EWING, N.J. — Thousands of inspiring athletes, along with their families and supporters, flocked to New Jersey this week for the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. They were cheered on by another group of athletes: WWE’s Superstars and Divas.
Throughout the weeklong competition celebrating unity and inclusion through sport, Superstars and Divas took part in the celebration, rooting on athletes and presenting the winners with medals. WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos, Darren Young, Titus O’Neil, Alicia Fox, The Funkadactyls and WWE Hall of Famers Bob Backlund and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat were among the team of Superstars that took part in the festivities.
“It’s a blessing,” Jey Uso said of the opportunity to be a part of the Special Olympics movement.
“We love to give back, that’s why we’re here,” Jimmy said, after he and his brother presented medals to the winners of the bocce event.
Perhaps the best part of the week for the Superstars and Divas was getting to meet the athletes and their supporters up close and personal during autograph signings at Olympic Town, a carnival set up for Special Olympics attendees at The College of New Jersey. Long lines snaked around Olympic Town as everyone tried to get a better look at the Superstars while they waited their turn.
Once they got to the front of the line, it was all smiles as the Superstars chatted with the athletes, sharing hugs, comparing muscles, posing for pictures and signing autographs. The Usos even let everyone who waited in line pose with their prized WWE Tag Team Championships.
Many of the athletes are huge WWE fans and have encyclopedic knowledge of sports-entertainment’s history and talked with the Superstars about various moments from their careers. For the Superstars, the Special Olympics gave them a chance to take a step back and see how what they do inspires people.
“With the job, sometimes we complain about the long hours and the early flights,” Jey explained. “Today brought us back down to earth.”
“It makes us proud that they love what we do so much,” Jimmy said.
Even though the sun was beating down on New Jersey throughout the week, with the temperature reaching higher than 90 degrees, the Superstars were extra energetic throughout the day, drawing inspiration from the athletes they met. The experience was unlike any other, for both the Superstars and the athletes.
“This was, hands down, the best autograph signing we’ve ever had,” Jimmy declared without hesitation.
“It’s No. 1,” Jey said when asked where Special Olympics ranked among the events he gets to take part in as a WWE Superstar.
WWE is a Founding Partner of the Special Olympics 2014 USA Games, which run through Friday. WWE produced the Opening Ceremonies, along with daily recaps of each day’s competitions and events, in addition to the Superstars’ roles. For more information on the games, visit www.2014specialolympics.org.