During WrestleMania Week, the WWE superstars are in full force not only preparing for the big show but also spreading joy outside the ring. That included a visit to Poinciana High School where they put a lot of smiles on faces.
WWE partnered with Special Olympics Florida to host a Special Olympics Unified basketball game on Thursday, March 30, featuring athletes from Poinciana and St. Cloud high schools at Poinciana High School in Kissimmee, near Orlando.
WWE Superstars AJ Styles, Big Show, Mark Henry, Dana Brooke, and WWE Ambassador Dana Warrior served as honorary coaches for the event, before a loud and rowdy crowd. WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel alongside WWE Announcer Greg Hamilton did the coach and player introductions and called the action from court side.
With the Special Olympics program, the main purpose is about encouraging inclusion through unified sports. Unified sports are intended to bring together those with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team, creating respect and acceptance on both sides through teamwork and sportsmanship.
Poinciana and St. Cloud were very competitive, but they also focused on having fun on the court.
Leading the home Poinciana High School team were WWE Superstar coaches Mark Henry and AJ Styles. Coaching the visiting St. Cloud High School team were WWE Superstars Dana Brooke and The Big Show along with WWE Ambassador Dana Warrior.
The teams showed great competitive spirit and sportsmanship throughout a very intense game that ended with Poinciana the victors. After the game, I caught up with the guest superstar coaches on the winning Poinciana team to get their thoughts on the game and supporting the Special Olympics Unified event.
Former WWE Champion, the Phenomenal AJ Styles, is no stranger to coaching sports, as he has three boys involved in athletics.
“When I’m there to coach my sons, I am there to encourage them to have a great time,” he said. “Basketball may not be my forte, but being a coach is all about encouraging your team and making sure everyone is having a good time,”
Of course, Styles couldn’t be more excited in helping lead his team to victory alongside fellow coach Mark Henry.
He said, “Being with Mark, coaching these kids, was a great experience. Us being WWE superstars is all about making people happy...putting smiles on faces...and I think we definitely did that here.”
The World’s Strongest Man shared his teammates sentiment, saying, “To be here supporting the Special Olympics and spreading the WWE gospel, so to say, is a great and humbling feeling.”
With Henry having kids of his own, he understands the aspect of having kids accept and respect one another, regardless of disabilities.
“If this is what it takes to get the message across, then this is what we gotta do,” Henry said.
Partnering with the Special Olympics for this event was something that was incredibly important to Henry.
“The main goal for us is about trying to lift as many spirits as we can,” he said.
Witnessing the smiles from everyone, from the athletes to the school reps to the fans in the stands, their goal that day was accomplished.
WWE in the (Orlando) Community
WWE hosted many activities designed to give back to the local community during WrestleMania Week Orlando including that Special Olympics basketball game, Englewood Neighborhood Center event, a ‘Be a STAR’ anti-bullying rally, hospital visits, a Veterans employment panel, reading challenge school reading, and Make-A-Wish party.
WWE conducted more than 20 events during WrestleMania Week. That is the most in WWE’s WrestleMania history. Because of WrestleMania, WWE also held more community-related events in the host area throughout the year, leading to the busy week.
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