Special Olympics Wisconsin will be represented on Special Olympics USA’s 313-member delegation at the 2019 World Games by two athletes, two Unified partners, three coaches and a sport manager across four sports.
Agency: 5-12 Hopp Alumni
Patricia lives in Green Bay, where she has been involved with Special Olympics as a volunteer, coach and Unified partner for many years. This will be her first World Games competition. Patricia is an accomplished bowler, with an impressive personal best of 269. Outside of her involvement with Special Olympics, her hobbies include traveling, reading and gardening. She’s excited to travel to Abu Dhabi to meet athletes from around the world and, of course, compete with her daughter Joanna in bowling.
Agency: 5-12 Hopp Alumni
Joanna hails from Green Bay, where she has been a Special Olympics athlete since 1996. This will be her first trip to a World Games. In addition to bowling, Joanna has competed in basketball, soccer, golf, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. She feels Special Olympics has helped her learned many life skills, including things like sportsmanship and teamwork. Outside of Special Olympics, you can find Joanna participating in Knights of Columbus or church activities, or working at Subway. Her Unified partner for the World Games is her mother, Patricia. Joanna’s proud to represent her country in Abu Dhabi and looks forward to meeting new athletes from around the world.
Agency: 8-14 West Allis
Ryon hails from West Allis, where he has been a SOWI athlete since 2016. This will be his first World Games competition. In addition to golf, he competes in athletics and basketball through Special Olympics. His hobbies include watching NASCAR and baseball, camping, and competing in karate, where he’s earned a green belt. Ryon credits Special Olympics with helping him learn new sports and make new friends. He’s most looking forward to the pageantry of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the World Games.
Agency: 8-14 West Allis
Ken lives in West Allis, where he serves as a basketball coach and Unified partner. This will be his first trip to a World Games. He loves Unified Sports because it’s about inclusion and teamwork, with a focus on effort and camaraderie instead of purely on results. In addition to coaching basketball and golfing with Ryon, Ken enjoys traveling and rooting on the Packers, Brewers and Bucks. Ken is the manager of Steny’s Tavern and Grill in Milwaukee but coaching for Special Olympics is the best part of his week.
Coaches and staff
Bonita is a resident of Tomahawk. She has been involved with Special Olympics for over 30 years at the local and state level. She has coached athletics during two other Special Olympics World Summer Games, and cross country skiing at five Special Olympics World Winter Games. She recently retired from teaching Physical Education and Adaptive Physical Education and is using her spare time to ski, hike, fish, and build log furniture. She is looking forward to an amazing adventure with the athletes and coaches in Abu Dhabi.
Melissa is a resident of Eau Claire. She initially joined the Special Olympics family as a development and sports intern for Special Olympics North Carolina but since 2011 she has been an athletic director for Special Olympics Wisconsin. Melissa represented Special Olympics Wisconsin as an assistant coach for bocce at the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey and previously served as a sport manager for the Special Olympics USA figure skating and speed skating teams at the Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017. She will be serving as the sport manager for tennis in Abu Dhabi. Melissa was born and raised in southeast Michigan and is an avid fan of the Detroit Red Wings and University of Michigan Wolverines. She is heavily involved in her community as a volunteer and is the current President of the Chippewa Valley After Hours Rotary Club. Melissa loves animals, live music, and cold weather.
Hailing from Neillsville, Steve started with Special Olympics Wisconsin in 1985 as a volunteer and it has now become a part of him forever. He has attended seven Special Olympics World Games, both winter and summer. Steve also gets involved with Special Olympics Wisconsin by serving as part of management teams for local events. He is also a clinician for several sports and involved in training coaches and athletes. Steve’s other interests include photography, cycling, kayaking, wildlife work and trail building. The biggest reward for Steve is meeting great athletes and coaches from all over the world and seeing them compete on the world stage.
Debra is a resident of Nekoosa. She started coaching Special Olympics in 1987, and since that time, has served as an agency manager, coach, trainer for sports and athletic leadership programs, volunteer, and has served on several local and state committees. She has also had the opportunity to coach at the National and World Games level with Special Olympics World Games. Abu Dhabi 2019 being her 11th experience. Debra credits Special Olympics for making an enormous impact on her life. When she isn’t involved with Special Olympics, Debra still loves giving back. She enjoys creating artsy things, doing respite for families who have children with special needs, as well as camping, spending time with her grandchildren, and going to Brewers games. Debra is looking forward to traveling to a new country with Special Olympics USA and watching the athletes create new memories and new milestones in their life.