Every four years, Special Olympics athletes from all over the United States compete in the Special Olympics USA Games. From June 5-12, 2022, more than 5,500 athletes headed to Orlando, Florida to compete at the highest level. Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) assembled 175 athletes, coaches, and Unified partners to represent Team New Jersey in 14 of the 19 sports featured.
These athletes all elected to represent Team New Jersey in Orlando instead of participating in the annual SONJ Summer Games, which were held at the same time on June 10-12.
The team got to know their teammates and coaches and trained in preparation for months leading up to June. They also sold Team New Jersey t-shirts to raise money for the trip.
When it was time to depart to Florida, they assembled at the SONJ Sports Complex where they were given a police escort to the airport to depart for Florida.
The team came home with 94 gold medals, including basketball, flag football, and soccer team sports. They also won 41 silver medals and 53 bronze medals that combined for a total of 188 medals! Some of the highlights included an undefeated run by the Flag Football team, a comeback photo finish for Michael McCloskey (athletics – 1500m) and an amazing win for Jessica Gaeta (swimming – 25 yd backstroke).