We've made changes to our Privacy Policy. To review these updates please click here.

  • 128x85-Apolo-Ohno

    Celebrity Supporters

    Below you will find ambassadors from the worlds of sports, entertainment and music who are helping bring awareness to the important work of Special Olympics.


Andre Drummond, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Biography: Andre Drummond is hard to ignore on the basketball court not only because of his seven-foot frame, but also because of his natural athleticism and strength that make him one of the most powerful big-men in the league. A starter for the Detroit Pistons and 2016 NBA All-Star and Rebounding Champion, he was named the 2014 Rising Stars Challenge MVP at NBA All-Star and won the 2014 Basketball World Cup with Team USA. 

Born in Mount Vernon, NY, Andre was one of the most dominating centers in high school basketball, winning the 2011 National Prep Championship with St Thomas More. Shortly after, he announced he would be playing for the University of Connecticut the following year. As a freshman, he led UConn in rebounds per game, blocks per game and field goal percentage. The call of the NBA was strong, and Andre declared for the 2012 NBA Draft, getting picked ninth overall by the Detroit Pistons, where he quickly became the pillar around which the team would be built. 

You don’t have to look far to see how Andre got to where he is today – his mom, and number one fan, is always on the sidelines cheering him on. He also has a younger sister, and shares a dog, Roscoe, with his mom.


Apolo Anton Ohno, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Biography:  Apolo Anton Ohno is an American short track speed skating competitor and an eight-time medalist (two gold, two silver, four bronze) in the Winter Olympics. He is the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete of all time. Raised by his father, Ohno began training full-time in 1996. At the age of 14, he became the youngest U.S. national champion in 1997 and was the reigning champion from 2001-2009, winning the title and total of 12 times. In December 1999, he became the youngest skater to win a World Cup event title. Two years later, in 2001, Ohno became the first American to win a World Cup overall title, which he won again in 2003 and 2005. He won his first overall World Championship title at the 2008 championships. Ohno’s accolades and accomplishments include being the United States Olympic Committee’s Male Athlete of the Month in October 2003 and March 2008, the U.S. Speedskating’s Athlete of the Year for 2003, and a 2002, 2003, and 2006 finalist for the Sullivan Award, which recognizes the best amateur athlete in the United States. Since gaining recognition through his sport, Ohno has worked as a motivational speaker and a philanthropist and started a nutritional supplement business called 8 Zone. In 2007, he competed on and won the reality TV show Dancing with the Stars.

Engagement: In 2012, Ohno traveled to support Special Olympics Nippon at its Winter National Games in Fukushima, where he participated in Opening Ceremonies and hosted skate clinics. He continued to China to host several skate clinics, where he drew inspiration for his blog, Fly Your Hope.

Ohno attended the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeonchang, Korea, where he participated in a Unified Sports Experience with Special Olympics athletes and several former Olympic skate champions


Brooklyn Decker, Special Olympics Ambassador for Team USA

Biography:  Brooklyn Decker is an actress on the rise and the budding talent in many major films and popular TV shows. At 18, Brooklyn moved to New York City and quickly rose to stardom within the industry, gracing the pages of magazines including Glamour and Cosmopolitan and participating in advertising campaigns for Gap and American Eagle. Brooklyn’s big break came in 2010 when she appeared on the cover of the wildly popular Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue after appearing in the magazine in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. She then went on to appear in romantic comedy “Just Go With It” opposite Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, star in the sci-fi epic “Battleship”, and bring tears of laughter to watchers of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Brooklyn has also made TV appearances on The New Girl and FX’s The League. When not acting, Brooklyn is an avid sports fan, rooting for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the Carolina Panthers, her two favorite teams. Inspired by her love of sports and her family connection with an aunt with an intellectual disability, Brooklyn became active in the Special Olympics in her hometown of Charlotte.

Engagement:  As a Special Olympics Ambassador for Team USA, Brooklyn has hosted the opening ceremonies of the 2012 USA National Games in Nebraska with Special Olympics Athlete and Board Member Eddie Barbanell. View Brooklyn sharing her experience with Special Olympics.

Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Biography:  Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco Charlene Wittstock is an Olympic and World Champion swimmer from South Africa. As a child, she developed a passion for swimming and, in 1996, won her first South African Championship at the age of 18. Four years later, Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco qualified for the 2000 Olympic Games as a member of the South Africa 4x100m medley relay team, which placed fifth. In 2002, she won three gold medals at the swimming World Cup in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, and 4x100m medley relay. After a successful career, Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco retired from swimming in 2007. Growing up in Africa heightened her awareness of the challenges affecting impoverished children, and, as a result, she is currently involved with numerous humanitarian organizations. She is the Honorary President of Ladies Lunch Monte Carlo, an associate of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics. Additionally, she has become involved in the charitable works of her husband, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, who she met at a swim meet in 2000. An avid surfer and hiker, Wittstock enjoys reading biographies, ethnic South African poetry, and studying contemporary art.

