Leadership in Action

A Special Olympics Virginia swimmer and basketball player, David Egan, addressed a U.S. Senate committee to speak up for people with intellectual disabilities who want to have meaningful work. His persuasive testimony seized the attention of everyone in the room.
The founder of Special Olympics and a lifelong supporter of the millions of people in the world with intellectual disabilities, Eunice Kennedy Shriver did it with guts, determination and bulldog persuasiveness. Read on to see stories of others who are leaders in their own ways.
An optometrist from New Jersey, Paul Berman developed the idea of the free vision screenings given to Special Olympics athletes. The Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program has flourished, providing service to hundreds of people with intellectual disabilities who otherwise wouldn't have access in their countries.
Florence Nabayinda, the young woman on the right, is politically active in her home country of Uganda and is an outspoken advocate for social change. Nabayinda credits Special Olympics with inspiring her personal transformation. She serves on a Ugandan government panel that works for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities.
Dr. Steven Perlman, at right, with Special Olympics athlete Dustin Plunkett, inspired and led the creation of the free Special Smiles dental screening clinics that are part of the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program.
Vivian Fernandez de Torrijos, herself a parent of a child with special needs, launched a national campaign promoting programs of inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities when she was first lady of the Republic of Panama.
Soeren Palumbo went before his high school to talk about the power of words to hurt and humiliate. His sister, who has an intellectual disability, had been called a "retard." Soeren took his message to a worldwide audience and helped inspire the "Spread The Word to End The Word" campaign in the United States.