A Basketball Legend

November 04, 2011

John Moreau has refereed at countless NCAA tournaments and Olympic trials.  He has been on the court with basketball super-stars like Michael Jordan, David Thompson, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson. Coach Jimmy Valvano affectionately called Moreau “Papa John.”

Professional basketball referee John Moreau poses on basketball court.

Over two decades ago, John Moreau came to Special Olympics to help out at a basketball event and  "the rest is history."

But for John Moreau, many of these brushes with basketball greats pale when compared with experiences at Special Olympics. The Special Olympics experiences truly touched his heart. Moreau says refereeing those games has led to the most meaningful, powerful and rewarding experiences in his officiating career.  


Professional basketball referee John Moreau poses with Special Olympics athletes on tennis court.

John Moreau considers himself very blessed to have both college and Special Olympics experiences and over the years there have been many memorable moments.

Hooked More than 20 Years Ago

Over two decades ago John came to help out at a basketball event and the rest, as they say, is history. He explains, “once you get involved as a volunteer, you are hooked in a wonderful way, asking what can I do next?” Although he admits that in refereeing Special Olympics games he has to be a little more flexible and understanding, at times almost playing a role of a coach on the floor, he sure isn’t ignoring traveling.  

Being attentive to special needs and relating to athletes and their families isn't much of a stretch for Moreau.  His own mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when John was just 6.  He says the experience “made me stronger, the way I look at people, whether they are challenged or not.”  Adding, “That’s what’s so wonderful about Special Olympics, it’s inclusive.  Families provide care giving, 24/7, they are considered the heroes.”


More than Sports

“What most people don’t realize is Special Olympics is about more than sports,” he says.  “It’s about you, and me.  It’s about changing people’s minds and attitudes about people with intellectual disabilities.  It’s about being more inclusive as a society.  It’s not about what people can’t do, but what they can.”

John considers himself very blessed to have both college and Special Olympics experiences and over the years there have been many memorable moments. He says “some of the most amazing athletes I’ve seen are Special Olympics athletes.”  He recalls the determination of one athlete who played exceptionally well with only one leg – and no prosthesis. “The athlete literally hopped during the game and was one of the main playmakers for his team during the entire competition.”  After the tournament concluded, through Special Olympics, several generous donors and physicians provided this athlete with a prosthesis.

Next Stop, Athens

John adds that Special Olympics “made me a better person.” He wishes to give everyone an opportunity to get involved by coming to events and cheering.  “While people with intellectual disabilities may appear different to some, we all have the same heart,” Moreau noted.  “It doesn’t get any better than this.  Come see for yourself.”

What’s next for John Moreau?  John plans to continue his involvement with Special Olympics athletes and families and is heading to this year’s Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens to referee basketball.

Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Help us reach out to one more athlete.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 220 worldwide locations.

FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU »

Videos and Photos

DifferentBarry Cairns tells what it's like to be a Special Olympics athlete.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

SpeechlessSpecial Olympics changed her life in deep and meaningful ways.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Summer GamesAround the world, months of practice are paying off.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Photos on FBSee photos and comments from our supporters around the world.See Photos »


Videos and Photos

Hope in HaitiLeo and Gedeon play in makeshift fields, tent towns, wherever they can.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Finding His VoiceDavid Egan has always dreamed big. Now look at him!Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Sport Teaches UsOur life-changing work is fueled by the power of sport.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Making SuccessDoctors said Lani is “never going to achieve anything.” Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Very Very SpecialMusic helps Special Olympics make an impact worldwide.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Around The WorldGreat photos of Special Olympics events and people.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Focus on ChangeWhat we do can't be done without our partners.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Power of SportsSports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

What We DoSports, health, education, community and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Who We AreWe are athletes, families, celebs, volunteers and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Summer SportsOur athletes run, jump, swim and score in summer.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Playing UnifiedUnified Sports reveals strengths in every team member.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Healthier AthletesOur free health clinics are making a huge difference.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Deon NamisebHe's a speaker and role model. It didn't start that way in Namibia.Learn More »


Special Olympics Blog

Health Needs Need Closer Examination

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."read more »

Posted on 2014-04-07 by Ryan

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan