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Message to Congress: "Special Olympics saved my life"

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

Director, Marketing and Communications, Special Olympics North America