Maryann Gonzalez

Lake County

Maryann Gonzalez has been part of Special Olympics Florida for 49 years, almost as long as Special Olympics Florida has existed. She’s an Athlete Leader, Health Messenger, and former Athlete of the Year. She’s a coach, volunteer, and World Games participant. In 1999, she became a Special Olympics Florida Hall of Famer. Today, she’s an Special Olympics Florida staff member working in our state office. 

“Special Olympics changed my life as soon as I became involved at 9-years-old. I feel no different now than I did then. It has always been there for me and teaches me something new every day … 

“I remember one volleyball athlete who had trouble hitting the ball over the net. She tried and tried, but it never went over. Then, it was game point at the State Games in Tampa and things changed. She had never hit the ball over the net and somehow that day, she got it over and we won the State Championship! Touches my heart to this day. It inspired me to advocate for others to have the chance to play too … 

“Special Olympics Florida made everything possible for me. If I didn’t have Special Olympics, I don’t know what I would do or where I would go. It’s part of me.” 

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As we mark 50 years of making the world a more inclusive place, we want to hear your Special Olympics Florida story. Tell us your story by sharing a favorite memory or let us know what our programs have meant to you or the impact they’ve made in your life.  TOGETHER WE CELEBRATE!