SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Three New Yorkers who have gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic to support people with intellectual disabilities will be honored by Special Olympics New York at a gala celebration this Friday evening in Saratoga.

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 68,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers.

“Our honorees have shown incomparable vision, dedication and leadership to help people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other intellectual disabilities live a better life, strengthening our communities and our state,” said Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman. “They do more than talk the talk. Senator Mannion, Maureen O’Brien and Ceylane Myers-Ruff are true game changers who are helping to make New York the most inclusive state in the nation.”

A Night of Champions will be held FRIDAY, JULY 16 from 6-9:30 p.m. at Saratoga National Golf Club, 458 Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs.

Working media are welcome to attend. For others, tickets are available here. All proceeds are tax-deductible and benefit Special Olympics New York athletes in the Capital Region.

The 2021 Game Changers who will be honored at the event are:

Senator John Mannion (D-Onondaga/Cayuga), chair of the New York State Senate’s first-ever Committee on Developmental Disabilities. Elected to his first term in 2020, after a long career as a public school teacher, he has become a powerful voice in the state Legislature for people with disabilities of all kinds and in particular people with developmental disabilities.

Earlier this year, Senator Mannion announced $150,000 in state funding to help expand the Special Olympics New York’s Unified Champion Schools program, which uses sports as a catalyst to provide opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities to compete alongside one another. Working in partnership with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, the program blends educational-based programming and high school athletics to promote inclusiveness, inspire youth leadership and encourage whole school engagement.

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