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Meet Mario

At the end of February, our newest public service announcement "Skeleton" was launched as a part of our ongoing 'Be A Fan' campaign. The basketball-themed PSA encourages viewers to get past first impressions and see Special Olympics athletes for what they are: athletes.

Created by ad agency and longtime Special Olympics supporters BBDO Worldwide, this exciting new spot features the latest in digital animation and features Mario Ogunbowale, a 21 year-old Special Olympics athlete hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mario plays on the Milwaukee Blazers Special Olympics basketball team and started competing with Special Olympics back when he was age 16.

On Wednesday, February 24th, Mario and his family were special guests at the Milwaukee Bucks NBA home game where Mario was able to see himself up on the jumbotron, in-arena, in front of the entire crowd! The local NBA partner station in Milwaukee, Fox Sports Wisconsin, also showed the spot on television to their viewing audience at home.

Our partners at NBA Cares supported the launch well beyond Wisconsin, posting the PSA on their NBA Cares website and You Tube pages. They also showcased the PSA on National television from March 3-12th, on both NBA TV and ESPN (Friday, 3/5, NBA game on ESPN game, New Orleans @ San Antonio). We are continuing to work with NBA teams on a local level to showcase the PSA in-arenas across the country through the rest of the NBA season. The support of the NBA was probably best articulated by blogger Sekou Smith who said – "Super Mario has a commercial that rivals those of Kobe Brant, LeBron James, Dwane Wade and their NBA brethren."

If you haven't seen it yet, you can check out the PSA here and read more in our online press room as well. We also have the PSA on our official Special Olympics You Tube page. The timing of the launch is just in time for NCAA March Madness and will run throughout the year with plans to be featured during the Euroleague Four Competitions in Paris, and during the NBA Finals in the U.S.

Special Olympics, through sport, has been working to change attitudes about people with intellectual disabilities and help society see their capabilities. People significantly underestimate the capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities and this new PSA is just one example of how we can help change those attitudes.

The "Skeleton" PSA was generously provided to Special Olympics by BBDO.  Mr. Andrew Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, BBDO Worldwide, Inc. is a Special Olympics Board Member. This PSA is being distributed to all of our Regions, in arenas, on television and at events throughout 2010 as we continue the 'Be a Fan' campaign.

QUOTE FROM PRESS RELEASE: "The incredible creative work of BBDO is a testament to their continued support of Special Olympics' vision to help society realize the potential and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities," said Brady Lum, President and COO of Special Olympics. "We appreciate the ongoing support of Andrew Robertson and his team for creating a powerful advertisement that helps us send this message to millions of people."