Our longtime participant Cassie T. was selected to compete at the Special Olympics USA Games this July and her outstanding performance in three track and field events qualified her for the World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi next March.

Cassie placed seventh in the 100-meter dash, fifth in the 4×100 meter relay, and fourth in the 200-meter dash. In Abu Dhabi, she will again compete in the 100-meter and 4×100 events and will also take part in the javelin throw event.

The USA Games drew over 4,000 athletes and 102,000 spectators, making it the largest sporting event in Seattle in over 25 years. ESPN’s Kevin Neghandi anchored nightly coverage of the games, beginning with a two-hour live broadcast of the Opening Ceremony emceed by actor Taye Diggs and featuring musical performances by Charlie Puth, Ann Wilson of Heart, and a 2,018-member choir.

The World Games are expected to be an even bigger event, with 7,000 athletes representing 170 nations, upwards of 500,000 live spectators, and a global television audience numbering in the tens of millions.

This is Cassie’s fortieth year competing in the Special Olympics and her tenth at Challenge, where she has worked in Contract Production and at the Food Hub. Many of her friends at Challenge helped to underwrite her trip to Seattle by purchasing commemorative torches, which adorned the front lobby in the weeks leading up to her departure.

She says, “I loved the experience. The people I met over there were so nice. I had the time of my life, and I was so lucky to get chosen to represent Team USA at the World Games.” Before she heads to the Emirates, she will attend an intensive training camp in Delaware with several of her teammates from Special Olympics New York Area 17.

The Special Olympics athlete oath, borrowed from that of the ancient Roman gladiators, is “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” For all who know Cassie, there is no question that she will face her competition on the global stage with an abundance of boldness and determination.