February 27, 2017 | North America: District of Columbia

Resources for 1 March Spread the Word Day

By Christy Weir

On Wednesday, 1 March, Special Olympics will be celebrating the ninth annual Spread the Word to End the Word Day.View Story On Wednesday, 1 March, Special Olympics will be celebrating the ninth annual Spread the Word to End the Word Day. The team has provided some new resources to help you promote the Day and build awareness around using respectful language.

About Christy Weir: I am the Director of Global Media and Public Relations
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July 07, 2016 | North America: District of Columbia

Special Olympics DC Welcomes New CEO, Nicole Preston

By Robyn Markey

Nicole Preston comes to Special Olympics, DC with nearly 30 years of experience in corporate and non-profit organizations.View Story Nicole Preston comes to Special Olympics, DC with nearly thirty years of experience in corporate and non-profit organizations both in the U.S. and abroad. As Managing Director of National Campaign Development with the American Diabetes Association, she led the growth of the Tour de Cure fundraising cycling events from 20,000 to more than 61,000 participants raising over $29 million. Prior to that, Nicole managed large-scale charity events for several charitable organizations including the AIDSRide cycling events and 3-Day Breast Cancer walks, and was instrumental in developing the structure and strategies that led to exponential growth. In the corporate arena, she began her career with Hewlett-Packard in San Jose, California, and then held several positions in management and finance in Fortune 100 corporations including the opening team of Euro Disney in Paris, France. She is a lifelong athlete who has competed in many sports, and continues to be an avid cyclist and tennis player.

About Robyn Markey: Robyn Markey is the interim CEO for Special Olympics DC
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April 27, 2016 | North America: District of Columbia

2016 Special Olympics DC Summer Games

By M.Johnson

Come and cheer on our athletes during our Summer Games as they demonstrate their courage and determination over 8 days of sport competition.View Story Come and cheer on our athletes during our Summer Games as they demonstrate their courage and determination over 8 days of sport competition. This event will be held from May 17-26; at Catholic University, H.D.Woodson Sr. High School Track, Spingarn H.S. Track,and Trinity Washington University. Support our athletes and experience sports in its truest form. The Summer Games is one of the largest Special Olympics District of Columbia events. Over 1000 athletes along with coaches, volunteers, chaperons, family members, and spectators attend each year. The Special Olympics District of Columbia programs are offered at no cost to the athletes or their families. Our Summer Games are proudly presented by Brookfield, our Presenting Sponsor and our Platinum Sponsors BlueCross BlueShield Association, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, District of Columbia.

About M.Johnson: I am on the Special Olympics DC Staff
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April 15, 2016 | North America: District of Columbia

Thank You Washington All-Stars!

By Kraig Makohus

On March 31, 2016, Special Olympics District of Columbia received a check for $13,124.50 from the Washington All-Stars (adult league baseball).View Story On March 31, 2016, Special Olympics District of Columbia received a check for $13,124.50 from the Washington All-Stars (adult league baseball). This annual support started 19 years ago through friends and employees of Sargent Shriver and his law firm, Fried, Frank, and Harris, Shriver & Jacobson who chose Special Olympics as their charity of choice. Over the course of the last 19 years, they have raised more than $400,000 for Special Olympics and have evenly split their donation between Special Olympics and Special Olympics District of Columbia. Thank you to the Washington All-Stars for continuing this legacy of love for baseball and Special Olympics!

About Kraig Makohus: Uniting the District Through Sports
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March 04, 2016 | North America: District of Columbia

That’s a wrap on the 2016 Special Olympics D.C. Polar Plunge season!

By Special Olympics DC

"Plunger Man"

That’s a wrap on the 2016 Special Olympics D.C. Polar Plunge season! On behalf of the Special Olympics D.C. Board, Volunteers, Unified Partners and most importantly, the Athletes, THANK YOU!View Story That’s a wrap on the 2016 Special Olympics D.C. Polar Plunge season! On behalf of the Special Olympics D.C. Board, Volunteers, Unified Partners and most importantly, the Athletes, THANK YOU! Over 400 supporters, business leaders, law enforcement, school administrators, school staff and students, pro sports staff, volunteers, parents, and Special Olympics athletes…all who took the plunge at one of our four Polar Plunges and helped raise over $145,000 for the athletes of Special Olympics D.C.! Your support ensures that the nearly 1,600 athletes who participate in our program continue to have the ability to grow and achieve more through the power of sports. Huge thank you to our many volunteers including AmeriCorps FEMA, Metropolitan Police Department, D.C. Fire and EMS, Special Olympics, SODC Unified Partners, and Catholic University SAAC. Also, huge thank you to our D.C. Polar Plunge partners: the Independent Order of Odd Fellows D.C., Catholic University of America, Downtown D.C., Events D.C., Coca-Cola, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics D.C.

