Jordan Episcopo is 2021 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Challenger Inductee
By Brian Dillon // March 27, 2021
athletes who participate in Special Olympics come in all ages, ethnicities and economic and social backgrounds
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Special Olympics Florida offers athletes a fair opportunity to develop and demonstrate their talents through sports training and competition.
Intellectual disability does not discriminate; athletes who participate in Special Olympics come in all ages, ethnicities, and economic and social backgrounds.
Born in Christiana, Delaware, Jordan Episcopo was soon after placed in foster care.
Adopted by Pete and Deb Episcopo at the age of two, Jordan was displaying signs of cognitive delays, especially in the area of speech.
After a battery of testing, Jordan was diagnosed as intellectually disabled with a language impairment. However, while taking Jordan out for a stroller ride Pete and Deb noticed something that would set the stage for something wonderful.
During their usual trips to feed the ducks at a pond near the family home, Jordan would jump out of the stroller and run around the mile loop in the neighborhood.
Running enthusiasts themselves, Pete and Deb were thrilled at Jordan’s desire to run, especially a few years later after it was evident that t-ball and soccer were a bit of a challenge for Jordan to grasp.
Since Jordan loved to run, they signed him up for running camp at the age of four, and from there, he began competing in fun runs.
After the family moved to the Space Coast in 2005, Jordan at the age of 10 found lots of opportunities to participate in school track and cross country. From Hershey Track he then signed up for Coach Doug Butler’s running camps.
That provided Jordan the training he needed to go to compete on the Hoover Middle School track team and then for the Viera High School track and cross country teams.
The opportunities continued through his exceptional student education teacher, Santana Huppe and her husband Paul, who encouraged Jordan to become involved in Brevard Special Olympics.
Coach Paul even escorted Jordan to Austin, Texas in 2017, where Paul ran a half marathon with Jordan as a Special Olympics Unified Partner.
“They’ve always been encouraging the athletes to go beyond what they think they’re capable of doing,” said Deb.
With these opportunities on the Space Coast, Jordan flourished, winning Gold Medals at the county, area and state Special Olympic Games in the 800-meter and 1500-meter events, five years consecutively.
At this same time, Jordan would also compete at the prestigious Penn Relays and in many half marathons.
But the big event would soon come, as Jordan was named to the 2018 Florida Team that would represent the state at the USA Special Olympic Games in Seattle, Washington, becoming the first runner from Brevard County in more than 15 years.
Jordan, classified as a Level 3 runner, was actually placed in competition in Division 1 events at the USA Games. What happened next is now an incredible memory and accomplishment for Jordan.
On national television, Jordan would win a Bronze Medal in the 1500-meter Division 1 finals. Pete, Deb, as well as their family and friends back home, were stunned at the effort Jordan put forth. But that would not be the end of the story.
On the very next day, Jordan would win a Silver Medal in the Division 1 Finals 3000-meter race – an event that he did not compete in normally for Special Olympics.
It has been an incredible journey for Jordan and his family, from the early days feeding ducks and jumping out of the stroller all the way to the Space Coast. Yet, in Jordan’s words, “it ain’t over yet.”
Jordan has also participated in Special Olympics bowling and basketball, but running is his priority.
“I feel the wind coming right at me as I’m running my fastest speed, just enjoying the run on the track,” said Jordan. “What’s really going through my mind is enjoying the experience of having fun, and enjoying life while you still can.”
In addition to being a gifted athlete, Jordan is also a well-rounded citizen. Viera Publix hired him in 2018 and his managers have been very supportive.
Publix is the largest financial sponsor and supporter of Special Olympics Florida, and locally they gave Jordan the opportunity to demonstrate that he can contribute productively.
He is now training in the hopes of representing Florida again at the 2022 USA Games set for Orlando.
Because of the recent pandemic, Special Olympics Brevard needs our community’s help. Basically starting again from scratch after more than a year of no physical participation or competition, they need volunteers and financial sponsorship and support.
Please consider investing and playing a role in the future victories of these very special people. Visit SpecialOlympics.org to make a donation.