Special Olympics announces appearances for ceremonies

2010 Special Olympics USA National Games announces talent for opening and closing ceremonies, professional athletes coming to Nebraska.

A wide range of talent will be on display for Special Olympics state delegations, family members and fans, for their enjoyment at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and at sporting events throughout the week for the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.

For the Opening Ceremony, which will take place on July 18 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, Brooklyn Decker, a model, actress and national spokeswoman for Special Olympics, will emcee the Opening Ceremony. Decker has been featured in Teen Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and she graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2010.

Decker will be joined by:

Eddie Barbanell, co-emcee of the Opening Ceremony, an actor with Down Syndrome, best known for his appearance in the “The Ringer” where he played a Special Olympics athlete alongside Johnny Knoxville. 

Michael Sarver, who finished in the top 10 on the eighth season of American Idol, will be performing an original composition written by Landy and Stephanie Maughon, “Carry the Torch” and his composition, “Watch Me Fly.”

Sandi Patty, who has won five Grammys, four Billboard Music Awards, and has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Patty will be performing an original composition by Landy Maughon, entitled “Raise the Flag” as well as her famous rendition of the “National Anthem.”

Rachel McClusky, will begin the ceremony by performing a song she composed especially for the USA National Games, “Be A Fan.” Inspiration for the song comes from the “Be A Fan” theme and the role Special Olympics has played in her life through volunteer work with her family.

Jars of Clay, which has sold more than 6 million albums and has received three Grammy Awards, will be the headline performer, playing two or more of their signature pieces.

A limited number of tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the Bob Devaney Sports Center Will Call on Sunday, July 18 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. CST. The Opening Ceremony will also be broadcast live on NET2 statewide and webcast on www.2010specialolympics.org.

The Youth Rally Closing Ceremony, which will take place July 23rd at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, will highlight Kristina DeBarge, whose debut single “Goodbye” peaked to No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and who was nominated by the 2010 Image Awards as Outstanding New Artist.

Appearing with DeBarge will be a mix of musical performers and actors:

FeFe Dobson, who performed at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards and has had songs appear in several movies and television shows including “American Dreams,” “Raising Helen,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “One Tree Hill,” will be performing live;

LaShell Griffin, who won the “The Oprah Winfrey Pop Star Challenge” in 2004, had a song place in the top 10 on the Gospel Charts in 2004, and has previously performed at the 2006 Special Olympics U.S. National Games in Ames, Iowa performing “We Raise this Flag;”

Small Change, a fun-loving, teen hip-pop group from Atlanta Ga., and has opened for a multitude of Grammy-Award winning multi-platinum artists, has toured with the NBA's Rhythm & Rims Tour, performed in some of the largest venues and has been heard on Radio Disney;

David Steffan, a local performer and Special Olympics athlete from Omaha, will sing “Let Me,” a song he wrote about the Special Olympics. Steffan has won 30 gold medals in the last 13 years while being involved in the Special Olympics.

A limited number of tickets will be available for the Youth Rally Closing Ceremony for youth (ages 10 to 16) that wish to attend the event. A two-ticket limit will be applied per youth and are free of charge. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the Bob Devaney Sports Center Box Office from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. CST on Wednesday, July 21 and Thursday, July 22, and from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. CST on Friday, July 23.

Athletically, professional athletes and coaches will also be on hand to work with athletes in clinics and demonstrations throughout the week.

Andy Roddick, a top-ranked American professional tennis player and the only American ranked in the Association of Tennis Professionals Top 10, will appear at the Nebraska Tennis Center (7600 N. 70th St. Lincoln, NE) from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. CST on Sunday, July 18 for a tennis demonstration.

Amanda Freed, Olympic gold medalist softball player and one of the most prominent professional softball players, will be working the softball clinic from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. CST at Fleming Fields for the Softball Clinic on Tuesday, July 20.

Tom Hoff, an Olympics three-time indoor volleyball player and captain of the gold medal 2008 Beijing Olympic team, will be working a volleyball demonstration from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. CST Monday, July 19 at Abbott Sports Complex.

Matt Blair, one of NFL's top retired linebackers who played 12 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, and John Turner, a retired professional football player who played 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and the San Diego Chargers, will help with the football clinic from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. CST on Tuesday, July 20 at Mabel Lee Fields on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.

Blair and Turner will also be joined by Tony Covington, is a former NFL safety, having played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks, and Joey Browner, a 4-time member of the John Madden “All-Madden Team” and a five time NFL Hall of Fame Nominee.