Special Olympic athletes honored during 'Breakfast with Champions'

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

It was a morning of inspiration and camaraderie at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Thursday, as hundreds of people gathered to support a special group of Arizona athletes.

Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ) celebrated its 11th Annual Breakfast with Champions. The proceeds from the event help support more than 25,000 athletes statewide through programs at SOAZ that go on all year long.

Athletes participate in year-round competition and training at no cost to themselves or their families, thanks to special events like Thursday's fundraising breakfast.

The organization’s main goal of this year’s Breakfast with Champions was to raise $250,000 with the intent to sponsor hundreds of athletes for an entire year of competition.

The inspirational breakfast event brought together more than 1,200 community leaders, law enforcement personnel, coaches, families and athletes to hear motivational speakers testify to the positive impact SOAZ has on the lives of everyone involved.

"I enjoyed making a bunch of new friends says," athlete Martha Baracy. "You get the chance to see different parts of the country." She also added that her experience with Special Olympics helped make her more independent.

Guests heard from a variety of athletes and community partners and a recent valley ESPY winner Paige Harris, who is a dedicated 18-year-old SOAZ athlete.
Special Olympics Athletes
For people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics is often the only place where they have an opportunity to participate in their communities and develop a belief in themselves. For athletes, Special Olympics sports provide a gateway to empowerment, competence, acceptance and joy.  The lessons learned in Special Olympics also impact their life skills. Sports training enhances focus and gives participants a structure for learning important lessons about perseverance, endurance and setting goals. Many people are surprised to know, more than half of adult Special Olympics athletes in the United States are employed, versus 10 percent of intellectually disabled persons who do not participate in Special Olympics. 
Special Olympics Mission

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

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