Luzardo encourages others to 'Go Coach!' with Special Olympics

The trade that sent Jesús Luzardo from the Oakland Athletics to the Miami Marlins ahead of the 2021 Trade Deadline not only gave the left-hander a chance to pitch for his childhood team, it has also allowed him to use his platform to give back to the community where he spent his formative years.

Luzardo, 26, was born in Perú to Venezuelan parents and grew up in Parkland, Fla. One of the causes he has embraced as a member of the Marlins has been Special Olympics, an international organization that provides sports training and competition opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities while promoting inclusion, acceptance, and respect.

Most recently, Luzardo has lent his voice to Special Olympics Florida’s *Go Coach!* campaign, which encourages Floridians to support Special Olympic athletes as volunteer coaches in one of the 25-plus sports the nonprofit offers throughout the state.

The initiative resonates with Luzardo in part because his dad, Jesús Luzardo Sr., along with Yankee first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s dad, John Rizzo, has volunteered as a coach with Challenger Baseball of Broward County, a program for special needs children and adults.

“My dad's a coach, and he's not an athlete or anything, but he always likes being around motivating and helping them out,” said Luzardo.

Sherry Wheelock, CEO of Special Olympics Florida, highlighted the importance of professional athletes like Luzardo throwing their support behind the organization.

“When they are able to connect on the playing field with individuals who are as focused and committed to the sports they love, our athletes are able to level-up and witness their skills improving,” said Wheelock. “This is similar to the impact they experience from their coaches, and it’s why we are thrilled to have Jesús from the Marlins as one of many professional sports icons to support our Go Coach! initiative.”

The past two years, Luzardo has also been on-site for Miami’s Race for Inclusion, a 5K running event held in various cities throughout Florida to raise money for Special Olympics athletes and raise awareness about the needs of people with intellectual disabilities. Last December’s race in Miami’s Bayfront Park raised $165,000.

“Both years it's been awesome, just to see everyone out there and supporting such a good cause,” says Luzardo. “I think especially it being in the heart of Miami, I think that's also a super cool aspect of it. I feel like the community rallies around it.”

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Luzardo, who will be making his first Opening Day start for the Marlins on March 28, also welcomed Special Olympics athletes to loanDepot park for a softball skills assessment clinic last October.

“The clinic is awesome, and every year I hope it grows and keeps continuing to get bigger,” said Luzardo. “Anytime I'm able to be there and just be a part of it and help them out and see their faces and how excited they are and how happy they are to be on that field with us, I think it just does a lot for me.”

Anyone interested in volunteering as a coach with Special Olympics Florida can visit

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