Six Special Olympics athletes, one Unified partner and a coach will be among the Central Kentuckians representing Team Kentucky at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, July 1-6, 2018, in Seattle.
In all, there will be 43 athletes and 17 coaches taking part in the USA Games with Team Kentucky. Eight sports — artistic gymnastics, basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, swimming and track and field — are represented by Team Kentucky.
“This is one of the most exciting parts of the cycle for our program and our athletes,” said Special Olympics Kentucky President and CEO Trish Mazzoni. “Not only is competing at the USA Games a tremendous honor for our athletes, but it is an incredible growth experience for them as well. The opportunity to spend a week or more in a new city, surrounded by the energy and excitement of so many fellow athletes is a life-changing experience. So many times we have seen it make amazing changes in the athletes who have been able to attend.”
Ryan Barts, 28, of Georgetown will be competing in track and field. He is making his second trip to the Special Olympics USA Games. Barts won a gold and two silver medals at the 2010 USA Games in Lincoln, Neb.. He went on to compete at the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, where he won a silver medal in the long jump.
Tonya Cornett, 46 of Lexington Cornett, 46, will be making her second trip to a major Special Olympics competition, and first to the USA Games. She has been a Special Olympics athlete for 26 years and has competed in artistic gymnastics for 22 of them. She also competed in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland, where she earned one silver medal in the all-around competition as well as three individual event bronze medals.
Andrew Janoski, 33, of Lexington will compete in swimming. He is making his first trip to the Special Olympics USA Games. A member of the Fintastics swim team in Lexington, Janoski has been a Special Olympics athlete for 12 years, competing in bowling in addition to swimming. He swims butterfly and freestyle.
Megan McCormick, 28, of Lexington will also be swimming. She has been a Special Olympics athlete for 17 years, competing in gymnastics and cheerleading in addition to swimming. McCormick competed in artistic gymnastics at the 2003 World Games in Dublin, Ireland, earning five meals, including a gold and two silvers. She swam at the 2007 World Games in Shanghai, China, claiming a silver and a bronze medal. In Nebraska in 2010, McCormick won silver in the 100-meter butterfly at the USA Games.
Sabrina Schmidt of Lexington is returning to major Special Olympics competition after an 18-year break to once again compete in artistic gymnastics. A Special Olympics athlete for 25 years, Schmidt competed in artistic gymnastics in the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C., where she earned four silver medals and one bronze. .
Aliya White, 12, of Lexington will be the youngest member of Team Kentucky. She has been a Special Olympics athlete for four years, competing in artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and cheerleading.
Wake Mullins, 21, and Dennis Gaines of Lexington will compete in the Unified 18-hole alternate shot golf competition at the USA Games. Mullins has been a Special Olympics athlete for 10 years and has been playing golf for 10.
Gaines, who is Mullins’ stepfather, has been a Unified partner in Special Olympics for nine years. He also serves as a Special Olympics coach, coaching flag football, softball and basketball in the Fayette County Special Olympics program.
Mary Fehrenbach of Lexington will serve as the head artistic gymnastics coach for Team Kentucky. Fehrenbach, the 2011 Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year, has been the Team Kentucky coach at each of the previous USA Games and her teams have won a whopping 42 medals in those Games.
How to help
▪ The total cost of sending Team Kentucky to the 2018 USA Games is expected to approach $100,000. For information about how you can help sponsor the team or to make a donation, contact Trish Mazzoni at 502-695-8222 or email@example.com.
▪ For more information about Team Kentucky or about the USA Games, contact Special Olympics Kentucky Director of Communications and External Relations Mark Buerger at 502-695-8222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.