About Special Olympics DC: SODC Staff
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February 02, 2016 | North America: District of Columbia

It's Plunge Season!

By Kraig Makohus

Special Olympics D.C. in partnership with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for SODC announce the 2016 D.C. Polar Plunge season!View Story Special Olympics D.C. in partnership with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for SODC announce the 2016 D.C. Polar Plunge season! On February 19, there's a Power Lunch Plunge at Mount Vernon Square, and on February 25, it's the Cool Schools and University Plunges at Catholic University. On February 28, we'll have the D.C. Polar Plunge, also at Catholic University The Special Olympics D.C. Polar Plunge brings together children and adults who are interested in two things: raising money to support the athletes of Special Olympics D.C. and having fun doing something wild! In its 3rd year, the D.C. Polar Plunge has generated $200,000 annually and is becoming the cool thing to do to support the nearly 1,600 athletes of Special Olympics D.C. How can you get involved? • Register to Plunge at www.plungedc.org, see link below! • Get a group together and create a team to Plunge! • Ask your company if they would sponsor you or match your fundraising efforts! • Ask your company to become a D.C. Polar Plunge Partner! • Volunteer at one of the Plunges!

About Kraig Makohus: Kraig is the CEO of Special Olympics DC and an avid plunger...
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October 20, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

30th Anniversary of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics DC

By By Kraig Makohus

Over 400 members of DC law enforcement, representing 24 different agencies, carried the "Flame of Hope" from the steps at the US Capitol to Ft. McNair to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics District of Columbia!View Story Over 400 members of DC law enforcement, representing 24 different agencies, carried the "Flame of Hope" from the steps at the US Capitol to Ft. McNair to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics District of Columbia! This landmark event on October 16 was one of a few in the United States among Programs that have reached the 30 year mark. For the second year, Geico returned as the Presenting Partner of the Torch Run and with their support, the event passed last year's total raised. The event was kicked off with US Capitol Police Ceremonial Color Team and Sgt David Nelson singing the National Anthem. DC athlete Novie Craven got the group inspired with her words of encouragement and World Games athlete, Demetrius Cutchin ran with the Top Gun team. US Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine and Ast. Chief Patrick Burke from the DCPD thanked & recognized the Top Gun winners, including Team: DCPD, Individual: Patrick Loftus & Angie Robinson from DCPD Runner Up: Customs & Border Protection and ATF.

About By Kraig Makohus: Kraig currently serves as President and CEO of SODC.
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October 20, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

World Games Athlete Recognized By DC Council!

By Kraig Makohus

Cutchin with DC Council

On October 6, H.D. Woodson High School graduate Demetrius Cutchin was honored and recognized with a proclamation at the Washington, D.C., City Council meeting for his efforts at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.View Story On October 6, H.D. Woodson High School graduate Demetrius Cutchin was honored and recognized with a proclamation at the Washington, D.C., City Council meeting for his efforts at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Demetrius served as the lone representative for the District of Columbia and he did not disappoint. He brought home a bronze medal for the 100M Run with a time 00:12.63 , a fourth place ribbon for 400M Run with a time of 00:59.13, and his team was awarded the gold medal in the 4x400M Relay with a time of 04:33.60. The Proclamation was sponsored by Councilman David Grosso, Chairperson, Committee on Education and supported by Councilwoman Yvette Alexander and Councilwoman LaRuby May. In addition to many members of Demetrius’ family in attendance, 12 students from H.D. Woodson High School (former classmates and current fellow Special Olympics D.C. athletes), along with Regina Woods (H.D. Woodson High School staff and DC Coach), Gail Jones and Principal Darrin Slade from H.D. Woodson High School.

About Kraig Makohus: Kraig currently serves as the President and CEO for Special Olympics District of Columbia. Previously, Kraig worked for Special Olympics Pennsylvania as their Senior Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships.
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August 31, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

Special Olympics D.C. to represent D.C. United in Unified Sports soccer match.

