In a whirlwind week of celebration, camaraderie, and competition, Team Wisconsin certainly took the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Fla., by storm. Medals were claimed—39 to be exact—numerous personal bests were set, and the delegation of nearly 100 statewide athletes and coaches representing cities and towns from Ashland to Williams Bay wrapped up a busy week on Saturday, June 11, filled with incredible triumph.
In total, Team Wisconsin competed in 76 total events—52 individual and 24 doubles/team—facing opponents from 51 delegations across the United States and 11 delegations representing Caribbean nations. When the final finish line was crossed, Team Wisconsin earned 14 gold, 12 silver, and 13 bronze medals—a medal in more than half of the finals featuring a Wisconsin athlete.
Athletics (Track & Field) led the way with five gold, two silver, and four bronze finishes alone—including gold in the 4×100 relay. Bocce was right on pace with four gold, three silver, and four bronze with all three four-person teams claiming gold or silver. Swimming posted four golds of its own to go with a pair of silvers and bronzes for eight total medals. And Bowling landed four silver and three bronze finishes distributed evenly between singles, doubles, and team competition.
The pair of team sports also had an incredible week. Unified Flag Football’s last-minute go-ahead touchdown to secure gold was certainly one of the more memorable finishes from the week, while big time hits and clutch fielding led Softball to a silver in the highest division offered at the USA Games.
Numerous outside events dotted the weekly itinerary as well. The Youth Leadership Experience, featuring students and staff from Neenah High School, participated in programing and held a social media takeover Thursday and Friday. Weeklong Healthy Athletes programming helped all participants earn a free pair of shoes. Our very own X Games-turned-media star Daina Shilts (Neillsville, Wis.) was welcomed as an ESPN Analyst for the nationally-broadcast Opening Ceremony. UW-Oshkosh Chief of Police Chris Tarmann represented Wisconsin at the arduous LETR Final Leg leading into the week of competition. And of course, memories were made at the Opening Ceremony and various Disney Theme Parks Team Wisconsin attended throughout the week.
Prior to Team Wisconsin’s departure for the USA Games on Saturday, June 4, Special Olympics Wisconsin held a noontime send-off celebration at Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee. Guest speakers included Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, SOWI President & CEO Chad Hershner, and Team Wisconsin athletes, coaches, and delegation personnel. Also featuring entertainment from Bango and the Bucks Beats drum corps, the event was hosted and emceed by DJ Shawna Nicols, official DJ & Producer of the Milwaukee Bucks.
These events were made possible by impressive and generous donations from supporters across the state. Corey Coonen, State Deputy of the Wisconsin State Council Knights of Columbus, presented a check for $142,677 in support of Team Wisconsin at the send-off event—surpassing the group’s initial four-year fundraising goal. The nationwide Jersey Mike’s campaign raised $173,750 for Team Wisconsin alone. And the individual efforts by the delegation via Polar Plunges and other grassroots means raised $153,511. In total, supporters from across the Badger State raised nearly $500,000 to support Team Wisconsin and its commitment to inclusion.
It was a long, hot week in Orlando. But with so much success and so many memories made, Team Wisconsin is already looking forward to Minneapolis for the 2026 Special Olympics USA Games!