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Special Olympics Florida – SUP Invitational's 6th Year!


Sept. 26, 2017 – Special Olympics Florida – Monroe County announced today that its 6th annual Stand Up Paddle Invitational will be held on October 13-15, 2017. This event helped launch stand up paddle (SUP) as a sanctioned sport for Special Olympics Florida and creates exciting new opportunities for athletes, including being selected to compete in the 2018 USA Games in Seattle, Washington, next summer.

Special Olympics athletes, SUP enthusiasts, families, and friends will meet at Smathers Beach for the annual weekend of events to celebrate SUP, sportsmanship, and have fun Special Olympics-style.

“We are happy to announce that Key West is open for business and ready to greet all of our event participants despite the unwelcome visit from Hurricane Irma,” said Ruth Holland of Special Olympics Florida. “We have moved the main event from Higgs Beach to Smathers Beach, but most of the event’s festivities will remain the same. We are excited for this event and welcome all to come out and support our athletes.”

Over the 3 day weekend of Oct. 13 - Oct. 15, 2017, more than 100 Special Olympics athletes from all over the country – including Florida, Texas, and South Carolina – with their coaches and families are expected to take part in what many consider a bucket list event! Spending the weekend taking part in SUP races, fun inclusive activities, and celebrating Special Olympics in our beloved Key West will be highlights of the event, raising awareness and funds for the organization.

Started in 2012, the SUP invitational has helped grow the sport of stand up paddle into a national sport for Special Olympics. SUP will even be included in next year’s 2018 USA Games in Seattle, Washington, on July 1-7, 2017. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet some of the USA Games SUP athletes during the weekend and get autographs!

Sue Cooper, owner of Lazy Dog Adventures has been a part of Special Olympics SUP since 2012. She has been integral to supporting and growing the local team in Monroe County, along with developing the sport for state championships. As the Special Olympics Florida State SUP Games officiate, she will be the event race director for paddle events throughout the weekend.

Dreu Murin ( the voice of Special Olympics Nevada and the event promotion advisor, will be the MC for the entire weekend of the SUP Invitational. Dreu will be joined by Special Olympics Florida – Monroe County athlete Caleb Stowers at the microphone throughout the weekend. Caleb, a Special Olympics Florida Gold medalist in SUP, is known for his inspiring speeches at the Key West Paddle Classic and Special Olympics Area SUP Games.

The 2017 SUP Invitational is a full weekend of events around Key West, including races that are inclusive for paddlers of all ability levels, events for non-paddlers, and family fun to enjoy on the island.

  • Friday night, Oct. 13, Special Olympics Florida – Monroe County opens with the Athletes Reception at Lucy’s Bar and Restaurant (320 Grinnell St, Key West, FL 33040). Our participants will gather to meet new people, renew friendships, pick up race packets, and/or register for events.
  • Saturday, Oct. 14, Smathers Beach (2601 S Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040) will be open for all to enjoy. Meet with race director Sue Cooper for a coach’s meeting/discussion about the direction of SUP in Special Olympics. Join in the fun at our annual Luau Dinner Dance, followed by a Special Olympics-style dance party to warm everyone up for Race Day.
  • Sunday, Oct. 15, Race Day will include a paddleboard race with a beach run obstacle course designed and officiated by Sue Cooper of Lazy Dog Adventures, followed by adapted races for Special Olympics athletes. Proceeds from all events will sponsor Special Olympics SUP racers, benefiting Special Olympics Florida – Monroe County to help get athletes back on the playing field (and in the water!) after Hurricane Irma’s unwelcome visit to the Florida Keys.There are five ways to support this amazing event and Special Olympics athletes in the Florida Keys.
    1. Register fort he Paddle/BeachRun Race or any of the  weekend’s events at
    2. Sponsor or donate to the event; there are many options available to align your company brand with Special Olympics’ strong nationwide presence. Contact Ruth Holland at for more info on how to sponsor the event. Join the highly visible ranks of Lazy Dog, Preferred Properties Key West, Lower Keys Medical Center and Medical Group, Lucy’s Bar and Restaurant Key West/New Orleans, Publix Super Markets, and Ron Jon Surf Shop as sponsors!
    3. Sponsor individual Special Olympics athletes to give them the opportunity to attend this annual must-do weekend at no cost to them!
    4. Make a monetary donation, in-kind raffle donation, a local store gift card (Publix, WinnDixie, Ross, TJ Max, K-Mart, Outback, Miami Subs) or a Visa Gift Card in any amount, all in support of our athletes, families, and volunteers who were affected by Special Olympics involved/fundraise/monroe-county-sup-invitational/
    5. 5. Share in the joy of Special Olympics – become a volunteer!  Sign up to volunteer at this link: 20172


Thank you to our event sponsors, Lazy Dog, Preferred Properties, Lower Keys Medical Center and Keys Medical Group, Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar and Restaurant, Conch Tour Train and Trolley, DucGear, Paddlehound, Paddle the Florida Keys, Zen by Karen Moore, Florida Keys Aqueduct, QuickBlade Paddles, Autism Society of the Florida Keys, Centennial Bank, Date and Thyme, Surfrider, Great Events and New York Pasta Garden

About Special Olympics Florida-Monroe County

Special Olympics Florida-Monroe County provides year-round sports training, competition, and health services to children and adults with intellectual disabilities, in the Florida Keys, at no cost to the athletes or their caregivers, as a means to achieve physical fitness, self- esteem, socialization skills, and the life skills necessary to be productive, respected, and contributing members of their communities. To learn more visit

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