Special Olympians Headed to USA Games

Thirteen area athletes representing Home of Hope in Vinita and subsidiary Delaware County Friendship Homes (DCFH) in Jay will be headed to Seattle this week to represent Special Olympics Oklahoma in the 2018 USA Games.  Only 36 athletes and unified partners were chosen for Team Oklahoma based on dedication, enthusiasm, and love for Special Olympics.

Jackie Long will represent Home of Hope in the Athletics division participating in the Pentathlon which includes 100 and 400 meter track events, and the field events of long jump, shot put, and high jump – his favorite being the track events.  Jackie is very pleased to receive this honor and excited about his trip to the USA Games.

For the former national champion softball team The Fighting Peacocks, representing northeastern Oklahoma and the Delaware County Friendship Homes is nothing new.  The Fighting Peacocks won the national championship in 2016 and 2015, placing 2nd in 2017 and 2014 and 3rd in 2012.  On the state level, the Fighting Peacock teams have been in the state play-offs several years in multiple divisions with the men’s team being state champions for 7 consecutive years.

Alicia Jory, DCFH Residential Services Director, coaches the team and is understandably proud of their record and accomplishments.  “Being able to coach this team has been both and honor and a blessing.  This group of athletes go above and beyond with their trainings and competitions.”

Jory explains the significance of what some might think is an unusual name.  “We are the Fighting Peacocks in remembrance of one of our late athletes, Travis Ellis.  Travis loved Special Olympics and everything about it.  He had a natural competitive nature, and loved to compete, but most of all, win.  When he got upset or excited he called everyone “peacock chickens.”  One practice he was excited about a hit that he had gotten and started calling people his favorite, Peacock Chickens, and it just stuck.  From then on, we were the Fighting Peacocks.”

From July 1-6, 2018 more than 4,000 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will gather in Seattle to compete in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports before tens of thousands of spectators and volunteers.  “Competing at USA Games is an opportunity for our athletes to showcase their skills on a national level.  Some of these athletes will come home as national champions!” said John Seals, Head of Delegation and Special Olympics Oklahoma Program Director.  “Just as every athlete in the world aspires to reach the best level of competition, the athletes of Special Olympics have those same aspirations.”

Home of Hope CEO Dr. Ralph Richardson agrees.  “Home of Hope is so proud of the Fighting Peacock softball team and Jackie Long as an individual pentathlete.  Not everyone realizes that Special Olympians work, train, and sweat like all other athletes who are devoted to preparing for competition.  To see these men and women being recognized nationally for all their hard work is truly exciting.”