LOS ANGELES (Wednesday, June 28, 2023) – The LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified Team traveled to Colorado this weekend to take on the Colorado Rapids Special Olympics Unified Team on Saturday, June 24 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Co., in a trip made possible thanks to the LA Galaxy’s airline partner Alaska Airlines.
In a once in a lifetime experience for the LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified Team, the players had the opportunity to represent the LA Galaxy on the road during the team’s 3-3 draw in regulation but fell 4-3 in a penalty-kick shootout against the Colorado Rapids Special Olympics Unified Team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“We are honored to work with our partners at Alaska Airlines to help provide extraordinary experiences to our Special Olympics Unified Team,” said Tom Braun, LA Galaxy Senior Vice President of Soccer & Business Operations and Business Development. “It is important for the LA Galaxy to help provide these opportunities as we continue to promote the importance of social inclusion through soccer.”
As part of the trip to Colorado, the LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified Team attended the Los Angeles Angels vs. Colorado Rockies baseball game alongside the Colorado Rapids Special Olympics Unified team on Friday, June 23 for a bonding experience between both clubs.
“Care is in our DNA here at Alaska and so it was a natural fit for us to send the LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified Team on a trip that we know would change their lives,” said Neil Thwaites, Regional Vice-President of California at Alaska Airlines. “As long-time sponsors of the Galaxy, we are proud to partner with a team that promotes social inclusion. We are even more proud of the Special Olympics Team’s accomplishments and are cheering them on!”
The LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified Team also had the opportunity to watch the LA Galaxy take on the Colorado Rapids during MLS Regular Season action ahead of the Special Olympics Unified match.
In advance of the LA-Colorado MLS match on Saturday, the LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified Team surprised the LA Galaxy’s first team with a send-off at the team’s hotel with signs and posters as the first team players made their way to the bus before departing to the stadium. The LA Galaxy first team had the opportunity to show their love and support in return as coaches and players cheered on the LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified Team from the sidelines during their Special Olympics Unified match.
"As head coach of our 2023 LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified Team, we are extremely thankful to Alaska Airlines for partnering with us to travel to an away game,” said LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified Team Head Coach Cris Ortiz. “With their extra support, we are able to provide once in a lifetime opportunities to our athletes and give them the experience of an actual MLS player. Thank you to our partners at Alaska Airlines and go Galaxy!”
The LA Galaxy Special Olympics and Unified Team seeks to promote an environment of social inclusion, which is aligned with MLS’ Soccer For All platform, uniting individuals with intellectual disabilities (Special Olympics athletes) and individuals without intellectual disabilities (Unified partners) as members of one team.
MLS Unified soccer teams travel for exhibition matches, scheduled in conjunction with MLS first-team matches, to reinforce inclusivity and showcase the talents and abilities to MLS fans. MLS clubs provide authentic MLS first-team experiences such as signing days, jersey unveils, practices and scrimmages with front office staff, Academy and first-team players, and game day recognition. Unified teams are outfitted in authentic adidas uniforms provided by their respective clubs.
The LA Galaxy Special Olympics and Unified Team will next host the Chicago Fire Special Olympics Unified Team on Saturday, August 26 immediately after the first team’s match at Dignity Health Sports Park.