Engagement:  As a Special Olympics Global Ambassador, Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco has participated in a number of events, including the 2011 World Summer Games in Greece, a trip to China where she and fellow Special Olympics Global Ambassador Yao Ming played volleyball on a special school visit in March 2012.    
Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Biography:  Selected by Portland as the #6 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Damian started in all 82 games during his rookie campaign. He led all rookies in scoring averaging 19.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 38.6 minutes per game. In the Trail Blazers season opener versus the Los Angeles Lakers, Damian joined Oscar Robertson and Allen Iverson as the only players in NBA history with at least 20 points and 10 assists in their NBA debut. Damian was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in May 2013, becoming just the fourth unanimous Rookie of the Year in NBA history. He swept the Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors for all six months, becoming one of just eight players to sweep NBA Rookie of the Month honors since the inaugural award in 1981-82, joining Ralph Sampson, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Damian joins Oscar Robertson and Allen Iverson as the only rookies in NBA history to record 1,500 points and 500 assists in one season. In April of 2013, Damian broke the all-time NBA rookie record for 3-pointers in one season with 185, surpassing Stephen Curry’s 166 set in 2009-10, Damian is the first Trail Blazer to win an NBA All-Star event, capturing Saturday night’s Skills Challenge. He also participated in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend, finishing with 18 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists in a game-high 28 minutes. This summer, Damian was named to the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp roster.

Engagement:  In 2013, Damian was recognized as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador at the Special Olympics and The Walt Disney Company/ESPN Partnership announcement in Bristol, Connecticut. During the 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, TX, where Damian served as an honorary coach at the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports basketball game, he was impressed with the Special Olympics Basketball players and reminisced about his College days volunteering with Special Olympics. Damian shared his reasons for teaming up with Special Olympics, “I realized how much of an impact I had on them and just how much they have the same abilities that we have. I’m happy to be a part of it and …to raise the awareness for people with intellectual disabilities.” Damian also supports Special Olympics annual Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign which is a national campaign to encourage people to pledge to stop using the word retard.

Dani Alves, Special Olympics Ambassador for Global Football

Biography: Born in Juazeiro, Brazil on May 6, 1983, Daniel Alves de Silva, commonly known as Dani Alves, plays as an attacking right defender for FC Barcelona and the Brazilian national team. Before joining Barcelona, Alves spent a successful six year spell with Sevilla FC, winning two UEFA Cups and the Copa del Rey with the Andalucian side. He joined Barcelona for €32.5 million, becoming the most expensive defender to date. Alves won the Treble in his first season with the club and a further Spanish super cup, European super cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup, thus achieving the Sextuple. He also helped the club to clinch another Spanish super cup, two league titles, and a UEFA Champions League in the years that followed.

Engagement: As a Special Olympics Ambassador for Global Football, Dani participates in awareness campaigns and is integral in the efforts to promote more opportunities for athletes with disabilities. 


Didier Drogba, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Biography: As one of the most successful soccer players of all time, Didier Drogba has earned worldwide acclaim both as a professional sportsman and champion for peace in his native Côte d’Ivoire. Born in Abidjan, Drogba moved to France at an early age, becoming a global football (soccer) player and leading the world-famous Chelsea club in London to multiple championships, including the world-renowned Champions League trophy. Drogba is still Chelsea’s most successful European goal scorer. Altogether, he scored 157 goals in 341 appearances with Chelsea, and helped the club to four English Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups. Drogba stands tall as one of the most powerful sports stars in Africa, twice named African Footballer of the year in his 104 caps for Côte d’Ivoire, amassing a record 65 goals and leading the national team in three World Cups.

Earning acclaim for his humanitarian efforts when the ongoing civil war ravaged Côte d'Ivoire in 2006, Drogba led the nation’s soccer team in prayers for peace. After the World Cup qualifying games, he called for an end to the war, with his efforts in unifying the country around sport eventually helped to bring about a cease-fire.

Engagement: Drogba has supported Special Olympics since the 2012 Africa Regional Games, especially within his home country, Special Olympics Côte d’Ivoire. His generous donations of sports equipment and personal resources provided support to athletes at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Dikembe Mutombo, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Biography: Dikembe Mutombo is a National Basketball Association (NBA) legend and an NBA Global Ambassador. A retired Congolese American professional basketball player, Dikembe is best remembered as a star center for the Houston Rockets of the NBA. The 7 ft. 2 in (2.18m) center is one of the greatest shot blockers and defensive players of all time and has won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times. On January 10, 2007, Dikembe surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the second most prolific shot blocker in NBA history. Other NBA honors include NBA All-Rookie Team (1992), 8-time NBA All-Star, 3-time All NBA, and 6-time All-Defensive Team. A well-known humanitarian, Mutombo started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve living conditions in his native Democratic Republic of Congo. On August 14, 2006, Mutombo donated $15 million for the completion of the Biambe Marie Mutombo Hospital in Kinshasa, which is named after his late mother who passed away of a stroke in 1997.

Engagement: In 2012, Dikembe was recognized as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador.  In 2011. Dikembe participated in the Special OIympics World Summer Games in Athens.  Dikembe not only promotes basketball with NBA Cares clinics in Africa, but also football at the Special Olympics  Africa Unity Football Cup in 2012.  Dikembe participated in 2013 Unified Sports Experience in Floor Hockey at the Korea 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea. View Dikembe sharing his experience with Special Olympics.


Elena Delle Donne, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Biography: Elena Delle Donne is a professional basketball player currently in her fourth season as one of the premiere talents in the WNBA. After three successful seasons with the Chicago Sky, Elena has joined the Washington Mystics. Delle Donne has firmly established herself as a leader of the next generation of great American basketball players after being selected to the 2016 US Women’s Olympic Basketball team where she led the team to a gold medal. In 2015, Delle Donne was named the WNBA MVP and an espnW Impact 25 athlete. Delle Donne has also been a three-time WNBA All-Star in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and a three-time WNBA First-Team player in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Delle Donne began her WNBA career by being selected second overall by the Chicago Sky in the 2013 WNBA Draft. Delle Donne had a decorated 2013 season that saw her take home Rookie of the Year honors as well as accumulate four consecutive Rookie of the Month awards. Moreover, the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne, finished as the top vote getter for the WNBA All-Star Game and made a run at the WNBA MVP award. To top off her rookie season, Delle Donne guided the Sky to the franchise’s first playoff berth in its eight year existence and continued to lead the team to the playoffs for the next two seasons. Prior to her WNBA career, Delle Donne attended the University of Delaware to remain close to her tight-knit family. While at Delaware, Delle Donne completed an extraordinary collegiate career. Delle Donne lead her team to its first ever NCAA Sweet Sixteen her senior year, was a consensus first team All-American, and finished as CAA Conference Player of the Year three times. Delle Donne has an older brother Gene who played college football as a tight end, first at Duke then Middle Tennessee and an older sister Lizzie, who has cerebral palsy and is blind and deaf.

Engagement: Elena has a special place in her heart for Special Olympics because of her sister’s participation through the MATP (Motor Activity Training) program. Elena has witnessed the positive impact that inclusion can have on children and individuals with intellectual disabilities and she has always dedicated her time to volunteering locally in Delaware both in her personal time and while in school at the University of Delaware. During Elena’s announcement in February 2014, she participated in a Unified Basketball clinic in Illinois with 26 Special Olympics Illinois athletes and 80 students from Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Elena looks forward to continuing to engage with Special Olympics to help bring awareness to individuals with intellectual disabilities through basketball. She participated in the 2014 NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball games in New Orleans during NBA All-Star Weekend and served as Honorary Coach for the Special Olympics basketball team exhibition at the 2014 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament. Elena will also lead the efforts with the WNBA to help raise awareness for the sport of basketball within Special Olympics, particularly among females, with the goal of increasing female basketball participation worldwide. Furthering her commitment to Unified competition and to encourage more Special Olympics girls to play basketball, Elena will include Special Olympics girls in her De11e Donne Skills Academy camps along with other middle and high school girls.

Hannah Teter, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Biography: Hannah Teter is a Professional Snowboarder and world champion athlete from Belmont, Vermont. She is the first Action-Sports Global Ambassador for Special Olympics. She is an Olympic champion, having won the gold medal in halfpipe at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. She also won bronze at the 2005 FIS World Championships at Whistler, British Columbia, and has six World Cup victories in her career. Hannah was born into a snowboarding family, and is the only girl among five brothers. Two of her older brothers have competed for the US Snowboard Team. In January 2010, Teter was named to the US Team for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. She won the silver medal in women's halfpipe at the Vancouver Games. In 2010, Hannah was awarded the VH1 Do Something Award for Athlete of the Year and was also one of four American athletes to model for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in a section devoted to Winter Olympians. Hannah is known for her humanitarian efforts, specifically for the creation of her charity, Hannah’s Gold, which raises funds for a clean water project for a small town in Kenya. Ben and Jerry’s limited edition flavor "Maple Blondie" was created in her honor and a portion of the proceeds go to Hannah’s Gold.