By Maria-Nelly Johnson

On Aug. 30, D.C. United, the Red Bulls and Special Olympics partnered to conduct a Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer match between Special Olympics New Jersey and Special Olympics District of Columbia following an MLS regular season match.View Story On Aug. 30, D.C. United, the Red Bulls and Special Olympics partnered to conduct a Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer match between Special Olympics New Jersey and Special Olympics District of Columbia following the MLS regular season match between D.C.United and the Red Bulls Union. Sunday’s Special Olympics match showcased the Unified Sports exchange program that is the cornerstone of the ongoing partnership between MLS and Special Olympics North America. Through the Unified Sports soccer exchange program, Unified soccer teams from MLS cities travel to other MLS markets to receive training from MLS players and coaches, as well as compete in exhibition matches with their Special Olympics counterparts in that MLS market. Unified matches are scheduled in conjunction with MLS club matches, providing MLS fans with an opportunity to witness first-hand, the talents and abilities of Special Olympics soccer players.

About Maria-Nelly Johnson: SODC Staff
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August 20, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

Athletes Return Home to Praise and Recognition

By Kate McKenna

The talents of Special Olympics athletes were on full display during the nine-day World Games in Los Angeles. And their achievements continue to make an impact.View Story The talents of Special Olympics athletes were on full display during the nine-day World Games in Los Angeles. And their achievements continue to make an impact in the 165 countries that took part, as leaders in the highest levels of government and across society speak out about the talents and achievements of our athletes. From India to Israel, in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas, Special Olympics athletes have been welcomed home to national acclaim and, in several cases, governmental pledges of renewed support for their Special Olympics programs in particular and for people with intellectual disabilities overall. This attention from Presidents, Prime Ministers, Sports Ministry officials, cultural and business leaders can have long-lasting effect – especially in parts of the world where people with intellectual disabilities face severe isolation and stigma. In those countries, what might seem like a simple “welcome home” for athletes can mark a turning point in policy.

About Kate McKenna: I am the director of editorial and multimedia for Special Olympics.
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August 14, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

2015 World Games: Congratulation Demetrius!

By Maria-Nelly Johnson

Gold Medals 4x400M Relay Photo Courtesy Sean Maxey

From July 25-August 2 Special Olympics DC, Demetrius competed at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, California. Demetrius's hard work paid off.View Story From July 25-August 2 Special Olympics DC athlete Demetrius Cutchin competed at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, California. Demetrius's hard work paid off, he was awarded a bronze medal for the 100M Run with a time 00:12.63 , a fourth place ribbon for 400M Run with a time of 00:59.13, and his team was awarded the gold medal in the 4x400M Relay with a time of 04:33.60. The World Games was the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015. 6,500 athletes representing 165 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers participated in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

About Maria-Nelly Johnson: Special Olympics DC Staff
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August 14, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

Special Olympics Unified Sports -- All-Star Soccer Match

By Maria-Nelly Johnson

On Tuesday, July 28, MLS WORKS hosted a Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star soccer match featuring Special Olympics All-Stars from different cities.View Story On Tuesday, July 28, MLS WORKS hosted a Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star soccer match featuring Special Olympics All-Stars from different cities. The two Unified Sports All-Star soccer teams played a two 20-minute halves, at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO. Special Olympics Unified teams received training from MLS players and coaches. Special Olympics DC Athletes, Taquane Day and Joelle Fret were invited to participate in this event. MLS WORKS and Special Olympics are working together to leverage the power of sports to promote an environment of social inclusion and acceptance, by uniting people with and without intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics Unified Sports.

About Maria-Nelly Johnson: SODC Staff
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April 27, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

District of Columbia Athlete Is Heading to LA for the World Games

By Maria-Nelly Johnson

Demetrius Cutchin of Washington, D.C.

In 2015 Demetrius will represent team USA at the 2015 World Games in track and field as a level three athlete. Demetrius started participating in Special Olympics as a middle school student. His first exposure to training and competition was in individual skills golf back in 2006. Throughout midView Story A Special Olympics athlete from Washington, D.C., will compete in track and field events at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. Demetrius Cutchin will be part of the Special Olympics USA team, one of about 170 teams from the around the world. Demetrius, 21, started participating in Special Olympics as a middle school student. His first exposure to training and competition was in individual skills golf back in 2006. Throughout middle school, he participated in track and field and speed skating. It was not until he reached high school that he fully realized that he could excel through participation in sports with Special Olympics. With the encouragement of his high school teachers and coaches, he further branched out to try team volleyball, Unified soccer and the military 4 x 100 meter Unified relay. Demetrius currently participates in at least one sport per training season with Special Olympics District of Columbia and has grown tremendously as an athlete and young man since beginning with Special Olympics.

