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SO Hill Day 1

Special Olympics athletes, Program leaders, Unified partners, and family members from all 50 states and the District of Columbia converged on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on February 13th for Special Olympics’ annual “Capitol Hill Day.” This was the first time in the 16-year history of Capitol Hill Day in which all 50 states were represented, honoring the organization’s 50th Anniversary.

Special Olympics athletes held more than 250 face-to-face meetings with Members of Congress in both the House and Senate, challenging and inviting their elected officials to partner with them to achieve the goals of expanding Special Olympics Unified Sports and Unified Champion Schools programming, and to end health care disparities and discrimination against the 15 million persons with intellectual disabilities in America by supporting inclusive health initiatives.

SO Hill Day 4

Special Olympics athletes, serving as self-advocates, educated lawmakers and their staff about the significant consequences that arise from the stigma and stereotypes faced by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They described how that impacts their lives in the areas of sports, health care and education. The goals of Capitol Hill Day were to effectively convey the high impact and cost-effectiveness of Special Olympics’ evidence-based programming that addresses these issues, to educate lawmakers and to secure continued support from legislators.

Representatives from Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) included President & CEO Matt Aaron, Delaware County athlete Winnie Downey, Winnie’s Mentor Kathy Zoretich, Special Smiles Clinical Director Dr. Jason Bresler, and York County athlete and Special Olympics International’s Chief Inspiration Officer Loretta Claiborne.

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Some of the Capitol offices that our SOPA delegates were able to visit included: Senator Bob Casey, Senator Pat Toomey, Congressman Glenn Thompson, and Congressman Ryan Costello. Our athlete Winnie even got the opportunity to meet Stephen Colbert from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert who was visiting the Capitol!

SO Hill Day 6