Partnership Will Recognize Athlete and Unified Partner

Flag football athletes and Unified partners in Collier County are now eligible to be honored by the National Football Foundation (NFF) at its annual banquet, thanks to a new partnership between Special Olympics Florida and the NFF.

One Special Olympics athlete and one Unified partner will be chosen to receive the award and attend the Foundation’s awards dinner at the Naples Sailing & Yacht Club in February. The winners will be selected based on athletics, academics and community service.

To be eligible, athletes and partners must attend a Special Olympics Florida Unified Champion School in Collier County, compete on the interscholastic Unified Flag Football team, and demonstrate citizenship through community or school activities.

“This is wonderful news for our athletes and partners,” said Special Olympics Florida President and CEO Sherry Wheelock. “We are truly honored to be part of this incredible recognition experience and so grateful to the National Football Foundation for championing the inclusion revolution.”

The National Football Foundation is a nonprofit educational organization that uses the power of amateur football to promote academic excellence, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people.

Founded in 1947, it runs the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, awards more than $1.3 million in scholarships annually, organizes high school football showcases around the country and hosts the NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by ETT -- an event that attracts more than 1,600 of football’s most influential supporters. Its National Scholar-Athlete Awards are among the most prestigious honors in all of college football.

At the local level, the NFF recognizes high-school athletes who excel on and off the field. Beginning next year, that group will include Collier County athletes and Unified partners of Special Olympics Florida.

"The opportunity to create a partnership with Special Olympics Florida is a great way to align with an organization that shares the same core values as the National Football Foundation,” said Matt Sellitto, the Collier Chapter NFF President. “We look forward to working with Special Olympics Florida for years to come, as we use sports as the conduit to create an inclusive atmosphere for all.”