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Remembering Arne Sorenson, Special Olympics Board Member

Arne Sorenson speaks to President Barack Obama at the White House.
Arne Sorenson with President Barack Obama during a dinner hosted at the White House for Special Olympics athletes and supporters.

Special Olympics is mourning the loss of Board Member Arne Sorenson. He passed away this week at the age of 62.

Arne Sorenson was a strong and vocal supporter of inclusion of people with disabilities—in sports and in life. As CEO of Marriott International, he broke new ground for hiring people with disabilities. As he put it, “In my view, there is nothing more powerful than the transformative power of a good job, particularly for those uncertain that they will ever have employment.”

Arne Sorenson, Special Olympics Board Member
Arne Sorenson, Special Olympics Board Member

As a champion of inclusion, Sorenson had been an active member of the Special Olympics Board of Directors since 2019. He and his wife, Ruth, not only made financial contributions to the organization but attended events and shared their involvement on social media. After the Special Olympics 50th anniversary celebration in Chicago, he was moved to write an article called Special Olympics—Celebrating the Power of Inclusion.

In it he stated, “The work of Special Olympics will never be done... there are far too many places and societies around the world where individuals with disabilities are still not included.”

Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics Board Chairman, says, “He and Ruth were best friends to Linda and me and surrogate parents to all of our children, too. He was the rare leader who cared little for power and cared greatly for goodness. He loved the energy and courage and joy of Special Olympics athletes and believed in them 'til the end.”

He adds, “We mourn Arne’s passing with our prayers and our tears and our love for his family and our promise to continue to seek the light and love he so powerfully shared with us all.”

Professor William Alford, Lead Director and Vice Chair of the Special Olympics Board of Directors, shared this, “It was a privilege to know Arne Sorenson. Special Olympics has lost a great friend whose wise counsel and concrete actions have done so much to advance respect for persons with intellectual disabilities. He combined vision with humility in a singular way.”

Special Olympics extends our condolences to his loved ones and colleagues during this time of loss.