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Crew SC & Special Olympics partner for MLS Works initiative

Columbus Crew SC today announced that it has partnered with Special Olympics Ohio - Franklin County to participate in an MLS WORKS initiative, allowing local Special Olympics athletes and partners to travel from Ohio to Harrison, New Jersey this weekend for a Unified soccer match held at Red Bull Arena immediately following Crew SC's Saturday contest against the Red Bulls. The event is being overseen in part by Crew SC's Give Forward program, which is sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance.

The match will showcase the Unified Sports exchange program that is the cornerstone of a partnership between MLS and Special Olympics. Through the Unified Sports soccer exchange program, Unified soccer teams from MLS cities travel to other MLS markets to compete in exhibition matches with their Special Olympics counterparts in that MLS market. Unified matches are scheduled in conjunction with MLS club matches, providing MLS fans with an opportunity to witness first-hand the talents and abilities of Special Olympics soccer players. Special Olympics Unified Sports brings people with and without intellectual disabilities together, as teammates, fostering inclusion through sports.

Special Olympics Ohio - Franklin County is slated to have eight athletes and four partners travel to Harrison to compete in the match. The match is seven-a-side, with four athletes and three partners on the field at one time for each team. Columbus Crew SC is set to cover the events on its social media platforms with additional content available on ColumbusCrewSC.com over the weekend.

“On behalf of Crew SC, I want to wish our Ohio Special Olympics athletes the best of luck in their Unified soccer match at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night,” said Columbus Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “Our players and staff know that it is a tremendous honor to wear the Black & Gold and we’re humbled that these athletes will represent our club in the matchup. We’ll all be pulling for them on Saturday and we’re thrilled to have them on our team.”

The Special Olympics athletes set to compete in the contest at Red Bull Arena range in age from 16-53 years old, and the Unified partners range in age from 12-46 years old.

“We are honored to represent Crew SC and the great state of Ohio in this match,” said Franklin County's Special Olympics Director Ryan Phillips. “Our athletes love competition and this is the biggest stage any have been on. We are prepared, excited and understand this game transcends soccer. Special Olympics athletes break through stereotypes every day, and we look forward to showing MLS fans our abilities Saturday.”

Special Olympics Ohio - Franklin County, a sports training and competition program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has more than 500 athletes and 150 volunteer coaches. Sixteen different sports are offered annually and all are offered at no cost to athletes.

For the Special Olympics Ohio - Franklin County roster for Saturday's match is below:

The Special Olympics Ohio - Franklin County roster for Saturday's match is below:

Special Olympics Athletes

Last

First

Age

Hometown

Brunney, Jr.

Hugh

53

Columbus

DeLong

Lynn

16

Columbus

Elman

Aaron

27

Bexley

Gray

Shanae

30

Columbus

Huffman

Tim

28

Canal Winchester

McFadden

David

27

Reynoldsburg

Smith

Bob

35

Columbus

Thornton

Ricko’

23

Columbus

Unified Partners

Last

First

Age

Hometown

Beymer

Alan

39

Columbus

Phillips

Baylie

12

Reynoldsburg

Phillips

Ryan

39

Tiffin

Vaughan

Peter

46

Columbus

Ahead of the MLS WORKS event, Crew SC takes the field against the Red Bulls in a contest between Eastern Conference sides currently separated by just one point in the standings. The MLS match is set to kick-off at 7:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, October 3 (Time Warner Cable SportsChannel / audio on ColumbusCrewSC.com, La Mega 103.1 FM).


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