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MN United's Watson takes charge with Special Olympics fundraiser

Supporting the Special Olympics on Wednesday, Aug. 9 were (left to right) Special Olympics athlete Abby Pearson, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens and Minnesota United FC sideline reporter Jamie Watson. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia

Minnesota United FC TV sideline reporter Jamie Watson grew up watching his brother, Brett, participate in sports with the Special Olympics.

Now Watson is giving back with fundraising efforts to benefit Special Olympics Minnesota. On Aug. 9, Watson teamed up with SuperAmerica for a one-day fundraiser donating all purchases of ICEE drinks to Special Olympics Minnesota. The fundraiser, dubbed "Cold for Gold," helped raise $15,000 for Special Olympics in 2016.

Watson's experiences watching Brett participate in Special Olympics while growing up have motivated him to get involved with the organization.

"For me, going to Special Olympics was normal," Watson said. "That was every summer we went to it, and it was so much fun because I got to see how happy he was. When he competed, and he did well, he would get the medal, and he would get so excited."

Watson, who is also an assistant coach with the East Ridge girls' soccer team, added "It was something that impacted my life, and now if I can impact somebody's life, I'm going to try to do that."

The busy day of promotion with the fundraiser brought him to the SuperAmerica gas station in Woodbury on Radio Drive across from HealthEast Sports Center. Previously, he had appeared on television and radio programs throughout the Twin Cities to drum up participation.

"Really, the big thing was to get as many people to hear about it today," Watson said.

Joining Watson and his son Cade at the Woodbury SuperAmerica were Special Olympics participant Abby Pearson, who lives in Golden Valley, and Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens.

Pearson said her favorite memory of participating in the Special Olympics was getting a first-place medal in bocce. She, like many other Special Olympics participants, also enjoys the camaraderie she has with her fellow athletes.

"I like to see all of my coworkers and friends there," Pearson said.