Winter Storm Doesn’t Deter Special Olympics From Demonstrating Impact & Need on Capitol Hill
Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson receives a multi sport jersey as a thank you for his continued support of SOPA from Blair County athlete and SOPA Board Member, Mike Stephens.
A much-hyped winter storm that shut down much of the nation’s Capital didn’t deter Special Olympics and Best Buddies participants and supporters who converged on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 to meet with elected officials, urging continued federal support for programs that enhance the lives of those with intellectual and development disabilities in the areas of health, education and employment. Throughout the day, Special Olympics athletes and Best Buddies ambassadors from 41 states across the country braved the elements and met with their congressional delegations to advocate for services provided by Special Olympics and Best Buddies that transcend the playing field and transform classrooms, workplaces, and communities.
The delegation from Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) included President & CEO Matt Aaron; Director of Development-West, Kraig Makohus; Blair County athlete and SOPA Board Member, Mike Stephens; and Blair County volunteer Rayleen Harp. Throughout the day, participants met face-to-face with their Members of Congress, including Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson representing PA’s 5th District and Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
Delegates advocated for support of The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act of 2013, named after the founder of Special Olympics and the lifelong advocate for the rights and abilities of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The legislation, introduced in the House and Senate on March 6, continues the legacy of Shriver by authorizing critical funds for specific programs supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through sports, health, education, and employment program initiatives.
In particular, the legislation authorizes continued federal support for the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program, which provides free health care screenings, treatment and health education to those with intellectual disabilities, as well as work that both Special Olympics and Best Buddies are doing in thousands of schools across the country to create more inclusive school climates. In addition, the legislation would support efforts by Best Buddies to prepare and place those with intellectual disabilities in the workforce, helping them lead more productive, full and independent lives.
York County athlete and Special Olympics International Board Member Loretta Claiborne joined the group for their meeting with Senator Casey.