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WWE throws its weight behind Special Olympics

Basketball game at Santa Clarita Sports Complex is coached by celebrity talent

Posted: August 15, 2014 6:13 p.m.
Updated: August 15, 2014 6:13 p.m.

On TV, Stephanie McMahon plays the part of the vindictive, overbearing boss of a professional wrestling company.

She showed her true, softer self Friday while she watched a Special Olympics basketball game hosted by the World Wrestling Entertainment at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

It was one of several community events the WWE and McMahon, the company’s chief brand officer, are hosting this week around the Los Angeles area.

“Honestly, this is the most important part of my job is giving back to the community and putting smiles on these kids’ faces,” said McMahon, who is a regular character on WWE’s twice-weekly TV shows, “Raw” and “Smackdown.”

Fellow members of WWE’s cast were present on Friday as well, including longtime WWE Superstar Mark Henry and WWE Diva Alicia Fox. Those two were the honorary coaches of the two basketball teams.

Around 50 people — family and friends — were present to watch the two teams made up athletes with intellectual disabilities from around the Santa Clarita Valley and elsewhere in Southern California.

“It was unbelievable to see Stephanie,” said Santa Clarita’s Blain Palmer, one of the game’s participants. “She’s the boss of the WWE and it was just really cool to see her.”

WWE was the founding partner for the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, which were held in New Jersey earlier this summer.

More than 18,000 Special Olympics athletes, coaches and volunteers across 12 sports were involved in the event, said Bill Shumard, president and CEO of Special Olympics Southern California.

McMahon said the partnership was rekindling a relationship the WWE has had with Special Olympics for nearly 20 years.

“I’m a mom of three daughters and it’s just an unbelievable feeling to be a part of all these community service activities and to give back to the community and these kids,” she said.

The event also hit home for Mark Henry, who was a two-time Olympic powerlifter before he got into the pro wrestling business.

“You’ve got people working hard for a long period of time to accomplish a goal, and that’s what we did (as Olympians),” Henry said. “We didn’t have the challenges that they have, but the same work goes into it.”

Henry’s team wound up losing narrowly, 23-21, to Team Alicia Fox. But the final score was the last thing on the minds of the starstruck athletes.

“We came up on the losing end,” Henry said, “but nobody loses when you have a good time like we had.”




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