Joy Kolesky is a retired sales and marketing manager in the telecommunications industry. But more importantly, Joy is one of Special Olympics’ biggest cheerleaders and ambassadors.
Her late brother, John, is her inspiration. A person with intellectual disabilities, John was among the first to benefit from Special Olympics when it came to Southern California in the late 1960s.
Joy was immediately in awe of how Special Olympics modified sports so John and his friends in the service center where he lived could participate. Until then, John and their family had experienced public ridicule. “People would stop and stare and make comments about John,” Joy shares. “It confused and angered me that so many people seemed insensitive toward anyone different.” But John’s happiness and pleasure in participation were especially meaningful as a result: “The seed was planted when I saw his transformation!”
Fifteen years later, when she was reminded of John’s positive experiences with Special Olympics, Joy attended the Summer Games in Long Beach, California. She could feel the energy as she approached the stadium, and she began to cry when she saw thousands of people there for one purpose: to celebrate the achievements of people with IDs. Joy felt a deep happiness in experiencing what Special Olympics had done for her family, community, and the world. She has witnessed people with IDs feel respected, loved, and unique. “The change is authentic and real, and we owe it to Special Olympics.”
In addition to all the ways in which Joy supports Special Olympics, as a donor, coach, and advocate, she has included a gift for Special Olympics in her will and encourages others to join her.
“First, please go to an event—attend, offer to hand out an award to an athlete, volunteer for an hour, and witness and immerse in the spirit of Special Olympics: unity, inclusion, love.”
Taking her own advice, Joy arranged for other residents of her retirement community, Leisure World in Seal Beach, to attend the 2019 Summer Games—an experience that they found deeply meaningful.
“Then, if you feel your heart is open to it, realize that when you leave this planet, you can touch so many with your legacy gift! Please join me: Special Olympics has created the vehicle and asks each of us to get on the bus and come along!”