Engagement: In June 2012, Hannah attended the Special Olympics Vermont State Games. In January 2013, Hannah attended the Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea, where she participated in a Unified Sports Experience in snowboarding, spoke at the Global Development Summit on Sports in developing countries, and engaged with youth leaders and Unified youth pairs (young people with and without intellectual disabilities) at the Global Youth Activation Summit Youth Rally. In the summer of 2013, Hannah attended the Southern California Summer Games at Cal-State Long Beach where she participated in Opening Ceremonies, watched competition and participated in Unified Sports Experience in bocce with athletes from Southern California. During Hannah’s announcement in January 2014, she participated in a Unified Sports Dual Slalom Snowboarding Race with 11 Special Olympics Colorado athletes, brothers Abe and Amen Teter and special guests Arielle Gold, Jamie Anderson, Scotty James, Mitchie Brusco and Johnny Bananas on Silver Dip Mountain in Aspen. In the coming months Hannah will be leading Special Olympics efforts to broaden Special Olympics athlete participation in action sports as well as link her passion and humanitarian efforts in the developing world with Special Olympics.

Hidetoshi Nakata, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Biography: Hidetoshi Nakata is a retired Japanese football player and is considered one of the most famous Asian footballers of his generation. Nakata began his professional career in 1995 and won the Asian Football Confederation Player of the Year award in 1997 and 1998 and the Scudetto with A.S. Roma in 2001. He played for Japan in three FIFA World Cup tournaments (1998, 2002 and 2006) and played in the Olympics twice (1996 and 2000). Nakata announced his retirement at age 29 on July 3, 2006 after a ten-year career that included seven seasons in the Italian Serie A and a season in the English Premier League. In March 2004, Pelé named Nakata in his FIFA 100, a list of the top living footballers at the time. 

Engagement: Hidetoshi Nakata became a Special Olympics Global Ambassador in October 2014 and has been a supporter of Special Olympics Nippon for many years. Nakata's Take Action Foundation is based upon the theme of “Just one thing, whatever you can do.” The foundation organizes activities such as soccer matches, charity galas, and various other events and campaigns that link the actions of each individual to solve global issues.

In-Kyung (I.K.) Kim, Special Olympics Ambassador for Golf

Biography: In-Kyung (I.K.) Kim is a South Korean female professional golfer currently playing on the LPGA tour. In her rookie year of 2007 she had four top-10 finishes. The next year, I.K. recorded seven top-10 finishes and claimed her first win at the Longs Drugs Challenge. In June 2009, she claimed her second career title with a one-shot win over compatriot Se-Ri Pak to take the LPGA State Farm Classic in Illinois, US. In December 2009, Kim won her third professional title, winning the Dubai Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour. Kim won her fourth professional title and third LPGA title at the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational, from which she donated her entire winnings to charity. In 2010, Kim won Rookie of the Year honors on the Ladies European Tour and, in 2012, Special Olympics recognized her as a Special Olympics Ambassador for Golf.

Engagement: As the Special Olympics Ambassador for Golf, I.K. has hosted several golf clinics for athletes and generously contributed $100,000 gift to support expansion of the sport.  She recently helped to announce the new partnership between ShopRite and Special Olympics in support of the 2014 Special Olympics US National Games in New Jersey. Watch I.K. speak about the partnership and her time with Special Olympics.
300x200 Jamaal Charles

Jamaal Charles, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Jamaal Charles is a perennial All Pro and Pro Bowl running back for the Kansas City Chiefs. He was born on December 27, 1986, in Port Arthur, Texas. Jamaal excelled as a child in sports and then as a teenager he became an All-American high school football player and track athlete. At Port Arthur Memorial High School he rushed for over 4,000 yards and had 50 touchdowns in his final two seasons. Jamaal attended the University of Texas where he was a standout running back and won a NCAA National Championship on the 2005 team. His college career led him to becoming a 3rd Round Draft Pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2008 NFL Draft. Jamaal is currently the Chiefs all-time career leader in rushing yards, a four time Team MVP, and is widely considered one of the best players in the NFL. Further, Jamaal is the NFL's all-time career leader in yards per carry with a 5.5 average, ranking ahead of all-time greats Jim Brown (5.2) and Barry Sanders (5.0).

Jamaal was in the third grade when he discovered that he had a learning disability. Through his special education classes Jamaal went on field trips to Special Olympics events and then ultimately competed and thrived in track and field. His involvement with Special Olympics continues to this day as he serves as a Global Ambassador for the movement.

Joe Haden Corner Back, Cleveland Browns

Biography: Born Joseph Walter Haden III, Native of Fort Washington, Md., where he attended Friendly High School - a four-year starter at quarterback who set a Maryland public school record with 7,371 career passing yards. As a senior he led his team to the Class 3A state football title with a 14-0 record. Joe started for his school’s basketball team that won a state title. He played college football for the University of Florida, was recognized as a unanimous All-American, and was a member of a BCS National Championship team. He was selected by the Browns in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft as the 7th overall pick. On December 27, 2013, Haden was voted to his first Pro Bowl Selection. Joe is the eldest of five boys, his brother Josh was a running back for Boston College, his brother Jordan is a safety for University of Toledo and his brother Jonathan is a running back for University of Arizona. His brother Jacob is a Special Olympic athlete. Jacob competes in the 100 meters race and bocce.

