Pierce Pennaz competing in Gymnastics during the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games (Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)


Pierce earned gold on the national stage. This weekend, athletes take the stage in Minnesota.

Pierce Pennaz, also know as Pierce “the Beast”, is a Special Olympics athlete from Independence, Minnesota. He has been a fierce competitor with Special Olympics since 2009 and has participated in a wide variety of sports including basketball, flag football, bowling, track and gymnastics. In June, Pierce competed in gymnastics at the the USA Games in Orlando, Florida!

Special Olympics Minnesota gymnasts Lucy Haugland, Josh Skordahl and Pierce Pennaz at the 2022 USA Games

The Special Olympics USA Games is a national competition that unites more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the Caribbean. While in Orlando, Pierce gave it his all at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and came away with a gold medal in the men’s all-around gymnastics!

Pierce’s favorite part of Special Olympics is “Making new buddies, especially through Unified. I’ve become stronger, gained more confidence and learned discipline.”

Before going to a national competition like USA Games, athletes must qualify at a state-level competition. One of those state-level competitions will be hosted in Minnesota in June.

Summer Games is Special Olympics Minnesota’s biggest event of the year, where over 1,000 athletes gather to compete in basketball, swimming, gymnastics and track and field. This year will be the first time the competition is held in-person since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can watch athletes like Pierce compete in gymnastics at the Special Olympics Minnesota Summer Games on June 18 and 19 at Mini Hops in Plymouth!

This Summer Games story is presented by Allianz.