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Tobin’s Take on Healthy Athletes at the Unified Cup

Special Olympics Missouri athlete Allen Tobin represented SOMO at the 2022 Unified Cup August 3-6 in Detroit.

DETROIT – Special Olympics Missouri athlete Allen Tobin represented Special Olympics Missouri at the 2022 Unified Cup in Detroit, Michigan from August 4-6.

Tobin worked as a reporter for Special Olympics International’s Global Health Communications team. During his time at the Unified Cup, Tobin helped lead the efforts to promote the Healthy Athletes initiative.

You can read his daily blog posts below!

DAY 1 

I was so excited to be able to go to the Unified Cup that I didn’t get much sleep, but I did get a nap on the 2-hour flight from Kansas City to Detroit. When I landed, I met Lilia Carasciuc from the Special Olympics International Global Health Communications team. This week, we are working together on collecting stories and photos from the Unified Cup participants, volunteers and other supporters.

We headed to the Healthy Athletes venue to meet up with the ESPN crew and do an interview with their reporter and Special Olympics athlete Daina Shilts. 

I also ran into my friend from Michigan, Kayla Cornell. Back in 2018, I helped train Kayla as a Health Messenger, and I was very excited to see her leadership at the Unified Cup. We got to talk about our experience at Healthy Athletes and other projects that we are both working on. 


We started the day off by going to Young Athletes. Because of weather issues, Young Athletes had to be moved to Keidan Special Education School. We walked around and took pictures of the athletes. I talked to the principal about why she wanted to be part of this program. She told me that she noticed that most of the students at a young age have trouble socializing and are having some motorization problems. This program helps them learn the skills they need to be a part of society and be able to communicate with their families and make friends.

Then, in the afternoon, we went back over to Healthy Athletes and talked to a few people and took some pictures. We talked to a father of a nonverbal athlete who got new hearing aids and glasses. You can tell that the athlete was excited to be able to see things better because he kept pointing out different things with excitement, and he could hear a whole lot better. He could also tell when people were talking to him. Not only will this improve his ability to hear his teammates and his coaches, but it will also improve his ability to hear his family members when they talk to him.

We also found out there was one person that absolutely had to get special glasses made with a prism. This person had a lazy eye, and these new glasses will help them focus on what they are doing.

I was talking to one of my friends at Healthy Athletes, and I noticed someone going through the Healthy Hearing. They were upset and crying because they were getting hearing aids because they didn’t want people to mess with them about having hearing aids. My friend told them about me having hearing aids and even showed them a picture of me with my hearing aids. My friend told them that I said that cool people wear hearing aids. That made them feel better and got them to stop crying. They actually got excited about having new hearing aids.

Then, we went to a dinner meeting in downtown Detroit, right by the riverfront. You could actually see the border of Canada by the restaurant.


We went to pediatrics first thing in the morning. I was roaming around and taking pictures of all the kids getting health screenings. Then, we had two very special guests show up. Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver and his wife came down to the pediatrics and the Young Athletes Program.

After the Shriver’s left, I interviewed M.S, P.A. Corinne Gratson, one of the faculty at Wayne State University overseeing the students doing the health screenings. That interview should be up on the on the Special Olympics International website soon. Then, I went back to Healthy Athletes to see what was going on, and I got to see Tim Shriver and his wife again. This time, I got a picture with him.

I was looking for some of the athletes from other countries that could speak English. But, none of them could speak good enough English.

I talked to Seneca Baller at Healthy Hearing. She was with the Grand Valley State University audiology program. She said she enjoyed being around the athletes and helping some of the athletes get new hearing aids. She was interested in doing more with Special Olympics.

Allen was SOMO’s first ever Health Messenger. He began in this role back in 2016. Tobin has been a SOMO athlete for more than 25 years.