Engagement: In 2015, Joe was recognized as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador at the NFL Super Bowl XLIX media day in Phoenix, Arizona. During the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX media day, Joe teamed up with Special Olympics Athlete, Vanessa Robles, and participated in media row promoting the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America and the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015. Joe has attended many Special Olympics Maryland events over the years as his brother Jacob participates in athletics and bocce. Joe attended his first USA Games in 2014 in Princeton, New Jersey where he witness many athletes from North America participate in basketball and flag football. Joe will focus on increasing the number of athletes that participate in flag football, promote healthy athletes and continue to recruit and encourage the public to join the Special Olympics Unified movement.

Julen Lopetegui, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Julen started out as a goalkeeper at La Liga club Real Sociedad he then moved to Castilla and Las Palmas before finally moving to Real Madrid. Here he went on loan to Las Palmas He became one of the best Spanish goalkeepers of the 1990’s, and made his debut with the Spanish national team during this time also. He was part of the Spanish squad that played at the 1994 World Cup in the USA. After that he went to Barcelona where he stayed three seasons before going to Rayo Vallecano where in 2002, he decided to retire from professional football.

Lopetegui then became a very successful coach. He has coached Rayo Vallecano, Real Madrid Castilla, Spain Under-19, Under-20 and Spain Under-21 with considerable success and then finally with Porto FC. Currently he is Spain’s National Coach which has now successfully qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He became a Special Olympics Ambassador in March 2018.



Li Na

Biography: Li Na was born February 26, 1982 in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Growing up, Li Na exceled at playing badminton before being introduced to tennis at the age of 8. She turned pro in 1999 but in 2002 she decided to put her tennis career on hold to study at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, where she completed her bachelor's degree in journalism. In 2004, Li Na returned to tennis and by the following year she broke into the WTA top 50 for the first time. In 2010, she ascended to the top 10 after winning several high-profile matches against all-time players including Venus Williams, Carolina Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova.

In 2011,Li Na experienced her first major breakthrough with a remarkable win at the French Open. By doing so Li Na made history and her popularity throughout China soared. She became the first Chinese national, male or female, ever to win a tennis Grand Slam title in singles, ensuring her place in the sport's history. January 2014, Li Na defied expectations again with another Grand Slam win at the Australian Open. She is the first Asian Australian Open champion and fourth woman to win the title after being match point down.

Her feats have sparked a major growth in the total population of tennis players in Asia, earning her the reputation as the region's tennis pioneer and trailblazer. 
300x200-Maria Menounos

Maria Menounos, Special Olympics Ambassador

Maria is a New York Times best-selling author, host of E! News, host on Sirius XM, AfterBuzz TV CEO, was a Unified Relay Across America Co-Captain and is a Special Olympics Global Ambassador.   She has interviewed every U.S. president since Clinton. Her ground-breaking conversational style of hosting led her, at age 22, to become the youngest to host "Entertainment Tonight." as well as report for "NBC Nightly News" and "the Today Show". She's starred in movies, is a 2 time NY Times best-selling author and CEO of the largest online broadcast network, AfterBuzz TV.

Although Maria Menounos's announcement as a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics didn’t happen until March 2015 which was announced on Live! With Kelly and Michael, Maria has been an Ambassador since November of 2014. Maria served as a co-captain for the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America. She lead the Special Olympics celebrity campaign for the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 by engaging the Hollywood community to support more than 6500 athletes from 165 counties who competed at the Summer Games. In her role, Maria will continue to pave a way for acceptance and inclusion for all athletes throughout the world.

Michael Phelps, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Michael Phelps is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished athletes of all time. With more gold medals, world championships and world records than any other swimmer in history, Phelps used his $1MM performance bonus from Speedo to create the Michael Phelps Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on growing the sport of swimming and promoting healthy and active lifestyles, especially for children.


