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|Elena Delle Donne says she draws great joy from seeing athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the court together.|
Elena Delle Donne already had been named an NCAA All-American, a WNBA rookie of the year and a WNBA All-Star. On Friday, she was named a Special Olympics global ambassador.
The Chicago Sky star is set to kick off her mission of promoting acceptance, inclusion, respect and dignity for people with intellectual disabilities in a Friday special assembly at Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School in Flossmoor, Ill. Delle Donne also will participate in the upcoming NBA All-Star Game festivities in her role as ambassador.
"I'm so proud to serve as a global ambassador for Special Olympics, given their mission is so important to me," the 24-year-old Delle Donne said. "My sister Lizzie has an intellectual disability and I've always loved working with Special Olympics and being able to get on the court and see young people with and without intellectual disabilities passing the ball and playing together."
As part of her role as ambassador, Delle Donne will invite Special Olympics athletes to join her at her De11e Donne Skills Academy and will work to promote basketball development within Special Olympics, particularly among girls. Additionally, Delle Donne will participate in key initiatives for Special Olympics, including "Spread the Word to End the Word Day" on March 5 and the Motor Activities Training Program, in which her sister has been a participant. MATP provides specialized training for athletes in skills that may lead to participation in a traditional Special Olympics event.
Following Friday's assembly, Delle Donne was scheduled to host a unified basketball clinic with the Homewood-Flossmoor nationally ranked girls varsity basketball team and local Special Olympics athletes.
"Elena Delle Donne is a great addition to our Special Olympics family," said Janet Froetscher, CEO of Special Olympics International. "Our goal is to raise awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Through sports, we showcase the skills and dignity of our athletes. Elena is a powerful force that will help us deliver this mission around the world. Not only is she a highly skilled athlete, but her passion for our organization shines and I know she will help us reach many more athletes."