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    The Special Olympics—Lake County Ohio Dance Team (Deepwood Dancers) applied and were accepted to compete in a team dance performance representing the USA at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, which were hosted in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 14-21, 2019. While the Deepwood Dancers knew it was the largest humanitarian sports event in 2019, what they didn’t know was that at the conclusion of the World Games they would get to meet the Chairman of Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, and that a proclamation would be signed so that dance is now an official Special Olympics international sport. 

    The Deepwood Dancers (listed below) are unique beyond their talents; individuals on the team have various developmental disabilities and their age span is 16—61. They embody diversity. 

    • Camryn Byrne 
    • Anthony (Tony) Cervella 
    • Lani Engel 
    • Kathy Habat 
    • Kelleen (Kelly) Kinnaird 
    • Sheryl Kintop 
    • Charles (Charlie) Schulz, Jr. 
    • Michael (Mike) Sukalac 

    LCBDD/Deepwood Recreational Specialists Ellana Fishwick and Kara Shubert, along with dance team choreographers and Coach Tana Habat were in lock step with the Deepwood Dancers the entire time, making sure that they were ready to perform their best in the competitions.

    Amongst the more than 7,500 athletes   representing 170 countries in 24 sports, the Deepwood Dancers had stellar performances and won the following medals:

    •  Lani won a gold medal in the solo competition
    • Charlie and Sheryl won a silver medal in the duo competition
    • The Deepwood Dance team won a silver medal in the team competition

    “The Deepwood Dancers were ecstatic about the opportunity to represent Lake County, Cleveland, Ohio, and the United States of America at the Special Olympics World Games,” said Tana Habat. “We expected excitement, but we saw so much more – friendship, courage and perseverance beyond our expectations.” 

    The Deepwood dance team was formed in 2017 to help continue the movement to make dance an official Special Olympic competitive sport. They are a relatively new addition to the Lake County Special Olympics program and have been performing across Lake County the past two and a half years to help raise awareness for individuals with special needs. 

    “We want to thank all who made donations and contributed time and energy to make this possible,” added Tana. “This was an amazing way to show support from our community and be part of the beginning of the movement to include dance in the array of Special Olympic talents.” 


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