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NBA All-Star Weekend: Jump, Shoot, Connect!

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February 17, 2016

This past weekend Toronto hosted the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend. Bringing together athletes and fans from all over North America the weekend goes beyond just the game, it gives people the opportunity to come together to enjoy the power of sport.

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As a part of these celebrations, Special Olympics and the Samuel Family Foundation hosted an evening reception to honour Special Olympics athletes and their inspiring achievements. Joined by NBA Legends and WNBA players, these athletes participated in the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game. Having the opportunity to play with the professional athletes they grew up watching was an experience many of the Special Olympics athletes described as a “dream come true”.

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Special Olympics athletes participate in the Unified Basketball game during 2016 NBA Allstar Weekend at the Enecare Center in Toronto, Canada on Saturday February 13, 2016. (Ben Solomon/SOI)
Special Olympics athletes participate in the Unified Basketball game during 2016 NBA Allstar Weekend at the Enercare Center in Toronto, Canada on Saturday February 13, 2016. (Ben Solomon/SOI)

The reception also gave all the athletes the opportunity to connect and share their stories of overcoming barriers to reach their goals. James Black, a participant from Washington, D.C., told his story of conquering obstacles to get to where he is today and gave the powerful advice to “always proceed in life” despite the barriers that may arise.

All over the world, sport has the potential to provoke feelings of belonging and togetherness with the power to unite people of diverse backgrounds. Unified Sports shows us all a path that removes barriers and fosters greater understanding, friendship, and connectedness.

Special Olympics athletes during a reception at Kim Samuel's residence ahead of 2016 NBA Allstar Weekend in Toronto, Canada on Friday February 12, 2016. (Ben Solomon/SOI)
Special Olympics athletes during a reception at Kim Samuel’s residence ahead of 2016 NBA Allstar Weekend in Toronto, Canada on Friday February 12, 2016. (Ben Solomon/SOI)


Read the full Partnership Summary Overview for more information about how the Samuel Family Foundation and Special Olympics are working together to use sport as a catalyst for social change.

For more photos from the event visit the Social Connectedness Flickr.