About Maria-Nelly Johnson: Director of Finance and Administration for Special Olympics District of Columbia.
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April 22, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

Wizards help DC to Spread the Word to End the Word

By Maria-Nelly Johnson

In an effort to raise awareness for the Special Olympics Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, Wizards players participated in a Special Olympics DC Unified basketball game at St. Coletta’s.View Story In an effort to raise awareness for the Special Olympics Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, Wizards players participated in a Special Olympics DC Unified basketball game at St. Coletta’s. A Special Olympics unified game involves teams made up of a mix of people with and without intellectual disabilities. John Wall, Marcin Gortat, Garrett Temple, Otto Porter, Ramon Sessions and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt(Washington Mystics) served as honorary coaches, referees, and game announcers during the game on April 2. The Spread the Word campaign encourages people to not use the word "retard" thoughtlessly. You can see highlights of the game at the link below.

About Maria-Nelly Johnson: I am a Special Olympics DC Staff Member
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March 27, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

Special Olympics D.C. Announces New President and CEO

By Robyn Markey

Kraig Makohus - Special Olympics DC New President & CEO

The Board of Directors of Special Olympics D.C. announces the appointment of Mr. Kraig Makohus as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the organization.View Story The Board of Directors of Special Olympics D.C. announces the appointment of Mr. Kraig Makohus as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the organization. Makohus comes to Special Olympics D.C. with more than 20 years experience working with individuals with intellectual disabilities to improve their quality of life and opportunities through work in the areas of residential, vocational, employment and recreational services, including leadership positions with Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania. Most recently, Makohus spent the last five years with Special Olympics Pennsylvania, where he was charged with building and leading their efforts in Western Pennsylvania, with a focus in the Greater Pittsburgh market. Kraig holds an MBA from Waynesburg University and a BA in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.

About Robyn Markey:
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March 05, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

Georgetown Visitation Best Buddies Chapter Spreads the Word to End the Word

By Moira Griffith

Today, the Best Buddies Club at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School is having a meeting to honor Spread the Word to End the Word Day. Kelvin, a Best Buddies ambassador is coming to our school to speak about his experience with Best Buddies and why the r-word is offensive to him.View Story Today, the Best Buddies Club at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School is having a meeting to honor Spread the Word to End the Word Day. Kelvin, a Best Buddies ambassador is coming to our school to speak about his experience with Best Buddies and why the r-word is offensive to him. Also, Tommy McFly from 94.7 Fresh Fm is coming to speak! We are excited to commemorate the day and spread awareness.

About Moira Griffith: My name is Moira Griffith, and I am a senior in high school. I am the president of the Best Buddies Club at Georgetown Visitation. I have been involved with Best Buddies throughout all of high school.
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July 25, 2014 | North America: District of Columbia

U.S. Athlete Joins a Presidential Committee

By Meredith Ciaccia

Ricardo Thornton (photo by US Department of Labor)

Earlier this month, President Obama appointed Special Olympics athlete Ricardo Thornton to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.View Story Earlier this month, President Obama appointed Special Olympics athlete Ricardo Thornton to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID). PCPID provides advice and assistance to the President of the United States and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on a broad range of topics that impact people with intellectual disabilities. The Committee’s goal to improve the quality of life that is experienced by people with intellectual disabilities, by upholding their full citizenship rights, independence, self-determination, and life-long participation in their respective communities. In addition to his activities with Special Olympics, Thornton, who works at the DC Public Library, belongs to Project ACTION!, a coalition of adults with disabilities and the D.C. Developmental Disabilities Council and acts with the theater group Players Unlimited. Thornton and his wife, Donna, were also the subjects of “Profoundly Normal”, a 2003 Lifetime channel movie.