Nadia Comaneci, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

At the 1976 Olympics, a 14-year-old Romanian captured the hearts and minds of the world with her daring and perfection, earning seven perfect tens, three gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. She returned home to Romania to a heroines welcome. Four years later, at the 1980 Olympics, Comaneci earned two more gold medals and two silver to bring her Olympic total to 9 medals. In 1996, Comaneci was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame; and in 1999, she was honored by ABC News and Ladies Home Journal as one of the 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century. In April 1996, Comaneci married American Olympic Champion, Bart Conner, and they have one son, Dylan Paul. Together, they own several gymnastics-related business interests including the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy. Comaneci is also involved in a variety of charities, serving on the Special Olympics International, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Laureus Sports For Good Foundation Board of Directors. Additionally, she has continued to support dozens of charities in her homeland of Romania, including the Nadia Comaneci Children’s Hospital in Bucharest. 
300x200-Nancy O'Dell

Nancy O'Dell,Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Emmy-award winning journalist and host of the entertainment news program, Entertainment Tonight. She is a summa cum laude de graduate of Clemson University where she also received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities. As a published author of 3 best-selling parenting books and the creator of the children's app series, Little Ashby, Nancy truly believes in the importance of nurturing time with family. Recently adding designer to her list of credits, Nancy will be releasing a women's clothing line with EVINE Live in September 2015. Nancy also established the non-profit organization, Betty's Battle which supports ALS research in association with the MDA.
300x200 Nicole Scherzinger with Special Olympics athletes

Nicole Scherzinger, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

International recording artist and television presenter on the X Factor in Great Britain, Nicole Scherzinger, was announced as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador to support the movement and promote A Very Special Christmas music. Special Olympics Great Britain athletes, Sophie Dalgish, Tom Hawkins and Robbie Cahill, sat alongside the former Pussycat Doll as she signed copies of her the A Very Special Christmas ICON CD which includes her recording of 'O Holy Night', which was produced by award winning producer, David Foster. 

Speaking about the single, she revealed: "I recorded the song here in London and I'm really thrilled about how it came out because it's for a good cause, and it's my favorite Christmas song. I was joined by my friend, Special Olympics athlete, Greg Silvester and his family in the recording studio.” 

Nicole has a personal connection and shared the experience of growing up closely with her aunt, who has Down syndrome. Nicole shared her excitement and passion for the Special Olympics movement announcing on Twitter “I’m really excited to have been announced as a Global Ambassador for @SpecialOlympics #blessed#keepshining!” she wrote.


Padraig Harrington, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

As a three time major champion, Padraig's playing record speaks for itself. Having won the 2007 British Open Championship at Carnoustie in a dramatic play-off, Padraig became the first European since 1906 to defend his British Open title a year later at Royal Birkdale. A month later he won the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, becoming the first European to win back-to-back major championships. The three major wins in the space of 13 months helped him to reach a career high of 3rd in the World Rankings and earned him the European Tour, PGA Tour and PGA of America Player of the Year awards.

In addition to his three major wins, Padraig won the 2006 European Tour Order of Merit title, was the first Irish winner of the Irish Open for 25 years in 2007 and has a total of 21 other professional individual victories to his name around the world. As an amateur, in addition to representing Ireland at all levels he was a member of the GB&I Walker Cup team on three occasions. Since turning professional, in addition to representing Ireland in both the Dunhill Cup and World Cup events numerous times, winning the latter on US soil in 1997, he has been a member of the European Ryder Cup team six times to date, including four victories.
Ricardo Montaner

Ricardo Montaner, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Ricardo Montaner is an Argentine-Venezuelan singer and songwriter. Starting his career in the early 1980s, he has released more than19 albums with numerous successful singles. Ricardo Montaner has sold over 25 million albums, and keeps breaking records in arenas and theaters all over the world.

He and his wife founded The Foundation La Ventana de los Cielos – Window of Heavens – in Florida and in Rosario, Argentina. La Ventana de los Cielos is dedicated to assist children with special needs and their families through specialized activities and therapies that help improve quality of life. Montaner is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2007. This year Montaner was appointed Health Champion by the Pan American Health Organization, participating for the fourth time in the Vaccination Week Program in the Americas.

Montaner is married to Marlene Rodriguez Miranda and has five children. His sons Alejandro, Héctor , Ricky and Mauricio are also singers. His daughter Evaluna, the youngest of the clan, is also an actress, currently starring in a Nickelodeon soap opera. Montaner lives with his family in Miami Beach, Florida.

Scott Hamilton, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Scott Hamilton's personal background is one of the most inspiring in the history of sports; a remarkable story of courage and determination that make him a champion in the truest sense of the word.

 Six weeks after his birth on August 28, 1958, Scott was adopted by Ernest and Dorothy Hamilton, both professors at Bowling Green University in Ohio. When Scott was about two, he contracted a mysterious illness that caused him to stop growing. For the next six years, doctors prescribed a variety of unsuccessful treatments. After his illness was mistakenly diagnosed as cystic fibrosis and he was given six months to live, the Hamilton's took their son to the Children's Hospital in Boston where his ailment began to correct itself by special diet and moderate exercise. Soon he felt well enough to watch his older sister Susan on an ice-skating outing and thereafter decided to try skating himself. 

From the beginning, Scott skated with great confidence and uncommon speed. He began taking formal lessons, joined a hockey team and within a year, his illness disappeared and he began growing again, although he would always be considerably smaller than his peers. His miraculous recovery was attributed to the effects of intense physical activity in the cold atmosphere of the rink. At thirteen he began training with Pierre Brunet, an Olympic gold medal winner. 

