WNBA star receives special honor at Homewood-Flossmoor High School
By Terrance Peacock Correspondent February 7, 2014 5:46PM
Elena Delle Donne, of the Chicago Sky, poses for a picture with members of the Homewood-Flossmoor varsity boy's basketball team on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. | Terrance Peacock~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 9, 2014 2:12AM
More than 500 students at Homewood-Flossmoor High School filled the gym Friday to witness a “special” announcement from former NCAA All-American and reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne, of the Chicago Sky.
In front of a packed assembly of students and faculty, plus live streaming of students from around the world, Delle Donne officially was announced as the newest Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics.
Founded in 1968, the Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sports by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide.
Delle Donne joined reigning NBA Rookie of the Year and NBA All-Star Damian Lillard, NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and many others among those who share the title of Special Olympics Global Ambassadors.
“I’ve always been working with the Special Olympics, so to get this role now is really special to me,” Delle Donne said. “I really feel like it would give me a platform to speak to people and raise awareness to how special the special needs community can be.”
Delle Donne said her sister is the main reason why she wanted to be involved with the Special Olympics.
“My sister was born with special needs, she’s deaf, blind and has a lot, but ever since I was born she has meant so much to me,” Delle Donne said. “Just spending time with her peers has always been such a great opportunity, so the Special Olympics combines that along with sports, which is another thing that I’m so passionate about.”
As part of her role as ambassador, Delle Donne will work to promote basketball development within Special Olympics, particularly among girls.
After her announcement, Delle Donne answered questions from Homewood-Flossmoor students, as well as questions from students around the country through live streaming video online. Delle Donne also hosted a unified basketball clinic with the help of Homewood-Flossmoor’s nationally ranked girls varsity basketball team.
Peter Wheeler, chief of strategic properties for the Special Olympics, said Delle Donne was a perfect fit for the organization because of her growing popularity in the world of basketball.
“We look for people who are very accomplished in their field and can bring profile and awareness to Special Olympics because of their fame,” Wheeler said. “We need someone like Elena who is not only one of the best female basketball players in the world, but also has a passion about Special Olympics.”
Delle Donne said with her new position with the Special Olympics, her role stretches much further than the basketball court.
“I want to continue to get more athletes to play, but not only that, I want to raise awareness to the general population about how incredible these individuals are and how they can make such a great impact on all of our lives,” Delle Donne said.