About Meredith Ciaccia: I am the Coordinator for Global Development and Government Relations at Special Olympics.
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March 04, 2014 | North America: District of Columbia

Siblings in the seventies

By B. Smith

I am glad to see that there is now a internet collective, creating more widespread awareness of how damaging this type of ignorance can be.View Story My younger sister had Cerebral Palsy, and we grew up in America in the seventies. Thank goodness for Special Olympics and like programs started then that created ground breaking social venues connecting and sharing interactive time socially between the special needs community and family. My sister ( She was a year younger than I), had little connection within the "normal" environment of our local neighborhood. " Retard " was often the normal street slang used, a flippant derogatory term eagerly used by both youth and older adults, in a variety of applications, always demeaning. Sometimes It was difficult just to share a neighborhood walk to the corner store without some required defense of derogatory language. I am glad to see that there is now a internet collective, creating more widespread awareness of how damaging this type of ignorance can be.

About B. Smith: Surviving sibling
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January 30, 2014 | SOI General: Headquarters

African Leaders Gather to Act on Disability

By Lynn Aylward

Malawi is one of 14 worldwide pilots for the Special Olympics Healthy Communities initiative, creating a year-round community-based approach to health for people with intellectual disabilities. Health Communities works to decrease health disparities and improve health for people with intellectual disabilities. Photo by Kristin Hughes

Special Olympics and Her Excellency President Joyce Banda of the Republic of Malawi are convening an African Leaders Forum on Disability in Lilongwe, Malawi on February 9 to 11.View Story Special Olympics and Her Excellency President Joyce Banda of the Republic of Malawi are convening an African Leaders Forum on Disability in Lilongwe, Malawi on February 9 to 11. Leaders along with other doers and shakers from government, disability organizations, development agencies, the private sector, and civil society are meeting to challenge the gross inequality and exclusion and the lower access to health, education, and employment faced by people with disabilities, especially those with intellectual disabilities.  Because the Forum will gather African government ministers, representatives of the world’s top aid agencies, Special Olympics athletes, sports celebrities, pop stars, and private sector executives, it is akin to a “Disability Davos,” a reference to the recently concluded annual Alpine meeting of luminaries who gather to improve the world and shape global agendas. The Forum will establish a coalition of leaders who are committed to addressing the inequality and marginalization faced by people with intellectual disabilities with a concrete action plan. Some of the organizations that are attending are the African Union, USAID, UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Catholic Relief Services. Forum partners in addition to the Republic of Malawi include the Golisano Foundation, Lions Club International, and UNICEF.

About Lynn Aylward: I am the Senior Manager of Global Health and Development Communications
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January 30, 2014 | SOI General: Headquarters

A Memorable Experience Working At Special Olympics Head Office, Washington, D.C.

By Huiseon Son

Picture of me and Special Olympics athletes during the 2013 Fall Sports Classic in Washington, D.C.

I was an intern with Special Olympics International (SOI) for 6 months working in Human Resources (HR) Department. It was the best time I have had in my life.View Story I was an intern with Special Olympics Inc. (SOI) for 6 months working in Human Resources (HR) Department. It was one of the best times I have had in my life. The most valuable aspect of my internship was to get to know professional people who are working there to make a better world. Every employee sincerely tries to help people with intellectual disabilities. Their efforts inspire me to think deeply about disabled people. Even if I will not work in this field in the future, I want to help them in many ways. I have attached a picture taken when I volunteered for 2013 Fall Sports Classic competition in Washington, D.C. This was the first time I was able to get involved in a Special Olympics event. It was amazing to help the athletes and meet many great volunteers. I was able to learn how a regional game operates. I heartily appreciate the HR team for giving me a once-in-a-life-time chance to work there. After I return to Korea, I will try to help spread the word about Special Olympics.

About Huiseon Son : I was Special Olympics intern for 6 months - August 2013 to January 2014.
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December 19, 2013 | North America: District of Columbia

US Assistant Secretary of Labor Points to Achievements of Special Olympics Athletes

By Lynn Aylward

US Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathleen Martinez has penned a great blog on how sports, a cultural force engrained in the American psyche, is a powerful change agent, impacting perceptions about and achievements of people with disabilities.View Story US Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathleen Martinez has penned a great blog on how sports, a cultural force engrained in the American psyche, is a powerful change agent, impacting perceptions about and achievements of people with disabilities. Martinez writes about the new campaign of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) to highlight the talents of people with disabilities. PBATS are the people who will soon (OK, it's not even the first day of winter yet but we can dream) be getting the players from all 30 major league baseball clubs back in shape at Spring Training. Martinez, who didn't let being blind drydock her from learning to sail as a teen, cites Special Olympics data that show that 52 percent of US adult Athletes are employed, compared to an estimated employment rate of around 10 percent for adults with intellectual disabilities in general.

