Famous Supporters Spread a Message of Inclusion
America’s Strongest Man and Naugatuck, CT police officer Derek Poundstone has joined the Special Olympics family as the Movement’s first-ever Law Enforcement Torch Run® Global Ambassador. In his new role as a Global Ambassador for the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, Poundstone will build on his already established reputation as a law enforcement officer and fitness and health expert to help spread the Special Olympics’ message of acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities around the world.
Photo by <i>John Malkowski, Creative Zone Images</i>
Professional golfer Padraig Harrington dedicates his time and shares his golfing knowledge as the newest Global Ambassador for Special Olympics. A golf clinic at a PGA Tour event in Florida in May 2010 demonstrated his commitment to help spread the message of acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities worldwide.
Combining the fun of sport with a pitch for involvement is how Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers group decided to help Special Olympics. A fun run in San Antonio, Texas, USA, in July 2009 attracted hundreds of runners and raised the awareness of Special Olympics among the Jonas Brothers' fans.
High-profile supporters like international film star and singer Jackie Chan help raise awareness and further the mission of the Special Olympics movement. In addition to appearing in World Games Opening Ceremonies, Chan is active on the local level, giving Special Olympics Beijing athletes a chance to meet their idol face to face.
Our supporters, including Special Olympics Global Ambassador Zhang Ziyi, are world-famous entertainers, politicians and athletes, but more importantly, they are symbols of dedication, support, volunteerism and acceptance in the hearts of communities around the world.”
Whether performing at an Opening Ceremony, like U2 at the 2003 World Games, serving on the Board of Directors, lending their name and likeness to promotional efforts, opening doors to potential supporters or engaging one-on-one with an athlete partner, celebrity supporters make a tremendous impact in exposure and awareness for the Special Olympics movement.
NBA star Yao Ming became a Special Olympics Global Ambassador in 2004 in order to increase the athlete population and raise awareness in his home country of China. There are now more Special Olympics athletes in China then anywhere else in the world and Yao’s hometown of Shanghai hosted the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
U.S. President Bill Clinton participated in a Global Youth Summit during the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Youth with and without disabilities from around the world shared with President Clinton their struggles, concerns and hopes for the future on how to create a world more accepting of people with intellectual disabilities.
Nelson Mandela, boxing legend Muhammad Ali and artist Quincy Jones took part in a 2003 Global Youth Summit at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland. Mandela offered words of advice to youth from around the world on the importance of courage, perseverance and the constant battle for human dignity.
Olympians Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner have long served significant roles on the Special Olympics Board of Directors and in the daily lives of athletes. Comaneci started a Special Olympics Program in her home country of Romania that continues to flourish and grow today with more than 24,000 athletes.
Actress and performer Vanessa Williams has performed at numerous Special Olympics events, serves on the Board of Directors and lobbied the United States Congress for appropriations that support Special Olympics Programs around the world.
High-profile supporters of Special Olympics like Colin Farrell, help celebrate extraordinary achievements of the athletes who stand as heroes of change. By increasing awareness of Special Olympics around the world, these supporters continue to help highlight the athlete heroes who will be celebrated for years to come.