The White House recently welcomed 20 members of the Special Olympics delegation, including two from Special Olympics Arizona, to congratulate and recognize them for their accomplishments at the recently held Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. The group was part of the 315-member team that represented the United States, competing in 18 of the 24 sports offered. Special Olympics USA athletes brought home 72 gold, 62 silver and 70 bronze medals, as well as 97 participation ribbons. The event marked the first time a Special Olympics team was invited to the White House after representing their country at a Special Olympics World Games event.

Tasha Crofton and her son, Sawne Rippey, were the two delegates representing Special Olympics Arizona at the White House. They were members of the Special Olympics Arizona basketball team that played in the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle and the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, with Sawne competing as a Special Olympics athlete, and Tasha competing as a Unified Partner (Unified Partners train and compete as a teammate alongside Special Olympics athletes on a Unified Sports Team.

“We are so proud of Tasha and Sawne, along with everyone from Special Olympics USA who showcased their skills in the Special Olympics World Games,” said Jamie Heckerman, CEO of Special Olympics Arizona. “It truly is a remarkable accomplishment to be recognized by the White House and an honor that will last with them a lifetime.”

President Donald Trump hosted the visit in the Oval Office on July 18, congratulating each attendee for their achievements while they represented the United States at the World Games in Abu Dhabi. Delina Rodrigues, Special Olympics USA powerlifting athlete from Pennsylvania, presented the President with a signed jersey on behalf of the entire delegation. President Trump was joined by his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Michael Pence and his wife, Second Lady Karen Pence as well as His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States.