About Lynn Aylward: Lynn Aylward works on communications at Special Olympics International.
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December 11, 2013 | SOI General: Headquarters

Tim Shriver Speaks About Mandela Legacy

By Christy White

Yesterday, Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver sat down with hosts on MSNBC's The Cycle for a special tribute to Nelson Mandela.View Story Yesterday, Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver sat down with hosts on MSNBC's The Cycle for a special tribute to Nelson Mandela. "Mandela was South Africa's father, but he belonged to every nation," Shriver said. "He recognized the primal nature of the racial divisions and saw the marginalizations of many populations. Mandela went to Robben Island and visited his cell and lit a ceremonial flame of hope with a person from the United States who was also imprisoned against his will only because he had an intellectual disability -- [Special Olympics District of Columbia Athlete] Ricardo Thornton. "Mandela was a unifier. He dedicated his birthday to children with special needs. He could see those who were left out. Wherever he saw them, he had the act of being a unifier. Mandela's great legacy is not just about politics, but about human hearts and being more open to being inclusive to all. We are looking for champions of unity and Mandela helped us get there."  To view the entire interview, click below.

About Christy White: I am the Director of Global Media and Public Relations for Special Olympics.
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September 12, 2013 | SOI General: Headquarters

Special Olympics and U.S. State Department Coaching Fellowship

By Jenna Briggs

Special Olympics International and The Department of State selected 10 Fellows from Serbia, Montenegro, and the U.S. to participate in the Special Olympics Coaching Fellowship from May 9th to May 17th in Montenegro.View Story Special Olympics International and The Department of State selected 10 Fellows from Serbia, Montenegro, and the U.S. to participate in the Special Olympics Coaching Fellowship from May 9th to May 17th in Montenegro. The fellows were led by Andre Peeters in a day of football with SO Montenegro athletes and Unified Partners. US Ambassador Susan K. Brown joined them during their second day of play, speaking at opening ceremonies with coverage filmed by the national news. During their time in Montenegro, the fellows sat in on presentations given by professors from the University of Montenegro in Niksik on injury prevention, training and food and nutrition. Facilitated discussions, led by Aldis Berzins and Jenna Briggs, informed the participants on SOI initiatives and development model. At the end of October, Fellows will visit the U.S., touring DC and its embassies, spending time at SOI, observing an inclusive classroom and attending the Pennsylvania Fall Games at Villanova University.

About Jenna Briggs: I'm Jenna Briggs and I manage the State Department, Department of Defense, and Mattel grants at SOI.
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May 30, 2013 | North America: District of Columbia

Unified Volleyball - Just as fun as the first time!

By Chris Parker Hunt

Our Team name was the "DC Stars"

My second round of playing Unified Volleyball with Special Olympics athletes from District of Columbia, proved to be just as rewarding and fun as the first time.View Story My second round of playing Unified Volleyball with Special Olympics athletes from District of Columbia, proved to be just as rewarding and fun as the first time. We definitely had more time and space to practice all season and all of us improved. During the Summer Games opening tournament we won 2 out of 3 games – all against tough opponents and we walked away with 5th place participation ribbon. We will have to work harder to get the gold! One of the athletes I play with was featured on the local news…Check it out. Jerome is amazing! Can’t wait for next season when we compete again and hope to make it to the medal round!

About Chris Parker Hunt: I am the VP of Strategic Gifts and Development Operations at Special Olympics and I am happiest when playing Unified Sports!
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May 10, 2013 | SOI General: Headquarters

Be Beautiful, Be Yourself!

By Chris Parker Hunt

Congratulations to Anna and John Sie and Michelle and Tom Whitten on their successful Be Beautiful, Be Yourself Gala held this past week at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, DC. The Sie and Whitten families are tremendous advocates for people with Down syndrome and Special Olympics.View Story Congratulations to Anna and John Sie and Michelle and Tom Whitten on their successful Be Beautiful, Be Yourself Gala held this past week at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, DC. The Sie and Whitten families are tremendous advocates for people with Down syndrome, and not surprisingly, supporters of Special Olympics. Like Special Olympics events, the Gala celebrated people’s differences in an inclusive, fun, and engaging way. Many Special Olympics athletes walked across the stage to uproarious applause, flashing cameras, and giant smiles from the audience. Kudos to the Sie and Whitten families on a great event that celebrates the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. See the attached picture of a few of our Special Olympics staff that attended: Kester Edwards, Jerry Holy, Amy Shellard, and myself, and Sebastian Hernandez, one of the stars featured for the evening.

