September 11, 2017 | North America: Kansas

One Year with Special Olympics

By Gina Sumner

We have a daughter that just started Special Olympics about a year ago. She has participated in basketball, power lifting, swimming, track and field and softball. She has learned how to play the sport at her pace. Meeting new kids and not being criticized of any differences. Everyone we have met inView Story We have a daughter that just started Special Olympics about a year ago. She has participated in basketball, power lifting, swimming, track and field and softball. She has learned how to play the sport at her pace. Meeting new kids and not being criticized of any differences. Everyone we have met in this program has a huge heart for these kids. We love it and will continue for years to come to participate in the sports.

About Gina Sumner: We have 3 kids. I work part time so I can get kids to activities when needed
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September 09, 2017 | North America: Kansas

Our first year in Special Olympics

By Gina Sumner

Our family became involved in Special Olympics about a year ago and we plan to continue this involvement.View Story We have a daughter that just started Special Olympics about a year ago. She has participated in basketball, power lifting, swimming, track and field and softball. She has learned how to play the sport at her pace. Meeting new kids and not being criticized of any differences. Everyone we have met in this program has a huge heart for these kids. We love it and will continue for years to come to participate in the sports.

About Gina Sumner: I am a mother of 3 kids. I work part time so I can get kids to activities when needed
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March 19, 2017 | North America: Kansas

Now I Can't Quit

By Rebecca Marie Shepherd

At the age of 18, I joined Special Olympics with The Air Capital Flyers team. It's been an amazing six years since.View Story At the age of 18, I joined Special Olympics with The Air Capital Flyers team. It's been an amazing six years since. My first sport was Basketball and at first, I didn't think I would play anything else, but then I tried golf, then power lifting as new ways to challenge myself. I have now tried almost every sport. Ever since I've been apart of The Air Capital Flyers team, I can't quit. I have even gotten involved with the polar plunge and 5K Strut.

About Rebecca Marie Shepherd : I'm 24 1/2 years old, and an athlete with Special Olympics Kansas.
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October 05, 2016 | North America: Kansas

My Boys

By Michelle

I have always hated the r word, as some of those with that "label" are some of the smartest people I know. They figure out quickly how to play life's games.View Story I am the mom of two wonderful boys that we adopted when they were 8 and 10. The older boy, Joe, has an intellectual disability. I have always hated the r word, as some of those with that "label" are some of the smartest people I know. They figure out quickly how to play life's games. When my son turned 18, I was forced to tell him that he had this disability. I had refused to up to this point as I felt he might use it as a crutch to try. One year before I got him, he was non-verbal, grunting and pointing at things. By the time he graduated high school, he was reading at a 3rd grade level and doing pre-algebra. He insisted on being in as many gen-ed classes as the school would allow. I never saw him as having a disability, just a lack of skills in certain areas. I am proud of the father/husband he has become. Good luck girls. The sky is the limit and with the love you have, you will go far.

About Michelle: I am the mom of 2 wonderful boys that we adopted when they were 8 and 10. The oldest has blessed me with a beautiful granddaughter. We have unofficially adopted 2 girls that were teens as well.
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September 28, 2016 | North America: Kansas

Spreading Awareness to High School Students

By Taylor Rusche

As I got older I realized that people were unconsciously using the R-word...and I was not okay with that.View Story My name is Taylor and I have two uncles who have Down syndrome. One is my mom's brother and the other is my dad's brother. I never saw them as being different when I was growing up. But as I got older I realized that people were unconsciously using the R-word...and I was not okay with that. As a senior in high school, I had to do a senior project. I took my project assignment and turned it into the opportunity to spread awareness about Down Syndrome and getting rid of this hateful word...I was very proud with the outcome and although the video is long I encourage you to watch the video and share it with your friends and family. The sooner we take action, the sooner this word will disappear.

About Taylor Rusche: My name is Taylor Rusche and I am a student at Kansas State University! I believe that we can get rid of the R-word!
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July 27, 2016 | North America: Kansas

once lost but found aceptance through special olympics

By Amy Lou Boyd

I had no one to love and no one loved me. Then in summer of 2008, I found a team called the Emporia Indies.View Story I was a very scared and lost person. I had no one to love and no one loved me. Then in summer of 2008, I found a team called the Emporia Indies. I loved it and participated the best I could. Then in the spring of 2014 I found a team called the Mcpherson Bull Pups and that was when I became a winner. I was smiling and trying my best to become a somebody. And I now officially have a letter for a Special Olympics jacket. I am a very loving and joyful person. I am always wanting to do better and always wanting to encourage people for I know how lost I was and I never want anyone else to be as lost as I was. I know now that just because you have had a bad past doesn't mean that you have to have a bad present and future.

