Special Olympics New York Sending Two Teams to Special Olympics North America Softball Championship

More Than 200 Athletes and Unified Partners from US and Canada Set to Compete

Lynchburg, VA – The Long Island Yankees and Genesee Valley Splash are ready for a competition like no other: the 2022 Special Olympics North America Softball Championship. 

Held in Lynchburg, VA and hosted by Special Olympics Virginia, The Coca-Cola Company, Virginia Moose Association, Sheetz, and Lynchburg Parks and Recreation, this four-day event features 15 teams and more than 200 athletes and Unified partners, all representing states and provinces in the United States and Canada.

“We’re thrilled to send two of our best teams to this competition,” said Stacey Hengsterman, President and CEO of Special Olympics New York. “We know they will show everyone how hard teams from New York work to achieve their best.”

The Long Island Yankees will send 14 players to the championship, along with four coaches and one chaperone. Their roster includes multiple-time State Games gold medalists and Athlete Leadership Council members, plus Special Olympics Global Messenger Daniel Fletcher. In addition to being a softball player, Fletcher has competed in powerlifting twice at USA Games. He also appeared in the highly publicized Be Brave apparel campaign featuring celebrity photographer Nigel Barker.

The Genesee Valley Splash will send several athletes ranging from 18 – 40 years old, along with their coaching staff. They established their training club in 2016, though some athletes have been competing with Special Olympics as far back as the 80s. This team showed their unparalleled resiliency in 2018, when they lost a teammate on the eve of a major tournament. After a vote, every player decided to play, including the twin brother of the deceased. Since then, the team has dedicated every game to her memory.

This is the first Special Olympics North America Softball Championship since 2019; the interim years were postponed due to Covid. Teams will arrive today, compete on the 16th and 17th, and conclude with awards on the 18th.

For members of the media seeking interviews with athletes upon their return, please contact Casey Vattimo at cvattimo@nyso.org.


About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 31,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with about 250 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports, where students with and without disabilities compete as teammates. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. The organization has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.com, making it one of the most trusted charities in the business nationally. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.