About Chris Parker Hunt: Vice President, Strategic Gifts and Development Operations
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March 18, 2013 | North America: District of Columbia

Let's Help 'Spread the Word to End the Word'

By Naba Sharif, M.D.

When I hear the word "retarded" used to describe someone or something that is unintelligent, silly or even as a filler word when another adjective doesn't suffice, it literally makes me cringe.View Story Here's the introduction to my column on the R-word for Huffington Post: "When I hear the word "retarded" used to describe someone or something that is unintelligent, silly or even as a filler word when another adjective doesn't suffice, it literally makes me cringe. Worse yet is when I hear it being used to actually describe someone with a disability in a derogatory way. As a physician, I am versed in the fact that long ago, the word used to be a simple clinical term to describe those with developmental delays or cognitive disabilities. However, urbandictionary.com reminds us that "stupid" and "wasted" have since been more predominant uses." Read more at the link below.

About Naba Sharif, M.D.: Naba Sharif, M.D. is Director of the Allergy/Asthma Division at one of the largest multi-specialty medical practices in the Washington, DC area. Naba has consistently merged her passions for humanitarian and outreach work, particularly related to disadvantaged communities, international health and interfaith dialogue. She has worked in Guatemala treating orphans and was invited to Israel/Palestine as an instructor to gifted teenagers for innovative interfaith programs. She has organized several free health fairs domestically and serves as a Physicians for Human Rights Asylum Network Provider. Naba was honored by the U.S. Department of Justice with the U.S. Young American Medal for Service. Following an M.D. with Distinction in Research, she has had several academic publications. She is a columnist for the online newspaper Patch and is the editor for the American Muslim Health Professionals blog.
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March 07, 2013 | North America: District of Columbia

Honorary "Congresswoman" Kayla McKeon

By Drew Boshell

Special Oympics New York Athlete Kayla McKeon experiences a day in the life of Congressman Peter King.

Kayla McKeon experienced first hand what is was like to be in the hot seat of politics on Capitol Hill Day.View Story Kayla McKeon experienced first hand what is was like to be in the hot seat of politics on Capitol Hill Day. As Congressman Peter King was called to congress to vote, Kayla was offered to try out his desk for size and see if she could reach the President on the phone. Kayla is used to the pressure playing as a Special Olympics New York hockey goalie. On the rink she can often be heard taunting her competitors with her favorite saying "Not in my house." Sounds like something a politician might say. She even sounded like a seasoned politician as she stressed the importance of Special Olympics and the profound impact it has had on her life to Members of Congress and staff. To say the least, Congressman's King's staff treated us like royalty and we are so thankful for his incredible support of Special Olympics and co-sponsoring the EKS Act. But don't leave your desk for too long, "Congresswoman Kayla" does have a nice ring to it.

About Drew Boshell: Senior Director, Global Community Health Programs
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February 05, 2013 | North America: District of Columbia

Skating With a Legend

By Aleathia Hawkins

I bought my nephew O'conner Anderson III his first set of Roller blades at the age of 6, little did i know that it would turn into 2 Gold, 1 Silver and a Bronze medal at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games.View Story I brought my nephew O'conner Anderson III his first set of Roller blades Christmas at the age of 6 because he wanted to learn to skate, little did i know that it would turn into 2 Gold, 1 Silver and a Bronze medal at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games. One of my fondest memeories will be of my nephew skating with Legend Apolo Ohno. Lesson learned "You can do all things through Christ".

About Aleathia Hawkins: Im O'Conner's Aunt who supprts him in all he does.
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February 02, 2013 | North America: District of Columbia

Special Olympics televised live! (on a bus?)

By Drew Boshell

Today I was sad to leave the Special Olympics World Winter Games, one of the most amazing experiences I have had.View Story Today I was sad to leave the Special Olympics World Winter Games, one of the most amazing experiences I have had. From shaking hands with a fellow Canadian and new personal hero Matthew Williams, to seeing droves of athletes from around the world being cared for by world class medical volunteers at Healthy Athletes, I left proud being connected to such an amazing organization. Ironically, because of my work I didn't get to see any competition, so you can imagine my delight to see the Kenya vs Korea floor hockey game televised live on my bus from Gangueng to Seoul. What a perfect ending to an incredible experience. I am a fan!

