Special Olympics Arizona Cheer Team Takes Gold at USA Games in Orlando

Special Olympics Arizona’s Cheer Team took home the gold medal in competitive cheer at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. 

This was the first year that the USA Games featured competitive cheer as an event, and the Arizona cheer team now has the distinguished honor of being the first team to earn the gold medal. 

“Congratulations to our Arizona Cheer Team, the athletes, the unified partners and the coaches,” said Jamie Heckerman, President and CEO of Special Olympics Arizona. “This is a great honor. I know the entire state of Arizona is proud of all of the hard work they have put in to get here. This is such an incredible moment.”

Members of the cheer team include AnnMarie Demeter (Head Coach), Brittany Meola (Assistant Coach), Dionna White (Assistant Coach), Emilio Ramirez (Assistant Coach), Brianna Sanchez (Athlete), Eric Robinette (Athlete), Ethan Thorpe (Athlete), Mary Potocki (Athlete), Michele Martin (Athlete), Alana Arocho (Unified Partner), Amanda Hicks (Unified Partner), Danielle Pfeiffer (Unified Partner), Hailey Knight-Ayers (Unified Partner), and Kari Biedenbender (Unified Partner). 

Special Olympics Arizona is being represented by more than 115 athletes, partners and coaches at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, which is being held June 5-12 in Orlando. This year the USA Games will showcase more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from throughout the country, competing in front of more than 125,000 spectators and supporters at one of the country’s most cherished sporting events. 

Special Olympics Arizona is represented in 10 sports – Athletics, Basketball (Unified), Bocce, Cheer, Flag Football, Golf, Powerlifting, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Swimming and Volleyball. For a complete list of all sports and athletes who will be competing in Orlando, visit https://specialolympicsarizona.org/sports-competitions/usa-games/

Additionally, the Arizona delegation will include one athlete serving as a Health Messenger to encourage Team Arizona athletes to attend Healthy Athletes programming during the games, one coach and one Unified pair (one athlete and one partner) will be participating in the Youth Leadership Experience, and one Unified pair from Cortez High School will serve as Special Olympics North America Youth Ambassadors.

“We are so proud of all of our athletes, partners and coaches who will be representing the state of Arizona at the 2022 USA Games,” Heckerman said. “This is a great stage to not only showcase competition and athletics, but to celebrate all of the dedication and perseverance these athletes display in everyday life. We wish them the best of luck and want them to know that everyone in Arizona is rooting for them.”

Each athlete and coach participating in the 2022 USA Games had to fundraise a minimum of $1,500, with most raising funds through the support of their school and community.

Hosted every four years, the USA Games showcase 19 Olympic-style team and individual sports and 30 events during the week, including forums and VIP receptions.  For more information, visit www.2022usagames.org

The purpose of Special Olympics Arizona is to empower children and adults with intellectual disabilities to live healthy, fulfilling and meaningful lives. This vision of acceptance and inclusion is realized through health, leadership, and advocacy programs, as well as providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-style sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving more 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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