About Amy Lou Boyd: I have been through a lot of stuff. I got given a really bad hand of cards and I gave several people in my younger years problems. Then god came into my life and there will never be a known lonely or sorrowful time
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June 23, 2016 | North America: Kansas

Thank you to my friend!

By Luke Schulte

I often run into people who don't understand why officers carrying a torch through their hometown is such a big deal. One boy does.View Story As I tour Kansas for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, I often run into people and the general public who don't quite understand why officers carrying a torch through their hometown is such a big deal.

But as one parent told me, it meant the world to her little boy, who is also a Special Olympics Kansas athlete.

They were standing on the corner waiting for the officers to carry the "Flame of Hope" through their community. The little boy could see the police cars coming, lights flashing. He anxiously waited on the corner, waiting to see the torch and torch runner.

Once he caught a glimpse, he smiled and waved to the officer. "There's my friend!" he exclaimed. When the mom asked if he knew who that was, his answer was simple. "No, but he has a badge and a torch, so he is my friend!"

His mother relayed this along to me to share with all the officers in Kansas carrying the torch, thanking them for being a friend to her son, whether they know him or not!

About Luke Schulte: I'm VP of Development and Liaison for the Kansas Law Enforcement Torch Run.
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April 24, 2016 | North America: Kansas

The R-Word is Not Okay

By Kacee B

As a young person, I used the word because I thought it was funny, but once my dad told me how one of his sisters was called by the "r-word" at school, it made me sick inside thinking about every time I said it.View Story As a young person, I used the word because I thought it was funny, but once my dad told me how one of his sisters was called by the "r-word" at school, it made me sick inside thinking about every time I said it. When I hear other people saying the "r-word" it makes me cringe because they don't understand the personal hurt they are causing someone. As an educator, I help children learn helpful ways to interact with peers, and hurting others is NOT one of them. Focusing on other's worth and their feelings is most important. It makes me sad to say that I have some family members call my aunt the "r-word." Like, I want to know how it makes her feel when she hears it? She blows it off like it's nothing, but it still makes me hurt inside. My aunt is the most hard working and loving person I know, and she does not deserve that bullying. Nobody deserves to be called the "r-word." We are all unique & people should love that about one another.

About Kacee B: I'm a soon to be educator. I love working with kiddos & find that love is the greatest thing of all.
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April 06, 2016 | North America: Kansas

Roles Reversed: Jayhawks Enriched by Special Olympics Clinic

By KUAthletics.com Copyright 2016 University of Kansas

There were adjectives aplenty following the Special Olympics Clinic hosted by the Kansas swimming and diving team. Fun. Inspiring. Awesome. Great.View Story There were adjectives aplenty following the Special Olympics Clinic hosted by the Kansas swimming and diving team. Fun. Inspiring. Awesome. Great. Most of them came from the Jayhawks themselves, both in person and via social media after. Sure, it was a give-back-to-the-community event for the team, but despite numerous thank-yous from clinic participants, the most thankful might've been the Kansas student-athletes. "I think we get more out of it for sure," Kansas junior Sammie Schurig said of the more than hour and a half session. "I got more out of today than in a long time, I haven't felt that way in awhile. It was really cool. You definitely get a lot out of seeing their joy, their laughter. You can tell that they look up to us and they're just really special people and it was awesome." Pia Pavlic, another junior on the squad, agreed. "The whole experience is just so amazing," Pavlic said. "Seeing them inspires me, it makes me want to work even harder." Read more about this on the Special Olympics Kansas website at the link below.

About KUAthletics.com Copyright 2016 University of Kansas: http://kuathletics.com/news/2016/4/3/swimming-diving-roles-reversed-jayhawks-enriched-by-special-olympics-clinic.aspx
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March 07, 2016 | North America: Kansas

Using the R word

By Rachel

My name is Rachel and I have Down syndrome and my boyfriend to and his name is Alex he also has Down syndrome too. using the R word affects all people in this country and I want it to stop.View Story My name is Rachel and I have Down syndrome and my boyfriend to and his name is Alex he also has Down syndrome too. using the R word affects all people in this country and I want it to stop.