Over the next several years his continued dedication began to pay off. By 1980 he was good enough to capture third place in national competition and win a berth on the U.S. Olympic Team. In addition, he earned a solid fifth-place finish at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid. Then in March of 1981, Scott's dazzling free-skating program at the World Championships enabled him to win the title, only the second American to do so since 1970. Later the same year, he took an individual gold medal at the first Skate America tournament and was voted Male Athlete of The Year by the United States Olympic Committee. 

Scott held on to his national and world titles in 1982 and 1983. As the winner of sixteen consecutive championships after the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, he went on to win the gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo. In 1984, Scott was also awarded a U.S. Olympic Spirit Award. A month later, he went on to score a stunning victory at the World Championships in Ottawa, Canada. Shortly thereafter, in April of 1984, Scott turned professional after being inundated with offers from the major ice shows. 

1997 was not meant to be just another typical year in the life of Olympic Champion Scott Hamilton. What clearly would have been a routine twelve months filled with numerous professional world-class competitions, network television specials, and touring the country in STARS ON ICE, a production Hamilton conceived and co-founded eleven years ago, was interrupted when on March 18, Scott was diagnosed with testicular cancer. But, convinced that he could overcome the disease, Scott was back on the ice after twelve weeks of successful chemotherapy treatments, followed by an equally successful surgery, and just six weeks of recuperation. 

In March of 1988, Scott Hamilton received perhaps the second most important award of his career from the International Skating Union. This institutional governing body of all world amateur competitions presented him their highest recognition of merit, the Jacques Favart Award. A most prestigious honor, it is only sporadically given and, at the time of its presentation to Scott, he became the award's first solo male recipient. In July of 1990, to add to a remarkable list of achievements which includes over 50 titles, awards and honors, Scott was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. In that same year, he also became a privileged member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. 

Vanessa Williams, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Vanessa Williams is one of the most respected and multi-faceted performers in entertainment today. She has conquered the musical charts, Broadway, television and motion pictures. She has sold over 15 million albums worldwide and she has achieved critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film and on television. Her albums have earned multiple Grammy nominations and have yielded such classic hits as “the Academy Award-winning single “Colors of the Wind,” from Disney’s “Pocahontas.” On Broadway, Vanessa was nominated for a Tony Award for the 2002 revival of “Into the Woods.” Most recently, Vanessa has achieved remarkable success on television with her work on ABC’s “Desparate Housewives” and “Ugly Betty,” where she earned three Emmy nominations. In December 2010, the International Press Academy honored Vanessa with their prestigious Mary Pickford Award for her career achievements over the past 27 years. In 2007, Vanessa achieved a career pinnacle, with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her accomplishments as a performer. Her charitable endeavors are many and varied, embracing and supporting such organizations as Special Olympics and many others. 

Vladimir ‘Vanja’ Grbic

Biography: Vladimir 'Vanja' Grbic is a former Serbian Volleyball player and a member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame. Grbic is a two time Olympian medalist with a gold medal from the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and a bronze medal from the 1996 Games in Atlanta. His international victories include a silver medal at the 1998 World Championship and a gold medal at the 2001 European Championship. In addition to his many medals, Grbic has been declared the Best Sportsman of the Year, the Best Athlete in Yugoslavia, the Best European Volleyball Player, and the Best Volleyball Player of the Century in Yugoslavia. Within his community, Vanja is the vice president of the Volleyball Federation of Serbia and is a member of the FIVB Committee of Development.

Engagement: Grbic has been supporting Special Olympics in his native Serbia since 2010 as the host of several Volleyball events. In 2011, he attended the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. Since this time, he has hosted Special Olympics athletes at various volleyball clinics and programs. Grbic is now an active Ambassador for Special Olympics with a primary focus on increasing the availability of global volleyball programs for Special Olympics athletes. Read about Grbic's role as a Special Olympics Ambassador at the recent FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship.

Yang Lan, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Ms. Yang is one of China’s leading broadcast journalists and media entrepreneurs. She is the Co-founder and Chairperson of Sun Media Group and Sun Culture Foundation. Ms. Yang won national fame in 1990 by hosting “Zheng Da Variety Show” on CCTV with a weekly audience of 200 million. Her renowned interview programme “Yang Lan One On One” has gained popularity with Chinese audiences across the world. Her women’s talk show “Her Village” has made great impact to the empowerment of women. In 1999, Ms.Yang founded Sun Media Group with her husband Dr. Bruno Wu. Today, Sun Media Group is one of China’s leading private media groups with a portfolio of assets that includes many media brands. Since 2006, Sun Media Group has developed “Her Village Media Ltd,” an integrated communication and marketing company targeting at the rising urban women population. In 2005, Ms.Yang founded the Sun Culture Foundation. The Foundation has played a prominent role in promoting education for underprivileged children and providing institutional support for the growth of China’s civil society. She also serves as the fi rst goodwill ambassador for UNICEF in China. She most recently received the National Women Award in 2010, the top prize for women’s achievement in China. 

Yang Yang, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Yang Yang (A) is a former Chinese National Short Track Speed Skating athlete, Winter Olympics Gold Medalist, current IOC Member, Chairperson of Athlete Commission of Chinese Olympic Committee, National People's Congress Representative of China, Vice Chairperson of China Youth Federation, and Founder of Feiyang Ice Skating Center. She is Team China’s first gold medalist in Winter Olympics, a three-time Olympians and five-time Olympic medalist with two gold, two silver and one bronze. As a winner of 59 world champion titles throughout her 23 years of professional career, she still holds the record of the most world champion titles in China. After she retired from ice rink in 2006, Yang Yang has devoted to philanthropy and established Champion Foundation in 2011, which commits to the sports education for children and the Athlete Career Program development in China.

Engagement: Yang Yang was announced as a Global Ambassador on Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day in 2013. Yang Yang traveled to PyeongChang, South Korea for the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games, where she participated in a number of events and skated with Special Olympics athletes and fellow speed skater Apolo Ohno. Yang has been engaged with Special Olympics throughout China. 

Yao Ming, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Yao Ming began his basketball career playing for the Shanghai Sharks, but after leading them to a victory in the CBA championship at the age of 22, he became the No. 1 drafted player in the NBA. During his career, Yao Ming has been selected as an NBA all-star in all eight of his seasons, and through his hard work has developed into one of the best centers in the NBA, earning All-NBA recognition five times. In addition, as a key player on the Chinese national basketball team, Yao Ming has played in 3 Olympic Games from 2000 to 2008, leading the national team to its best record in China’s history. Through his great influence as a worldwide superstar, Yao has become a bridge between China and America. He has shown the West the wisdom, honesty and diligence of the Chinese people and thereby brought China closer to the rest of the world. Moreover, Yao Ming has been proactively involved in charity and public welfare activities including his founding of the “Yao Foundation” in May of 2008. This foundation is aimed at helping children find warmth and hope in life. 

Yuna Kim, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

"Queen on Ice," Yuna Kim is the national figure skating icon in Korea. South Korea first sat up and paid attention to Yuna Kim during the 2004-2005 season when she placed second at the Junior Grand Prix Final, earning Korea's first international medal in the history of figure skating. Making her senior international debut in 2006, Yuna Kim came to prominence when she claimed two gold medals in a row at the 2006-2007 season and 2007-2008 Grand Prix Finals. Since then, Yuna Kim has been called the perfect skater by figure skating experts around the world. At the 2007 Cup of Russia, Yuna Kim set the world record (133.70 points) for the ladies long program with perfect techniques and presentation skills. 

At the 2009 World Championships, Yuna Kim topped her own world record in the short program with 76.12 points and won with an overall score of 207.71 points, the world's best record. Yuna Kim became the only one who earned more than 8 points in Program Component Scores among world figure skaters. Kim broke the world record again with a total of total of 228.56 points, en-route to winning the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. On July 12, 2010, UNICEF appointed the international skating sensation Yuna Kim as its newest Goodwill Ambassador. She is also appointed as an Ambassador for the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year. In October 2010, Kim was honored with the highly coveted Sportswoman of the Year Award by the Women’s Sports Foundation. Kim has also been named a Special Olympics Global Ambassador and a Goodwill Ambassador for the Special Olympics World Summer Games PyeongChang 2013.

Zhou Xun, Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Born Oct. 18 1974 in Quzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China, Zhou Xun is an actress, singer, and philanthropic environmentalist. Zhou Xun has also been an ardent advocate for philanthropic and environmental causes, hoping to use her public influence to spread “green ideas” and help those in need. In 2010, she was named the 2010 Laureate of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 's Champions of the Earth along with ten other environmentalists, becoming the first entertainer in the world to receive this honor. In 2011, Zhou was inducted into the World Economic Forum's “Forum of Young Global Leaders”, once again as the first Asian entertainer to receive this honor. She was also selected as the 2011 Ambassador for the China-Euro Youth Exchange Year. In 2014, the French Government honored Zhou with The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters), in recognition of her achievement and contribution in film, environment and culture communication fields. In July of the same year,Zhou Xun officially launched the “ONE NIGHT” charity project, each year raising awareness for a different group of children with special needs through concerts, documentary short films and other similar mediums while also inviting fellow celebrities to take to the stage and speak up for said children, hoping to bring them more respect, understanding, and prospects for a better future.