Two Special Olympics Arizona Athletes Honored At White House

Posted By on July 24, 2019

The White House last week welcomed 20 members of the Special Olympics delegation, including two from Special Olympics Arizona, to congratulate and recognize them for their accomplishments at the recently held Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.  

The group was part of the 315-member team that represented the United States, competing in 18 of the 24 sports offered.  Special Olympics USA athletes brought home 72 gold, 62 silver and 70 bronze medals, as well as 97 participation ribbons.  The event marked the first time a Special Olympics team was invited to the White House after representing their country at a Special Olympics World Games event.  

Tasha Crofton and her son, Sawne Rippey, were the two delegates representing Special Olympics Arizona at the White House. They were members of the Special Olympics Arizona basketball team that  played in the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle and the  Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, with Sawne competing as a Special Olympics athlete, and Tasha competing as a Unified Partner (Unified Partners train and compete as a teammate alongside Special Olympics athletes on a Unified Sports Team.

“We are so proud of Tasha and Sawne, along with everyone from Special Olympics USA who showcased their skills in the Special Olympics World Games,” said Jamie Heckerman, CEO of Special Olympics Arizona.  “It truly is a remarkable accomplishment to be recognized by the White House and an honor that will last with them a lifetime.”

“These athletes brought grit, hard work and passion to their sport, excelling on a global stage, and demonstrating to the world the power of inclusion and how it changes attitudes,” said Mary Davis, Special Olympics Chief Executive Officer. “What an incredible honor for our athletes to be recognized by the White House, not only for their athletic achievements, but also for demonstrating continued courage, determination, teamwork and inclusion. Their dedication and efforts resulted in a nation and a world inspired; a legacy that will be felt for lifetimes to come.”

For the very first time in Special Olympics’ 50-year history, the Special Olympics World Games were held in the Middle East. The Games were held from March 14 to 21 in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and showcased over 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing over 192 nations. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 was one of the largest, most inclusive, most unified, most diverse and most successful World Games in the history of Special Olympics, bringing unprecedented awareness to the mission of Special Olympics and the power of inclusion through sport.

Every two years, the world transcends the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion to come together for the Special Olympics World Games. Alternating between summer and winter Games, this event is the flagship event of the Special Olympics movement, which promotes inclusion, equality, and acceptance around the world. Sweden will host the 2021 Special Olympics World Winter Games from February 6-12.

Special Olympics USA is the national team that represents the United States at Special Olympics World Summer and Winter Games. Team members compete in an array of the 32 official Special Olympics summer and winter sports, in individual and team formats.

Ashley Ford

About Ashley Ford

Ashley Ford is Assistant Publisher of Frontdoors Media. She can be reached at

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