John Donnelly has been named executive director of Utah Special Olympics.

Donnelly, 32, who has been involved with Special Olympics for 17 years, graduated from Utah State University with a degree in recreation management and is a licensed recreation therapist.David Christensen, board president, announced the appointment Wednesday.

"I've always been pulled between sports management and working with special populations," said Donnelly, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native. "This position is tailor-made for my background and interests."

Donnelly has served as Utah Special Olympics sports director and has been employed as recreation director at Wide Horizons and Enable Industries (formerly Weber Vocational Center), both in Ogden. He worked with Special Olympics participants at the two facilities.

The new executive director has also served as director of adult sports programs for Ogden and Logan cities and USU, for alpine and nordic skiing programs, and as USU women's tennis coach.

Special Olympics is an internationally recognized sports and training program for handicapped children and adults. The program is founded on the belief that handicapped athletes can learn, enjoy and excel in individual and team sports.