Special Olympics athletes, leaders, and family members from 39 states will converge on Capitol Hill on February 10 for Special Olympics’ 14th annual “Capitol Hill Day.” Throughout the day, Special Olympics athletes from across the nation will hold more than 250 face-to-face meetings with their Congressional representatives to advocate for continued federal support for critical health and education services provided by Special Olympics. These services transcend the playing field and transform the lives of athletes and families, bringing inclusion and greater acceptance of all abilities to classrooms across the country and providing essential health care that is otherwise often unavailable due to the lack of trained health care providers and facilities.
Special Olympics self-advocates will educate lawmakers and their staffs about the significant consequences that arise from the stigma and stereotypes that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face and how that impacts their lives in the areas of sports, health care, education, and employment. The goal is to effectively convey the high-impact and cost-effectiveness of Special Olympics’ evidence-based programming that addresses these issues, and to secure continued support from legislators.
Special Olympics Nebraska will be sending a delegation of four, including staff members and athlete Skylar Simmonds. Skylar is 20-years-old and lives in Millard. She has participated in Special Olympics for 5 years, and currently competes in swimming and track. She recently graduated from the Special Olympics Nebraska Athlete Leadership Program, where she was coached by a Gallup mentor to craft her personal message. She will share her story with Nebraska legislators on the Hill and lobby for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities.
Skylar told us, “Special Olympics pushed me beyond my limits and made me proud of myself. I want to spread the word about the power of Special Olympics with the world.”
“The Special Olympics movement has been a leader in connecting people with intellectual disabilities and encouraging greater understanding and inclusion across the world,” said Mary Davis, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Special Olympics. “The U.S. Government’s partnership with Special Olympics to support Americans with intellectual disabilities has helped to raise awareness and catalyze support from governments around the globe for people with intellectual disabilities.”
Special Olympics Chairman, Timothy P. Shriver, said “the U.S. Government has been a steadfast champion of the Special Olympics movement which fights against inactivity, injustice, and intolerance of people with intellectual disabilities. We have been successful partners in working to create a unified America through inclusive sports, education and health programs. Together we need to continue working towards ensuring Americans with intellectual disabilities have the same rights, respect, access to services, and opportunities as all other Americans.”
Capitol Hill Day will conclude with a private reception at the Library of Congress for participating Special Olympics athletes and their state delegations.
Special Olympics Nebraska is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, which was founded in 1972. The mission of Special Olympics Nebraska mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendships with their families, and other Special Olympics athletes and the community.