Monday, February 7, 2011

I've Moved!

Wanted to let everyone know that I've moved! I'll be doing all my blogging on the Special Olympics blog, so please come follow me there!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

From Nice to Important

When we speak of the urgency of our work at Special Olympics--of the suffering, injustice, and neglect facing our population--I think sometimes we are not taken seriously. When we argue that sport can change lives by reversing a horrific stigma and creating community will for inclusion, I think some people think we're exaggerating. When we challenge humiliating speech because we believe it leads to degrading and humiliating treatment, I think some people believe we should relax.

I hope skeptics will read this article and realize that for millions of people with intellectual disabilities, these conditions, as disgusting as they are, are normal. And let us all remember that when we ask, give, or go the extra distance to fight for our athletes, we are fighting for life itself. The stakes are high and if anyone doesn't believe us, ask them to spend a few days in these institutions, half naked, filthy, at risk of rape or lobotomy or worse. Maybe then, they'll understand that a soccer ball isn't about a nice event for "them" but rather about an urgent movement designed to save lives and offer hope and dignity to all of us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Welcome, Ambassadors!

Check out FIFA's Joseph Blatter and CONMEBOL's Dr. Nicolas Leoz and others attending the South American Women’s Championship in Ecuador. They are wearing the Special Olympics armbands that the Special Olympics Ecuador's National Team Captain wears during matches! Also pictured are Special Olympics Ecuador President Hector Cuevas, Ecuador Football Federation President Luis Chiriboga, and Special Olympics athletes.

Chiriaboga, Leoz and Blatter were named Special Olympics Ecuador Ambassadors before the final match of the South American Women's Championship between Brasil and Chile on November 21 in Quito!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for the Opportunity

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of many things - family, giving, food, fun and sport to name a few. It is all those things to me, but it often becomes a holiday of reflection too. So when I came across an email from earlier this year about one of our Special Olympics athletes, Alcino Pereira, I began reflecting on one thing I'm not sure we take enough time to be thankful for - opportunity.

The opportunity to take on a new challenge; to interview for a job; to sit down at a table with our loved ones and share a meal; or for Alcino, the opportunity to escape, if briefly, the reality of his war torn home country with something as simple as a daily run.

I first met Alcino in 2007 at our World Summer Games in Shanghai. His home country of East Timor (officially Timor-Leste) had just started a Special Olympics program.  Alcino was their first athlete, and their lone representative at the Games.  Though he does not speak, I'll never forget the excitement his eyes and body language conveyed at having the opportunity to be the first person to represent his country at a World Games.

I remember Alcino finished last in his competition.  I also remember a stadium full of people rising to their feet as he entered the home stretch of his 10,000 meter run, cheering him on as he crossed the finish line.

Today, I'm thankful for the opportunity to know Alcino and to share the email and pictures below to give you the opportunity to know him and share his story.

Dear Tim,

Attached are photos of Alcino, who participated in the Timor Leste Marathon held in Dili on June 20.

Alcino, who completed the 42km run in more than 4 hours, was personally congratulated and recognized by both the Prime Minister and President of Timor Leste.

Best wishes

Monday, November 22, 2010

Inspiration from Nepal

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tim got an email with some photos from Special Olympics Nepal recently that he wanted to make sure we share. Below is a note from their Chairman, and the photos. Enjoy!

Please enjoy some of our recent various competitions and programs photographs where dignitories from the Minister to various government and social high level personalities were present. This year alone, despite political, economical and social problems and crisis in Nepal we have done more than three dozen various levels of competiton and programs! With best regards.

Dr. Jyoti Sherchan
Chairman, SO Nepal

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Architects of Change at Special Olympics

Be an Architect of Change. The theme of the conference my sister Maria organized this week in Long Beach, which served as a call to action for women all over the world to realize that they have the power to make a difference. They don't need to wait for anything (especially not a man!) to make changes in the world.

I couldn't help but think of how powerful this same theme is for Special Olympics. Our entire movement--over 4 million athletes and volunteers all over the world--is based on that simple message: you can make a difference. Welcome others. Give. Play. Unify.

It’s no surprise that many conference participants were also great supporters of Special Olympics. Susan Saint James, Anne Sweeney, Rafer Johnson, Phil Knight, Dr. Jill Biden, Martha Beck, Dr. Mehmet Oz—they’re all on our team. And they were there challenging the world to listen to Maria and to each other--as a massive team of positive energy shouting "whatever it is, go for it!"

I was particularly touched when Martha Beck told me how amazing Special Olympics is in her eyes--a tribute to the power of sport to awaken people to the presence of a positive energy and a trusting community. And then to hear Deepak Chopra and Nicholas Kristof (men who get it!) both echo the message of social and emotional learning and Project Unify: the way to change the destructive patterns of fear and coercion and stigma is through education--engaging young people in values that are open, centered on human dignity, focused on equality.

Those are messages for all of us. The highlight was of course, Maria. She spoke for all of us in reminding us to recognize that it’s time--time to follow our life's calling.

What a joy to be working with so many people in education and sports who are pursuing such wonderful callings as real and powerful Architects of Change.

Friday, October 8, 2010

President Obama Signs Rosa's Law!

Today, I attended a reception at the White House with Special Olympics athletes to celebrate the enactment of Rosa’s Law. The bill’s passage is a huge victory for everyone, not just people with intellectual disabilities, as it acknowledges the power of words to separate, alienate, and ultimately dehumanize people when they are categorized as ‘other.’ While we still have so far to go in eliminating the use of the r-word in society and in showing others the extent to which demeaning language can hurt, we celebrate this tremendous milestone.

While some might scoff at this change as mere political correctness, I wish you could have been at the reception with these Special Olympics athletes and have heard their many stories of pain and isolation that resulted from the use of demeaning language. Although you couldn’t be there today to hear it from the athletes themselves, so many others have articulated the hurt and isolation they have experienced, including Special Olympics Global Messenger Frank Stephens:

"So, what's wrong with "retard"? I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the "in" group. We are someone that is not your kind."

Today is one victory in an ongoing battle and we ask you to join us March 2, 2011 to Spread the Word to End the Word.