About Rachel : My name is Rachel and I have Down syndrome and I have a boyfriend and his name is Alex Lind he also has Down syndrome we don't use the R word.
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February 16, 2016 | North America: Kansas

Bullies and slur abusers

By Braedyn

Earlier this year people kept treating me like I'm nothing to them. They told secrets, never admitted what they did to me, used me to get in trouble.View Story I'm Braedyn, the smart autism kid, not a disordered one. (sorry for using that word) earlier this year people kept treating me like I'm nothing to them. They told secrets, never admitted what they did to me, use me to get in trouble, and try to get me to take blame for them which doesn't work on me. They kept teasing me too. It wasn't my fault. Also whenever they throw and almost hit me. They laugh and think its funny. I am a smart person which 93% of 7th graders respect me after my stand up for myself post. Most of them understood me and obeyed. I don't get treated like that now 85% of the time now. Lots of the kids in my grade are not bullies. (FYI bullies,keeping secrets about that person and treating them like they are nothing also laughing at them and insults is really mean)

About Braedyn : I'm a nice, great kid, supportive one who likes sports and trivia of sports and plays them that often. Who does school work.
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February 16, 2016 | North America: Kansas

Message to Congress: "Special Olympics saved my life"

By Amie Dugan

Chevi Peters with Special Olympics' Acting CEO Mary Davis at Capitol Hill Day

Special Olympics Kansas athlete Chevi Peters says because of Special Olympics, "After 38 surgeries, including brain surgery, a liver transplant, 2 strokes and a kidney transplant I am stronger than I ever have been."View Story Special Olympics Kansas athlete Chevi Peters gave this speech at the delegates reception of Capitol Hill Day 2016, Special Olympics' annual day of advocacy at the US Capitol, in Washington, DC.

My name is Chevi Peters, I am 31 years old. I am a member of the New Hope Bulldogs from Pittsburg, Kansas and I briefly tell you my story. When I was born, the doctors gave me 2 years to live. After 38 surgeries, including brain surgery, a liver transplant, 2 strokes and a kidney transplant I am stronger than I ever have been.

So I am very glad to be here to tell you my story. In 2003, I graduated from Saint Paul High School and became a volunteer fire fighter for 6 years but something was missing. I had always dreamed of being part of a team and participating in sports. I was at a low spot in my life in 2008. I had been to Special Olympics and signed up, and met Coach Lair.

It was that 20-minute meeting with Coach Lair that probably saved my life. I told him I wanted to be a powerlifter, and he believed in me. After I started Special Olympics, it was amazing all the things that I had not been allowed to do before… were now available to me. In my first year I played Basketball, Softball, Bocce and Powerlifting. I was finally part of a team.

Now I compete in 16 different Sports. My life has been a struggle, but my life is so much better because of Special Olympics. What I love most is the new friends and people you meet, as well as, the chance to compete against other athletes. Some of the greatest moments of my life are because of Special Olympics.

This past year was the highlight so far – being selected to attend World Games to compete in powerlifting. I was honored to be on the stage with Kansas City Chief Player Jamal Charles and give the athlete oath to the 50,000+ people in LA Coliseum during Opening Ceremony. I was honored that ESPN selected me to tell my story of preparing and competing at World Games. I then competed and won 3 gold and 1 silver. It was a great week and one I’ll never forget.

Powerlifting has had a huge impact in my life, and I want to share that with others. Last fall, I because a Certified Powerlifting Coach in Special Olympics Kansas. As a matter of fact, I’m the first athlete in Kansas to receive certification as a coach in any sport. I’m happy to be a part of the next generation of coaches in this organization.

I stand here in front of you as a man that was told that I should not be here. I stand in front of you today as a proud Special Olympics athlete that is making his dreams come true everyday. I am proud to have been selected to be here today for my first Capitol Hill Day. I have had the honor of addressing our Kansas Legislators at an annual event we have in Topeka, but this is my first time in Washington DC.

This is my first Capitol Hill Day and I truly enjoyed the experience today. My favorite moments from Capitol Hill Day was our tour of the Capitol and meeting young athlete Jessie from Mississippi who just started powerlifting. I told him through hard work and dedication, anything is possible. My favorite meeting was with Senator Jerry Moran. He spent a lot of time with us and really made me feel special. I believe that it is important to talk to our Congressional leaders to tell them about our life changing movement and to show them we are changing the world. Special Olympics saved my life. Special Olympics has touched my life and thousands of others in Kansas and the United States.

I hope that our legislators received that message loud and clear today. We need their support and resources.

About Amie Dugan: Director, Marketing and Communications, Special Olympics North America
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February 13, 2016 | North America: Kansas

Arrowhead Middle School Students 'Spread the Word'

By Emile' Ottesen

A group of students from Kansas City, Kansas have joined the campaign, and began spreading the message at a school-wide pep rally earlier this week.View Story A group of students from Kansas City, Kansas have joined the campaign, and began spreading the message at a school-wide pep rally earlier this week. People often wonder (out-loud...to my face) how I "deal" with middle school students "like all day" - and then seem doubly shocked that I wouldn't choose any other way... I could not be more proud of the students at Arrowhead Middle School for their kindness, compassion, empathy, and commitment toward creating a more accepting and inclusive community. Friendship Group has joined the "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign, so please watch the video to see one way they're raising awareness and pledging #respect

About Emile' Ottesen: I'm a special education teacher at a middle school in the Kansas City, Kansas Public School District. I have coached Unified Basketball the last 2 years, and plan to coach Unified Soccer this spring.
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August 14, 2015 | North America: Kansas

I'm an autistic teen

By Cat V.

I am 17 and I am autistic. I stim a lot (which means I flap my hands and yell and jump up and down) because I get very excited and happy sometimes. I am not intellectually disabled- Yet I have been called "retard" so many times from complete strangers.View Story I am 17 and I am autistic. I stim a lot (which means I flap my hands and yell and jump up and down) because I get very excited and happy sometimes. I am not intellectually disabled- Yet I have been called "retard" so many times from complete strangers. This makes me sad, because this word just adds to the stigma of neurological disorders. When I was young, I was always told never to judge a person , but to get to know them first. They have seemed to have forgotten this. Intellectually disabled people are treated as less, and this word is used as an insult, or as a judgement. We are different, not less. Fun fact: For all of those people who judge me before they get to know me, I have straight A's , love to draw and laugh, and have written books. I may never be able to drive, talk fluently, or live fully on my own, but I am still a person, and words can hurt really bad.

About Cat V.: I believe people need to be more educated about neurological disorders and intellectual disability. WE are not mistakes- ignorance is the mistake.
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July 23, 2015 | North America: Kansas

Crazy

By emily

People at my school call me the R word and more. It happend for 4 years straight it was so horrible. I also thought they where my friend and then they said they hate me that hurt the most.View Story People at my school call me the R word and more. It happend for 4 years straight it was so horrible. I also thought they where my friend and then they said they hate me that hurt the most.

About emily : I have severe ADHD
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April 21, 2015 | North America: Kansas

GOING THE WRONG WAY!!!!!!!

By Ian

You're going the wrong way!!!! All of this shunning, has BECOME ASSOCIATED with boys and girls with downs syndrome and other similar DNA defects!View Story You're going the wrong way!!!! All of this shunning, has BECOME ASSOCIATED with boys and girls with downs syndrome and other similar DNA defects! Please... I beg of you. Spread the word that retarded means something that is dumb and looks really foolish. Please. It's a weapon that no one has seen yet. It's a weapon to counterattack the attacks from the media on our younger generation. Please... just make a poster to say in the same format but with a photo of a child with down's syndrome saying in the same font: "I'm not RETARDED. I was just born with a third chromosome." This reminds people of the other colloquial usage of "retarded." It will be more effective. Put the one using the word "chromosome" in high schools with an image of a high school-er with down's syndrome, and make a sign with the image of a younger person with down's syndrome in elementary schools. That's where most of the bullying occurs. Stop it at it's source. Don't eliminate the word. Calling someone => humbleness

About Ian: In 3rd grade, my best friend, Henry, had down's syndrome. When people talked to him like a little kid, I would tell them to speak to him normally that he wasn't stupid. The results were amazing.
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March 29, 2015 | North America: Kansas

"It's just a word"

By Gretchen Shipley

"It's just a word, what's the big deal?," my friends would say. Yes it is a word. A hurtful word. Little do they know that my family tree is packed with relatives that have intellectual disabilities. Autism, Asperger's, Downe's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy.View Story "It's just a word, what's the big deal?," my friends would say. Yes it is a word. A hurtful word. Little do they know that my family tree is packed with relatives that have intellectual disabilities. Autism, Asperger's, Downe's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy. "Why is it acceptable to say the n-word, but not the r-word," they would ask. It's not okay to say any deragatory terms against people with different skin colors, age, sex, religion, or sexuality. I have lost many friends in my battle to stop the r-word from spreading to common vocabulary. I really care about my friends, but I care more about everyone getting along no matter what physical or indirect trait you have. I try my best to spread the word to end the word at my school, but there are more than 1000 kids there, and I can't talk to all of them. We need to do something so each and every one of the students at my school can learn what it means to be respectful of others and be kind to one another.

About Gretchen Shipley: My name is Gretchen and I am 16 years old. I grew up with intellectual disabilities in my family. I do not have one, but I treat my aunt, my cousin, my sister and my niece as if they were "normal".
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March 09, 2015 | North America: Kansas

i was bullied in school and out of school. i know hurt

By Koberly Robbins

This is my story. I was slow as a kid, disabled as an adult, was bullied in school, and it made me cry. People call me r word. Got out school, thought it would be OK but it got worse.View Story This is my story. I was slow as a kid, disabled as an adult, was bullied in school, and it made me cry. People call me r word. Got out school, thought it would be OK but it got worse. Went to a school, Chisholm, for people to get jobs. Worked with Goodwill for long time Got with my husband, he used to bully me, called me r word then told me I should not have kids too because of my disability. Proved them wrong, best mommy I can be for my kids. Love WWE. LOL. Fan for life. Got me through times. I forget and have a good time watching shows. Doing this sign pladge just want say thank you my fav was x pac and hardy boys

About Koberly Robbins : Hi was in Special Olympics in Kansas just want thank you made me cry soo glad guys doing this now we can stop this i was bully has kid whole life thank you wwe Koberly Robbins
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Kansas

Chasing Chase

By Valorie Ebie

In 2004 we were chosen to be the parents of a most wonderful son, Chase. He was a #2 preemie that wasn't supposed to live. At his birth we learned he also had T21 or Down Syndrome.View Story In 2004 we were chosen to be the parents of a most wonderful son, Chase. He was a #2 preemie that wasn't supposed to live. At his birth we learned he also had T21 or Down Syndrome. There's nothing "down" about him! He has been a miracle from the start and we couldn't be any happier with Chase as our son! He's almost run 500 miles and there's nothing stopping him, so if you want to know him, strap on your running shoes! He can do it! Just give him a chance, and "Tag Move It!" Or get out of the way!!!! There's NO stopping our little powerhouse!

About Valorie Ebie: I am blessed to be the Mother of this child. He inspires me everyday. God chose me to be Chase (& his 3 brothers') Mom. Four most precious gifts that I am truly grateful for every single day!
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Kansas

STOP THE R-WORD

By Bill Mondt III

I have a younger sister who has Downs. I have lost friends, gotten into fights, walked out of classes, been asked to leave classes just because of of others using that word.View Story I have a younger sister who has Downs. I have lost friends, gotten into fights, walked out of classes, been asked to leave classes just because of of others using that word. I have pointed out that I am not allowed in society that I cannot use other slurs in referring to others, and this word is the same.Even with all the trouble I have had because my sister is not "normal", I would not change anything about her. Using the r-word just shows ignorance.

About Bill Mondt III: Brother to a disabled sister and volunteer and coach for Special Olympics for 29 years.
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March 03, 2015 | North America: Kansas

West Middle School Eliminates the R-Word

By West Spreads the Word to End the Word!

Students within the Life Skills III classroom at West Middle School learned about the National Campaign, Spread the Word to End the Word. Students wanted to help the cause and make students and staff aware that words can hurt.View Story Students within the Life Skills III classroom at West Middle School learned about the National Campaign, Spread the Word to End the Word. Students wanted to help the cause and make students and staff aware that words can hurt. The class decided to make a video interviewing staff and students on their interpretation of the word and asking them to take the pledge to end the word once and for all!

About West Spreads the Word to End the Word!: My name is Bailey Tennesen. I am a special education teacher at West Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas. My goal is to have students become self-advocates for their disabilities and have a voice.
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March 03, 2015 | North America: Kansas

my litlle sister

By Dakota Essig

Ive listened and fought with people my whole life about using the r word. Im so happy someone is finally putting a stop to it!! Thank you so muchView Story My little sister was born with a rare heart defect and while going through surgery she died and was resuscitated and suffered brain damage and is mentally disabled. She is the most loving caring and intelligent person i have ever met. Ive listened and fought with people my whole life about using the r word. Im so happy someone is finally putting a stop to it!! Thank you so much

About Dakota Essig: Im a 24 yr old staff at a company that assist individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And honestly i wouldnt change it for the world
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February 13, 2015 | North America: Kansas

A Place to Belong

By Amie Dugan

Casey and Mallory of Special Olympics Kansas were history makers they day they were born. They are part of the first quintuplets born in Kansas on July 10 and 13, 1994.View Story Casey and Mallory of Special Olympics Kansas were history makers they day they were born. They are part of the first quintuplets born in Kansas on July 10 and 13, 1994. Three months premature, each of the quints weighed about 1 pound. Many months were spent in Topeka at NICU before they were able to come home right before Thanksgiving. Kasey and Mallory both had eye surgeries, and Kasey had heart surgery when she was 6. Today, Kasey is the tomboy and her favorite sport is basketball. Her hobbies are watching movies, shooting hoops, running and hanging out with family. Mallory is the loud and funny one, her favorite sport is track and her hobbies are baking, bike riding, swimming and playing with her dogs. In high school, their siblings had their own activities, but Mallory and Kasey felt left out because they knew they had challenges that didn’t always allow them to keep up with their sisters. Follow the link to see how Special Olympics changed all that and gave them a place to belong

About Amie Dugan: North America Marketing & Communications
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December 12, 2014 | North America: Kansas

prove them wrong! I'm not R!!!

By Tisha Richardson

I remember when my daughter first started school and was tested on strengths and the teachers conclusion was that she has an intellectual disability.View Story I remember when my daughter first started school and was tested on strengths and the teachers conclusion was that she has an intellectual disability. I made a promise to myself that I would prove her and everyone else was wrong. To this day she has excelled tremendously and is on the same level as her peers! God is so good! I educate my peers about this diagnosis and teach them to not us that horrible word!

About Tisha Richardson: I am the mother of a beautiful little girl with down syndrome and Of a mother of a 16 yr old young man! I have dedicated my life to educating people about down syndrome and not to count people out!
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October 24, 2014 | North America: Kansas

Project Unifiy/WWE Anti-bullying Rally

By Clint Armistead

(from left to right: Renee Young, Mark Henry, Ryan Buckridge (SO athlete), Jade Davila (Unified Partner, Naomi, Dolph Ziggler

WWE Superstars and Divas joined Special Olympics Unified pair, Ryan Buckridge and Jade Davila, in promoting a more inclusive school during a Kansas City, Kansas high school assembly.View Story WWE Superstars and Divas joined Special Olympics Unified pair, Ryan Buckridge and Jade Davila, in promoting a more inclusive school during a Kansas City, Kansas high school assembly. The Be a STAR anti-bullying rally focused on the dangers of cyber-bullying and bystanders, and how Unified Sports and Project Unify can bring people together based on common skills and interests. Thank you to WWE, Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, Naomi, and Renne Young

About Clint Armistead: .
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May 09, 2014 | North America: Kansas

Kansas High Schoolers Fighting the R-word

By Shannon Draper

The Interpersonal Skills class at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, KS created this PSA to spread the word to end the word.View Story The Interpersonal Skills class at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, KS created this PSA to spread the word to end the word. The class combines general-education student mentors with differently abled students to work on peer interaction, social skills, risk taking, and community involvement. I don't work with the class, but I know and have taught some of these kids, and couldn't be prouder of where I work.

About Shannon Draper: I am a teacher, the niece of a man who grew up being labeled by the word and an advocate for the potential to learn in each and every one of us.
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March 14, 2014 | North America: Kansas

My Life

By Chris Tucker

I was placed in special education in the 4th grade. I thought it was going to be the end of everything. I was held back a grade and went into a long depression.View Story I was placed in special education in the 4th grade. I thought it was going to be the end of everything. I was held back a grade and went into a long depression. It was not until I was 15 and in the 9th grade when I was approached by my teacher about playing Special Olympics. When I started Special Olympics it was the greatest thing in the world. I played all the way through high school. Once I graduated I was asked about what I was going to do next in my life. I had no clue. I was asked if I was going to go to college. I told myself that I would try, and I failed badly. I dropped out and started to work in fast food. About 5 years later I met my wife and I knew that working in fast food was not going to pay for a family. I sought after a new career and found one in law enforcement. I am now working in the local county jail. After that I went back to college and received my associates degree, bachelors degree and a masters degree. I learned that I was in control of my disability.

About Chris Tucker: I learned that I was in control of my disability.
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March 08, 2014 | North America: Kansas

Michael

By Jessica G

Michael has taught me so much about love, patience, understanding and acceptance...all while being non-verbal. The r-word was removed from my vocabulary long ago.View Story I met Michael 7 yrs ago. He is my boyfriend's son and he has Autism. My life has changed so much since he came into it. He has taught me so much about love, patience, understanding and acceptance...all while being non-verbal. The r-word was removed from my vocabulary long ago and I feel strongly about educating others to do the same.

