Charlotte FC Unified Athlete and Partner Earn 2023 All-Star Honors


Special Olympics Unified Sports® All-Star Game Presented by MLS WORKS & Coca-Cola Zero Sugar

Bringing together Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners, or people without intellectual disabilities, Charlotte FC's Unified Team represented the Club in one away match this season. Charlotte's athlete Zach Burkholder and partner Emily Burkholder were rewarded for their actions on and off the pitch with All-Star selections.

Unified has provided an experience that has positively impacted the lives of every athlete, partner, volunteer, and coach involved.

"It's been more than an exceptional experience. I’ve been so appreciative of a truly unified spirit, coaches, athletes, and partners," said Dustin Swinehart who serves as Charlotte FC's Director of Community Engagement. "It's been a program that has touched all our hearts really deeply.”


MLS, Special Olympics and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar will host the 8th annual Special Olympics Unified Sports® All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 19th at 3 p.m. ET at the Naval Academy’s Glenn Warner Soccer Facility in Annapolis, MD.

The Unified All-Stars will play in an 11 v. 11 competitive match coached by MLS Greats and will be outfitted in custom kits provided by adidas. The event is free and open to the public. The East and West Unified All-Star teams will also be recognized on-field during the MLS All-Star Game.

The Unified All-Star Game is part of the season-long Special Olympics Unified Soccer Exchange program that provides opportunities for Unified soccer teams to participate in a first-team MLS experience. Unified soccer teams travel to MLS markets to compete in home and away exhibition matches scheduled in conjunction with MLS first-team matches, and receive unique experiences throughout the season, such as signing days, jersey unveils, buddy programs with MLS first-team players, and matchday recognition.