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Gwen Walz

First Lady of Minnesota
2026 USA Games Board Member

Gwen Walz is the First Lady of Minnesota, a former English teacher and lifelong Minnesotan. She is a passionate advocate for educating Minnesota’s children and has spent her life working to build a more just and equitable world. From teaching at prisons and promoting criminal justice reform to advocating for the LGBTQ movement, Gwen’s desire to learn from and work with others to advance meaningful change is her guiding principle. She looks forward to bringing this unparalleled perspective and influence to the 2026 Special Olympics USA Games.

As First Lady, Gwen was invited to the announcement of the 2026 USA Games at the University of Minnesota. The positive energy, hopefulness, and clear mission motivated her to think about what she could do to help make the 2026 Games a success for all athletes, attendees, and the entire state of Minnesota.

My hopes and dreams for the 2026 Special Olympics USA Games are that the essence of the Special Olympics and the spirit of Minnesota can combine to provide an exceptional experience for the athletes and everyone involved.

Gwen’s hopes and dreams for the 2026 Games revolve around fusing the unique aspects of Special Olympics with the spirit of Minnesota. She envisions an extraordinary experience where the values of inclusion and camaraderie inherent in Special Olympics seamlessly intertwine with the hospitality and community spirit emblematic of Minnesota. With her passionate commitment and unwavering support, Gwen Walz endeavors to play a vital role in creating an exceptional and unforgettable journey for everyone involved, where the essence of Special Olympics shines brightly against the backdrop of Minnesota’s boundless spirit.

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