soulful, folk-pop sound to rapt audiences around the world through his recordings, vibrant live performances, and philanthropic efforts. Along the way, he has earned diamond, multi-platinum or platinum certifications in numerous territories for his various releases, made pop history with his record-breaking classic single, "I'm Yours" and "I Won't Give Up", racked up 2 Grammy Awards among 6 nominations, won a prestigious Hal David Songwriter Hall of Fame Award, won Teen Choice and People's Choice awards, sold out amphitheaters and arenas across the globe, including sell-outs at such iconic venues as The Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden, and London's O2 Arena. Mraz is first and foremost a committed global citizen. His impassioned social activism and philanthropic efforts span wide-ranging environmental advocacy and ardent support for LGBT equality.
About Grace VanderWaal
Thirteen-year-old America's Got Talent winner Grace VanderWaal captured the hearts of America with her unique singer-songwriter talent, performing all original music during the AGT competition using her signature ukulele. Grace's AGT audition clip featuring her song "I Don't Know My Name" went viral and is approaching 200 million views, with rockstar Stevie Nicks commenting, "She reminds me a lot of me in a lot of ways...Whatever happens, Grace is going to the top." The young breakout star has received celebrity praise from the likes of Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher, Jason Mraz, Katy Perry, Reese Witherspoon, Shawn Mendes and Taylor Swift. Signed to Columbia Records and Syco Music, Grace released her debut EP Perfectly Imperfect on December 2, and it debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart.
SOURCE Special Olympics