Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete Micah Gumness of Pickett was among 12 Special Olympics athletes from around the world selected to compete in the 8th Annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports® Game on Friday, February 15th, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina as part of NBA All-Star Weekend. The game will take place at Bojangles Coliseum at 5:00pm ET.
The NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Game represents a 44-year global partnership between Special Olympics and the NBA. Taking place each year during NBA All-Star, the Unified Game pairs Special Olympics athletes with NBA and WNBA players and legends in a 40-minute game of inclusion and acceptance.
“Micah feels strongly about wanting to encourage any people with disabilities to join Special Olympics… He wants others to know that the word disability doesn’t need to define them.” – Micah’s mother, Stephanie
This year’s Unified game will feature Gumness and 11 other Special Olympics athletes representing 7 countries, as well as athletes competing in Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Each athlete will enjoy an unforgettable NBA All-Star experience, including a meet-and-greet with members of the NBA family and tickets to events throughout the week. “I’m mostly excited to play on the NBA Cares All-Star team because I love to play basketball,” Gumness said. “I am also excited to meet Special Olympics athletes from around the word and of course, NBA players!”
Here at home, Gumness competes with The Arc Fond du Lac. In the summer of 2018, Gumness helped Team Wisconsin earn a silver medal in basketball during the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle. “Micah feels strongly about wanting to encourage any people with disabilities to join Special Olympics. He himself was very hesitant to join 3 years ago, but in the end has been so grateful because he sees that those with disabilities can use their abilities through Special Olympics,” said Stephanie Gumness, Micah’s mother. “He wants others to know that the word disability doesn’t need to define them.”
“It was a very competitive process to be selected for this and the fact that he’s one of just twelve athletes from around the world participating and one of only six from the United States really speaks to his character and determination.” – Don Wigington, SOWI’s VP of Sports & Health Programs
It was no small task for Gumness to earn his spot on the roster in Charlotte. He had to complete a rigorous application process that included submitting a video where Gumness had to make a case for being selected. “We’re incredibly excited for Micah to participate in the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports Game. It’s a huge honor and we couldn’t be prouder of him,” said Don Wigington, Special Olympics Wisconsin’s VP of Sports & Health Programs. “It was a very competitive process to be selected for this and the fact that he’s one of just twelve athletes from around the world participating and one of only six from the United States really speaks to his character and determination.”
First held at NBA All-Star 2012, the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game continues the long-standing partnership that started when the league helped to introduce the sport of basketball to Special Olympics more than 40 years ago. Following the game, NBA and WNBA legends will host more than 50 youth athletes from local Special Olympics Programs for a basketball clinic at the Charlotte Convention Center. The NBA and WNBA legends playing alongside these determined athletes on February 15 will be announced in the coming month.