Throughout my 20-year career in WWE, I've worked with an incredible group of athletes that travel the world, headline major events and have tens of thousands of fans cheer (and sometimes boo) them. Their charisma, athleticism, larger-than-life personalities and ability to connect with an audience is incredible. But as great as they are, none can compare to another group of athletes that I've been working with lately, whose boundless energy, passion and dedication to training cannot be matched. These athletes are the true superstars.
WWE has supported Special Olympics for decades. I recently got involved and was immediately drawn to and inspired by the Special Olympics athletes. Over the past two years, I have participated in the Opening Ceremonies for Special Olympics USA Games, attended the Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games and made various appearances in support of local Special Olympics programs around the world. But no matter how much I could ever give, I get so much more in return from the athletes.
At every event, it is a joy to see their enthusiasm, courage, determination and sportsmanship as they are an inspiration to me and to all of the WWE Superstars and Divas. They motivate us to work harder and above all, to have fun while doing so. To be able to work with individuals who inspire everyone by their dedication and perseverance is an amazing testament to the human spirit. They have big dreams and I am honored to, in a small way, help those dreams become a reality.
This year, I am especially proud to serve as a co-captain of the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America: a once in a lifetime opportunity for America to unite to build communities of respect and inclusion for everyone, especially people with intellectual disabilities.
Over the course of 46 days, in a hand-to-hand exchange, you can carry the Special Olympics Flame of Hope across the country and help deliver it to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics World Games. The Unified Relay's three simultaneous routes are visiting all 50 states between May 26 and July 10. I was proud to be a part of the kick-off event in my hometown of Miami to send the torch on its journey and I hope each of you will help carry or cheer on the torch when it comes through your town.
And when the Flame of Hope reaches its destination, I will be there, serving as a WWE Goodwill Ambassador for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, taking place in Los Angeles from July 25 - August 2. Nearly 7,000 athletes will represent 177 countries and compete in 25 Olympic-style sporting events with the support of 3,000 coaches, 30,000 volunteers and as many as 500,000 spectators.
Whether throughout the course of the Unified Relay or at the World Games, I'll be cheering these inspiring athletes on every step of the way and I encourage you to discover for yourself what I've come to know: that being a part of Special Olympics has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.