About Jessica G:
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December 20, 2013 | North America: Kansas

Making Friends Through Unified Soccer

By Julianne Jackson

Dylan ready to score a goal

In front of a crowd at David Jaynes Stadium, Dylan Clark held his hands tightly intertwined, at the point of turning to white. It was, after all, Clark’s first chance to represent his school in an athletic competition.View Story Dylan Clark’s nervousness was not hard to notice. In front of a crowd at David Jaynes Stadium, Clark held his hands tightly intertwined, at the point of turning to white. It was, after all, Clark’s first chance to represent his school in an athletic competition. When the game ended, though, Clark could not resist cheering his loudest and high-fiving anyone standing within reach, even the other team. This behavior is rarely seen from Clark in the crowded hallways of Bonner Springs High School, but during the halftime showcase of Unified Soccer, it became Clark’s time to shine. “I think he was kind of scared at first but once we talked it over with him and he knew it was going to be fun, I think he really settled into it,” Clark’s mom, Stacy Clark, said. “The interaction part of [the Unified Soccer team] was a huge step for Dylan, I only saw about one or two times where he would try to hide and that was amazing.” Dylan typically kept to himself when passing through the halls. “Now Dylan’s whole demeanor at school has changed since doing soccer,” Unified Coach, Denise Chowning said, “You see his smiles in the hall and he approaches groups of friends,” Stacy said he is excited to start soccer again and is even in the process of teaching his little brother.

About Julianne Jackson: Unified Partner from Bonner Springs High School involved in Friendship Club, School Newspaper and Girls Soccer.
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December 20, 2013 | North America: Kansas

Aspiring to Compete in a National Championship

By Donna Zimmerman

Chevi Peters

The Special Olympics flag football team from "little old Pittsburg, Kansas" went to Nebraska for the Special Olympics National Flag Football Championship. This is a profile of the team and player Chevi Peters.View Story The Special Olympics flag football team from "little old Pittsburg, Kansas" went to Nebraska for the Special Olympics National Flag Football Championship. This is a profile of the team and player Chevi Peters. "He is unbelievable. That guy works year-round for this sport," said his coach, John Lair. "He loves football."

About Donna Zimmerman: I am on the staff of Special Olympics Kansas
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December 20, 2013 | North America: Kansas

Living the Dream of Football in Kansas

By Donna Zimmerman

"Special Olympics is the greatest thing that ever happened to me," says Special Olympics Kansas athlete Cody Pierce. Cody has a heart condition that requires he avoid contact sports, but he can live his dream of football through Special Olympics flag football.View Story "Special Olympics is the greatest thing that ever happened to me," says Special Olympics Kansas athlete Cody Pierce. Cody has a heart condition that requires he avoid contact sports, but he can live his dream of football through Special Olympics flag football. Pierce and his fellow New Hope Bulldogs player Chevi Peters trained and worked hard to attend the Special Olympics National Flag Football Tournament in Nebraska. Learn more about Cody and his quest for football glory in the video below.

About Donna Zimmerman: I am on the staff of Special Olympics Kansas
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December 20, 2013 | North America: Kansas

Always Brave in the Attempt

By Donna Zimmerman

For Allison Nichols of Kansas, stepping on the volleyball court is not just about the competition. It's also about the camaraderie she finds with athletes matched to her abilities.View Story Allison Nichols may not always win, but she is always "brave in the attempt." As a junior at Washburn Rural High School, Allison’s strongest subject is math. She loves reality TV, show tunes and musical movie like “Mamma Mia.” She was also born with Down syndrome, which makes participation on her other love – sports – an inspiration. For Allison, stepping on the volleyball court is not just about the competition. It's also about the camaraderie she finds with athletes matched to her abilities. And the Special Olympics playing field is one where athletes care as much about the other competitors as they do about themselves. Read more about Allison at the link below.

About Donna Zimmerman: I am on the staff of Special Olympics Kansas
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December 19, 2013 | North America: Kansas

Most Inspirational Athlete

By Donna Zimmerman

Bekah Henderson, of the Topeka Jr. Blues, was selected the Most Inspirational Athlete at Summer Games in 2011. Along with that honor, her picture was featured on a billboard promoting Special Olympics Kansas in 2012.View Story Bekah Henderson, of the Topeka Jr. Blues, was selected the Most Inspirational Athlete at Summer Games in 2011. Along with that honor, her picture was featured on a billboard promoting Special Olympics Kansas in 2012.

