Around the world, people are doing what they can to help the people of Haiti, and Special Olympics is no different wrote Timothy Shriver in a letter on the Special Olympics website asking for any assistance for the athletes of Haiti. “The devastation that has hit Haiti in recent days is almost beyond imagination. Like people all over the world, we join all the people of Haiti in prayer and sympathy at this time of unspeakable loss.” There is still little word on the whereabouts and safety of the athletes, coaches, volunteers and staff members in the country. It is our hope that they are all safe and sound.
Special Olympics Idaho, in particular, has been a community personally affected by this. Having hosted the 2009 World Winter Games there is a particular concern, having met athletes that have been affected by this tragedy. When you can put a name or a voice to something this enormous, the tragedy touches the heart. All of those in Idaho that were involved with the Games are very concerned by the events, both staff and volunteer alike. Nowhere is that more visible than with volunteer Sgt. Andrew Tuttle, with the Idaho National Guard.
Sgt. Tuttle got involved in the 2009 Winter Games and remained involved afterwards by working with the Boise Special Olympics Lions Club was established in Boise during the Winter Games. After the earthquake, he organized to help the athletes and staff in the affected area. Tuttle contacted a local radio station, KAWO Wow Country 104.3, where he had connections with one of the morning show hosts. The host enthusiastically signed on to do a fundraising effort for the Special Olympics Haiti fund set up in Washington, DC. The plan is to do fundraising on the air the week of January 25 to 29, 2010, to promote the fund and help with the fundraising efforts for the program.
In addition, two local newspapers, Idaho Mountain Express and The Idaho Statesman, picked up on the story and have run information on how to contribute. Tuttle’s interest and support of this initiative exemplifies the deep commitment of people involved in the Special Olympics movement.
When natural disasters happen, it always feels more personal when there is a connection to an area or people. It’s no different to the people in Idaho, who worked closely with the Haitians last year. As the information about the fundraising efforts were discussed with Christine Jarski, the Vice-President of Development and Marketing for Special Olympics Idaho, she asked specifically if Special Olympics knew any more news about the people in Haiti. Our thoughts go out to all those touched by the tragedy, and that we will soon know the status of those we haven’t heard anything about.
Money contributed to the fund will help rebuild the program in Haiti. The goal is to ensure that the athletes continue to have the same ability to compete and improve their skills, even as the program is rebuilt. If you are interested, please feel free to look at the letter by Timothy Shriver for more information on how to provide help for the Special Olympics athletes, families, staff and volunteers at: http://www.specialolympics.org/special_olympics_ceo_on_haiti_disaster.aspx