About Drew Boshell : Senior Director, global community health programs. Based in the SOI DC office currently leading implementation of Healthy Communities initiative.
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December 14, 2012 | North America: District of Columbia

Global Youth Leaders Make Their Presence Known

By Ron Vederman

Brina Maximo, Special Olympics Philippines Athlete and 2013 GYAS partcipant.

Youth leaders from 22 countries are preparing now for their gathering in Korea at the Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit during the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games.View Story Youth leaders from 22 countries are preparing now for their gathering in South Korea at the Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit, which will be in the Republic of Korea during the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in late January, 2013. An example of the SOI Strategic Plan for youth governance can be found in The Philippines with Ms. Brina Kei Maxino, who is on their national stage promoting youth engagement with enthusiastic support of the Special Olympics Program leadership helping to arrange spgaking engagements, media interviews and partnership meetings for Brina and her partner, Isabela (Sashi) Montana, prior to their departure in January to Korea.

About Ron Vederman: 2013 Global Youth Activation Summit Director
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October 23, 2012 | North America: District of Columbia

You might feel fantastic

By Christine Parker Hunt

Pre-Game "Shouting Bobcats" Team photo

I joined Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball this past winter and had an absolute blast. I have been incredibly inspired working with athletes from all over the world and seeing their skills and talents. But what has been so much fun about the team I played on recently has been that it’s not work, it’s play.View Story I joined Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball this past winter and had an absolute blast. I have worked and volunteered for Special Olympics over the past 10 years. I have prepped athletes for big and small events, with the press, for fundraising purposes. Athletes helped me with complex projects – fundraising, IT, and board training. We’ve visited members of Congress, and the athlete led the conversation. I have been incredibly inspired working with athletes from all over the world and seeing the varied skills and talents in the office. But what has been so much fun about the team I played on recently has been that it’s not work, it’s play. It’s fun. And this “don’t-reward-yourself-with-fun-kind-of-New-England-puritan” re-discovered the joy of sport 25 years after high school. I re-discovered quickly bonding with teammates, sharing the fun, responsibility and experience of competitions. Eye contact, passing the ball, hustling, high-fiving, coaching each other, giving it your all --together. Sharing a bad ref call, going nuts at the buzzer, rallying around your teammate at the foul line, cheering when your teammate steals the ball and fast breaks for a lay-up. No emails, no memos, no meetings, no conference calls. It’s learning what to do through playing together. On our team, all the labels were ripped off. Everyone’s disabilities disappeared. Measure my self-esteem before and after the 8 weeks? It was up! My basketball skills before and after – they improved, too. And if someone had asked my family and employer about how I was doing socially, physically, mentally, they all would have reported: She’s really happy! So, for those work-a-holics out there who don’t have time to get into shape or who don’t feel satisfied with going to the gym, or don’t have a lot of time to make friends or want to join a sports team but are afraid ….I suggest you try Special Olympics Unified Sports….and have fun. The risk is you might feel fantastic.

About Christine Parker Hunt: I'm Senior Director of Strategic Gifts at Special Olympics headquarters. I played in an adult league as described above and we scrimmaged every Tuesday night at St. Coletta’s in Washington, DC for about 2 hours. When that ended, I quickly joined the Special Olympics DC Volleyball league, also on Tuesday night’s at Gonzaga High school so I could continue to feel fantastic.
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September 05, 2012 | North America: District of Columbia

An Experience to Remember

By Rafael Pacheco

The team huddles up as we prepare for the second half.

What I experienced changed my thoughts about people with intellectual disabilities forever.

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When I entered the Basketball Gym at St. Coletta School in Washington D.C., I didn’t know what expect. I just knew that I was there to participate in a Special Olympics Unified Sports basketball league. What I experienced changed my thoughts about people with intellectual disabilities forever. The same feelings, emotions and teammate bonding that I had experienced in the past were present while playing with my Unified Sports team. There was a game where my team had clawed their way back from a 20 point deficit in the 2nd half. It was a tie game with 10 seconds left and the other team had possession. People in the stands were yelling at the top of their lungs. In a split second, we steal the ball, launch a pass down court to one of our athletes and he gets fouled. He steps up to line, misses the first shot and puts his head down. I walk over and tell him “You got this!” Then I hear SWISHHH, the crowd erupts and rushes the court. I will never forget that transformational moment!

About Rafael Pacheco: I live in Washington and work for Special Olympics.
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