Unified Sports Build Lasting Partnerships
By Andrew Royal, 17, and A.J. Hellickson, 16
Scholastic News Online Student Reporters

Global Youth Summit participant Andrew Royal (left) interviews Katie Anderson (center), 28, and her unified partner Missy Allen of Special Olympics Mississippi. (Photo: A.J. Hillickson)
June 24—Special Olympics athlete Katie Anderson of Mississippi, 28, loves many sports, but sailing is favorite. Much of that is thanks to her unified partner, Missy Kennedy-Allen, who came with her to the Special Olympic World Games in Dublin, Ireland, this week. Unified sports pair Special Olympians and Community partners on teams like basketball, softball, and sailing. The concept of unified sports is to breakdown barriers and build friendships with Special Olympics athletes and their communities.

Katie and Missy competed in the triangle competition at the East Pier, in Dublin today. Missy's patience and compassion in working with mentally disabled athletes was apparent in how well she and Katie operate as a team.

"I love Missy and sailing the best!" Katie told Scholastic News Online.

Katie has been in Special Olympics for seven years. She began with bowling and basketball. Her coach, Ron Mucha, of Mississippi, introduced her to Missy.

"I met Katie because Ron introduced us last year," Missy said. "Katie competed in Maryland with another unified partner,so this is our first year together." She said that Katie won a gold medal at the World Games in 1999.

She is sailing a boat named Firefly in this year's event.

"It is like a very fast surfboard," Katie said.