A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Three NKyians named to Team Kentucky for 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle

From Special Olympics of Kentucky

Three Northern Kentuckians – an athlete and two coaches — have been named to participate as part of Team Kentucky at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, July 1-6, 2018.

Two will be part of the Team Kentucky artistic gymnastics effort and one will lead the swimming delegation.

Danielle Blakeney, of Erlanger, is one of Kentucky’s most decorated Special Olympics athletes at the USA and World Games level. She competed in artistic gymnastics at the 2010 USA Games in Lincoln, Neb., and in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey. She was also part of the Special Olympics USA rhythmic gymnastics teams at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens in 2011 and Los Angeles in 2015.

In 2010, Blakeney won gold in the rhythmic all-around as well as in ball, clubs and ribbon. She also earned a silver in hoop. At the 2014 USA Games, Blakeney claimed three artistic gymnastics gold, including in beam, vault and floor exercise and won silver in the all-around. At the 2011 World Games, she won three gold medals, including the all-around, one silver and a bronze. In Los Angeles in 2015 she added another all-around gold in rhythmic gymnastics, as well as gold in the ball, silver in ribbon and bronze in clubs.

Danielle Blakeney

Blakeney, 26, has been a Special Olympics athlete for 18 years and has trained in artistic gymnastics for six. She has also competed in cheerleading and track and field. She is an excellent public speaker and has appeared many times on behalf of Special Olympics Kentucky.

Coleen Blakeney, of Erlanger, will be the assistant gymnastics coach for Team Kentucky. She has been a Special Olympics coach for 18 years. She has been coaching artistic gymnastics for seven, and has coached rhythmic gymnastics for 14 years. A USA Gymnastics and AAU certified professional coach, Blakeney leads the Special Olympics Spirit Gymnastics team in northern Kentucky. She has also coached Special Olympics track and field and cheerleading.

In addition to her Special Olympics coaching work, Blakeney has coached elementary school and local youth organizations cheerleading squads. She is the mother of Team Kentucky gymnast Danielle Blakeney.

This will be Coleen Blakeney’s first coaching experience at a USA or World Games. She works for Meijer.

Debbie Ogden, of Fort Wright, will be the swimming coach for Team Kentucky. She has been a Special Olympics coach for 11 years, but has been working with people with intellectual disabilities for nearly three decades. Ogden coaches the Northern Kentucky Dolphins swim program during the Special Olympics Kentucky swim season. In addition to Special Olympics coaching, Ogden has also coached the Ludlow/Bromley swim/dive team, the St. Agnes School track and field team and the St. Agnes School fifth grade volleyball team in Fort Wright.

This will be Ogden’s first coaching experience at a USA or World Games. She is the Senior Executive Assistant in the Development Department at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati.

In all, there will be 43 athletes and 17 coaches taking part in the USA Games with Team Kentucky. Eight sports – artistic gymnastics, basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, swimming and track and field – are represented by Team Kentucky.

“This is one of the most exciting parts of the cycle for our program and our athletes,” said Special Olympics Kentucky President and CEO Trish Mazzoni. “Not only is competing at the USA Games a tremendous honor for our athletes, but it is an incredible growth experience for them as well. The opportunity to spend a week or more in a new city, surrounded by the energy and excitement of so many fellow athletes is a life-changing experience. So many times we have seen it make amazing changes in the athletes who have been able to attend.”

The total cost of sending Team Kentucky to the 2018 USA Games is expected to approach $100,000. For information about how you can help sponsor the team or to make a donation, contact Trish Mazzoni at 502-695-8222 or tmazzoni@soky.org.

For more information about Team Kentucky or about the USA Games, contact Special Olympics Kentucky Director of Communications and External Relations Mark Buerger at 502-695-8222 or mbuerger@soky.org.

The 2018 USA Games are the fourth such games in Special Olympics history. Past USA Games were held in 2006 in Ames, Iowa; 2010 in Lincoln, Neb.; and in 2014 in New Jersey. Athletes will stay on the University of Washington campus during the 2018 Games and most of the competition venues will be at the University.

The 2018 USA Games will bring together more than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia to compete in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports. Thousands of volunteers and spectators will also take part in the Games. The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will celebrate the Special Olympics movement and its 50th anniversary; promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport; and showcase athletes from throughout the U.S. and the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. The 2018 USA Games will also highlight Special Olympics’ work in sport, education, health and community-building.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

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One Comment

  1. Wow thats awesome! Congrats Blakeney. I will be sponsoring this for sure!

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