About Donna Zimmerman: Bekah is a Global Messenger and was also elected to the Big-12 Special Olympics female athlete of the year for the 2012-1013 season http://www.big12sports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=106137&SPID=13138&DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=10410&ATCLID=206546460
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December 19, 2013 | North America: Kansas

"Dad will you be my basketball coach"

By Donna Zimmerman

Katie and Dad, Captain John Cosgrove, Kansas City Kansas Police Dept.

Katie Cosgrove's initial involvement with Special Olympics started with a simple question "Dad will you be my basketball coach?" Since then Katie and her family have never looked back.View Story Katie Cosgrove's initial involvement with Special Olympics started with a simple question "Dad will you be my basketball coach?" Since then Katie and her family have never looked back. Katie is involved in several sports with the Douglas County Jayhawks, has participated in the Polar Plunge, carried the Flame of Hope to the Summer Games and is an active Global Messenger.

About Donna Zimmerman: Staff member
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November 02, 2013 | North America: Kansas

Kansas Special Olympics: An Athlete's Story

By Susan McCabe

Jack, left, and his twin Matt

Jack and his twin Matt bonded before their birth in 2001. The joy of a twin delivery was interrupted by the announcement that Jack had Down syndrome.View Story Jack and his twin Matt bonded before their birth in 2001. Jack's bold confidence brought him into the world at 2:22 a.m., Matt came along at 2:24 and at 2:26 the joy of a twin delivery was interrupted by the announcement that Jack had Down syndrome. The upbeat mood came to a halt; was that the signal for a lifetime of despair? Jump ahead 12 years and nothing could be farther from the truth. Jack, a thriving 7th grader,i s surrounded by friends, a special education team and a network of Special Olympics athletes, coaches and volunteers. At times, Jack and Matt work in tandem on extra-curricular activities, while still carving out their own special interests. For Jack, Special Olympics has provided him with the foundation he craves for sports and an active social life. His love of soccer, volleyball, track and baseball are fueled through weekly practices and seasonal tournaments. His spirit can best be defined by the grin on his face while carrying the torch at a regional competition.It's no surprise that Jack's participation in Special Olypmics provides him with a fulfilling life and experiences. But what did come as a surprise was how the organization acted as a magnet to many of those who have touched Jack's life. From family and friends, to teachers and church members, Jack has touched their lives and introduced them to the joy of volunteering or contributing to Special Olympics.

About Susan McCabe:
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July 08, 2013 | North America: Kansas

Yes, it hurts to hear!!

By Teresa Coppola

Chris the star at six months.

It HURTS to hear people flippantly use the "R" word. Horribly! My baby is three, and obviously different. His issues are enough to cause many raised eyebrows and insults in public.View Story It HURTS to hear people flippantly use the "R" word. Horribly! My baby is three, and obviously different. Although he has no intellectual challenges, his neurological issues are enough to cause many raised eyebrows and insults in public. My baby will always look different. He is visually impaired, hypotonic, and has some tough behavioral issues. I fear he will be judged as less than a person because of his unique challenges. I fear some day he will be called the "R" word, and it breaks my heart. Yes, I realize he will be bullied. All kids are in some way. But when hears his peers say "that's r......." twenty times a day for every thing they don't like, how will he feel when they say that about him? And more than that. I also work with children with disabilities...... some of which received the "MR" diagnosis before. It is painful for them to hear that word used to describe everything not perfect with the world. I am not very P.C. But I do care about the kids' feelings.

About Teresa Coppola: My baby has unique challenges, and he is my miracle. Because of him I found my true dream, working with kiddos with disabilities. I am a para, and have NEVER BEEN HAPPIER!
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May 28, 2013 | SOI General: Headquarters

Biking Athletes in Kansas Lose Over 2000 Pounds

By Karl Hejlik

Kansas was named a Special Olympics Healthy Community for its innovative ways of weaving health into its programming and ensuring that athlete wellbeing is top of mind. One initiative that proves this is the case is Bike4Life.View Story Last year, Kansas was named a Special Olympics Healthy Community for its innovative ways of weaving health into its programming and ensuring that athlete wellbeing is top of mind. One initiative that proves this is the case is Bike4Life. Athletes in the program have become more confident, happier, and healthier by working to lose weight.  “Seeing where these athletes are now, compared to just a year ago – there’s a huge difference.” said John Lair, a Special Olympics coach. “We have parents and volunteers saying all the time how much of a difference this program has made.”  Support from the Kansas Health Foundation has helped make Bike4Life possible, and Special Olympics Kansas is working to find new partners, so even more athletes can make health a major focus in their lives.

About Karl Hejlik: I am the senior manager for health and research communications
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