Connecticut Special Olympians visit White House


WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 18: U.S. President Donald Trump (C) answers questions from ABC News’ Jonathan Karl as Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence host members of the United States Special Olympics World Games team in the Oval Office at the White House July 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. During the photo opportunity, Trump said that he wished his supporters had not chanted, ‘Send her back,’ in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) during a political rally Wednesday in North Carolina. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Washington, D.C. (WTNH) — The White House hosted members of the Special Olympics USA delegation on Thursday, including two gold medalists from Connecticut.

Ken Richter of Newington and Steve Manzone of Bristol were congratulated and recognized alongside 18 other Special Olympians for their accomplishments at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.

The delegation visited with President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence in the Oval Office. They were also joined by United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba.

Ken Richter, a Special Olympian from Newington who visited the White House with the USA delegation. Photo credit: Tara Baker

The meeting was the first time a Special Olympics team was invited to the White House after representing their country at a World Games event. On behalf of all the athletes, the president was presented with a signed jersey by Delina Rodrigues, a powerlifting athlete from Pennsylvania.

The entire USA delegation was made up of 315 members, which competed in 18 of the 24 sports that included athletics, swimming and basketball.

Richter and Manzone earned their gold medals in bocce.

The USA athletes brought home a total of 72 gold, 62 silver and 70 bronze medals. They also received 97 participation ribbons.

The World Games were held in the Middle East for the first time in the Special Olympics’ 50-year history, with locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Over 192 nations were represented by 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches.

The 2021 Special Olympics World Winter Games will be hosted by Sweden from February 6-12.

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