he 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games are just days away! Four Kentucky athletes have been selected to compete as part of Special Olympics USA at the upcoming Games in Los Angeles. Bowler Amanda Browning of Shepherdsville will join gymnasts Danielle Blakeney and Lee Dockins and swimmer Chris Willis on the USA delegation at the Games. Blakeney, Dockins and Willis all have previous World Games experience, while Browning will be competing at that level for the first time. All four were part of Team Kentucky at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games.
The Games get underway with the Opening Ceremony on Saturday, July 25. For the first time ever the Ceremonies will be carried live on World Games partner ESPN beginning at 6 pm (Eastern Time). The Ceremony will include performances by Stevie Wonder, O.A.R., Avril Lavigne, Cody Simpson, Nicole Scherzinger, J Balvin and more. There will also be appearances by Jimmy Kimmel, Eva Longoria, Lauren Potter, Michael Phelps, Yao Ming, Greg Louganis, Stephanie McMahon and many more.
Events will begin on Sunday, July 26. The Games close on August 2.
|Danielle Blakeney, 23, of Erlanger will compete in rhythmic gymnastics at the Games. She is a veteran of higher level Special Olympics competition, having been part of the USA delegation at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, and Team Kentucky for the 2010 and 2014 USA Games. In Athens, Blakeney won the all-around competition in rhythmic gymnastics, amassing three Golds with one Silver and one Bronze. Last June at the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey, Blakeney earned three Gold and two Silver Medals in artistic gymnastics at the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey. She dominated her division in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2010 USA Games, winning the all-around competition among her four Gold Medals and one Silver. She has been a Special Olympics athlete for 16 years and also has competed in track and field. She was named the Special Olympics Kentucky Co-Athlete of the Year for 2010.
|Amanda Browning, 31, has been a Special Olympics athlete for eight years and has bowled for all of those. She also competes in aquatics. She claimed one Gold and two Silver Medals in June at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. Her Gold came in the singles event, with the Silvers in the doubles and team competitions. She works at 200M Group. Browning enjoys artistic crafts and crafting of all kinds.|
|Lee Dockins, 27, of Russellville will compete in artistic gymnastics. She is a veteran of Special Olympics National and World Games competition and this will be her third consecutive trip to the World Summer Games. She competed in the 2007 World Summer Games in Shanghai, China, and the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. In China, Dockins won three medals with two Golds. In Athens, she won three Golds among her five medals, including taking the Gold in the all-around competition. Dockins won two Gold, two Silver and one Bronze Medal in artistic gymnastics competing as part of Team Kentucky at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey. She was part of Team Kentucky for the first USA National Games in 2006, winning five medals with one Gold. She has been a Special Olympics athlete for 18 years and participated in gymnastics at some level for 22. In addition to artistic gymnastics, Dockins, who was named Special Olympics Kentucky Athlete of the Year in 2007, competes in rhythmic gymnastics, cheerleading and bowling. She works at Logan County High School and Logan County Gymnastics.
|Chris Willis, 48, of Owensboro has been a Special Olympics athlete for 26 years and has competed in swimming for 10. He also competes in basketball, bowling and softball. This will be Willis’ second trip to the World Games. Willis also swam at the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Additionally Willis has been a two-time member of Team Kentucky at the Special Olympics USA Games. Last June, Willis earned Gold and Silver Medals to go with a fourth and a fifth place finish swimming at the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey. He was also part of the Owensboro-based basketball team that took the Silver Medal at the 2006 Special Olympics USA National Games in Ames, Iowa.|
Three veteran Special Olympics Kentucky Coaches will also be part of the Special Olympics USA Delegation in Los Angeles.
|Julie Coon will serve as an Assistant Equestrian Coach for Team USA. Coon served as the Special Olympics USA Head Equestrian Coach for the 2007 World Games in Shanghai, China, and the 2011 Games in Athens, Greece. She was also a member of the USA Equestrian coaching staff at the 2003 World Games in Dublin, Ireland. Additionally, Coon was a member of the coaching staff for Team Kentucky at the 2010 Special Olympics USA Games.|
|Mary Fehrenbach most recently served as the gymnastics coach for Team Kentucky at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, where her three gymnasts captured 15 medals, including 10 Golds. The 2011 Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year, Fehrenbach will serve as the Special Olympics USA Head Gymnastics Coach, a position she also held in 2007 and 2011. She was also a part of the USA coaching staff for the 1999 and 2013 World Games. She has served as the Team Kentucky gymnastics coach at each of the three USA Games held and her teams have won 37 medals in those Games. Having coached in both Virginia and Kentucky, she has been a Special Olympics coach for 21 years. In addition to Gymnastics, Fehrenbach coaches two Special Olympics Cheerleading squads. Her work with the Legacy Showcats in Lexington has helped pave the way for special needs cheerleading programs throughout the United States.
|Robyn Ballinger will serve as an Assistant Bowling Coach for Special Olympics USA. She most recently coached the Team Kentucky bowlers at the 2014 USA Games. Her team collected six medals, including two Golds at those Games. Ballinger has been a Special Olympics coach for 11 years, working with the Special Olympics program at Binet School. She is a US Bowling Congress Silver Level certified coach and has also served as an assistant bowling coach at Sacred Heart High School and the University of Louisville. Ballinger was also a member of the Team Kentucky coaching staff for the 2010 USA National Games, where she coached track and field athletes. Team Kentucky track and field athletes earned 10 medals at those Games. She is the youth director at Executive Strike & Spare and works at the Hope Center for Growth which serves teens with Autism.|
For more information about the athletes named to the Special Olympics USA team or the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, contact Special Olympics Kentucky President and CEO Trish Mazzoni at 800-633-7403 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.