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Special Olympics Connecticut Honors ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi

SportsCenter anchor receives the Susan Saint James Award, is proud to be "an advocate for any athlete who just wants the opportunity to take part in sport"

SportsCenter anchor Kevin Negandhi (second from left) was awarded the Susan Saint James award at the Special Olympics Connecticut Annual Awards Dinner in Plantsville, Conn.
(Special Olympics Connecticut/ESPN)

SportsCenter anchor Kevin Negandhi has been a longstanding advocate for the Special Olympics. He’s hosted the coverage of ESPN’s broadcasts of the USA Games and World Games since 2014. Negandhi also has served as an ESPN Special Olympics Unified Sports Ambassador; he is involved in many events as a speaker/presenter and has mentored several Special Olympics athletes who have worked for ESPN.

Negandhi was honored this week by Special Olympics Connecticut at its annual award ceremony for all the exemplary spirit he’s shown, the significant contributions he’s provided, and the time he’s dedicated to help grow awareness for Special Olympics. Negandhi took home the Susan Saint James Award, but this is more than that for him; it’s about seeing this organization’s impact on lives.

“These are opportunities given to athletes who deserve it,” Negandhi said in a 2018 piece by the Philadelphia Voice. “Many of these athletes talk about how getting involved and being part of a team; they have a different identity. You see the adversity, but then you see how sport has changed their life.”

Front Row caught up with Negandhi recently to uncover his love for the Special Olympics and how it has impacted him since he became involved.

Kevin Negandhi
(Melissa Rawlins/ESPN Images)

What does receiving the Susan Saint James Special Olympics Connecticut Award mean to you?
I’m floored that I would be considered for an award named after Susan Saint James. She has done so much for the Special Olympics over the years through her dedication to service and belief in the core values of Inclusion. It’s an absolute honor and something I will cherish. Susan has led by example for so many who want just to be involved in making a difference. I hope to continue to do that and carry the same principles as an advocate for any athlete who just wants the opportunity to take part in sport.

What has it meant to you to have been the Special Olympics host for so many years?
To witness the joy and pride from the Special Olympic athletes as well as their families hits home for me every single time. Whether it’s the World Games or USA Games, the feeling is the same. Everyone gets a chance to be involved, make friends, and share stories.

What stands out to you as a special moment during the games?
For many of the athletes, it’s their first time traveling, experiencing their dreams in real-time after all of their hard work and commitment. Bottom line, we all want to be a part of something, and we often take for granted what is given to us or what we have access to.

For the athletes and their families, every single moment is savored as they’re a part of a team. United, regardless of what country they’re from or state they represent. It’s sportsmanship in its purest form, and something we need more of in our everyday lives.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This spring, Walt Disney World Resort will host the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as the premier venue for the USA Games, which also includes additional sponsorship and in-kind support for the USA Games, Presenting Partner for the Volunteer program and ESPN’s role as the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports. The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games will be held June 5 – 12. ESPN’s support of Special Olympics began over 30 years ago. Today, ESPN is the proud Global Broadcast Partner of Special Olympics events and the proud Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports®.

SportsCenter anchor Kevin Neghandi hands out medals during Track and Field at the 2014 Special Olympics Southern California Summer Invitational Games.
(Kohjiro Kinno/ESPN Images)
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