Southfield (CW50) – Max Hinga is a Special Olympics athlete who is skilled in a variety of sports and has been competing since he was a child. Greg Thomas is Max’s Unified Partner on their Unified soccer team where they met over two years ago. Together, they will compete in the Unified Cup in Detroit this July.

At the end of July, Detroit is hosting the Special Olympics Unified Cup for the first time in the state’s history. Unified Cup is a soccer tournament that welcomes over 300 footballers from over 20 nations to compete in football (soccer)—the world’s most popular sport. The Special Olympics Unified Cup is slated for July 31st – August 6th, 2022.

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Unified teams are comprised of footballers with and without intellectual disabilities playing together. The Unified Cup is part of the large Special Olympics Unified Sports, where a variety of sports are played in the same format with athletes with and without these disabilities.

Max and Greg join Lisa Germani on Community Connect to discuss the upcoming Unified Cup, how they’ve been preparing, and the impact sports have had on their lives.

Community Connect Host Lisa Germani, with Unified Athlete Max Hinga

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Max is also a marathon runner and plans on becoming a Unified coach in his future. He’s been using his marathon training as preparation for the tournament and is ready and excited for July 31st.

Community Connect Host Lisa Germani, with Unified Partner Greg Thomas

Greg joined Unified after seeing the impact that the intellectual disability community had on his sister when she began volunteering. Greg thought Unified would be a great place for him to grow his understanding and experience the lives of so many different people, and learn from others.

Max joined Special Olympics to find a home, “I really thought Special Olympics would be a home to me and it has been; a welcoming home to me.”

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Watch Community Connect, Saturday at 7am on CW50