For Special Olympics Chief Inspiration Officer, Her Job is Her Way of Life

In a recent article by Glamour, Loretta Claiborne discusses using her life to teach others how to be more inclusive and empathic.
Loretta Claiborne with text that reads: Loretta Claiborne The Stigma Fighter

This is an excerpt from the Glamour article entitled Loretta Claiborne Doesn’t Want You to Feel Inspired. She Wants You to Change Your Mind

Claiborne doesn’t want to inspire people to get out and run (though she does recommend it). She wants to inspire people to have more empathy in a moment where we’re collectively experiencing the sense of isolation people with intellectual disabilities face every day. “These are tough times, but I'm hoping people learn, ‘Gee it’s not just me here; maybe I need to look up and see who is lonely in my neighborhood. Maybe I could reach out,’” she says. “It doesn’t take a long time. Just a hand wave means a lot.”

Claiborne found sports through her brother. While other girls were playing dolls in the housing project in Pennsylvania where she grew up, Claiborne was mostly alone. So she’d tag along with her brother while he practiced track drills in a field near their home. When she was around 12, he took up long distance running—so she did too. “I started following him on his runs and would carry the towel. He’d look back—he’d always keep his eyes on me,” she says.

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Loretta Claiborne was born the middle of seven children in a poor, single-parent family in York, Pennsylvania. Partially blind and with intellectual disabilities, she was unable to walk or talk until four-years-old. Today, Claiborne is an accomplished athlete, motivational speaker, member of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, and Chief Inspiration Officer for Special Olympics.
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