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.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Project Unify Colorado Leads the Way in Transforming School and Community Climate

During my trip to Colorado last weekend, I had the opportunity to meet with the Special Olympics Colorado Youth Activation Committee. These young leaders shared wonderful insights with me on the importance of creating school and community environments that are characterized by authentic acceptance and inclusion. I hope you will enjoy this slide show and I hope it will encourage you to continue to enact change in your own schools and communities!

The Sie Foundation: Eliminating Health Disparities for People With Down Syndrome

Last weekend, I was thrilled to be honored by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation at their annual gala in Denver, Colorado. The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a fantastic organization, founded by Anna and John Sie and family, that supports the Linda Cynic Institute for Down Syndrome at the University of Colorado, which is dedicated to leading research, education and clinical care for people with Down syndrome.

The event was spearheaded by Michelle Sie, the dynamic and visionary Executive Director of the Foundation. Michelle is an incredible advocate for her daughter Sophia, who has Down syndrome, and the millions of others with Down syndrome around the world that their research benefits. Over 1,200 people turned out for a spectacular event -- Jamie Foxx and his sister Diondra Dixon (who has Down syndrome) stole the show, as did Quincy Jones, who presented me with an award in recognition of our work at Special Olympics.

I wasn’t worthy of either receiving the award (the credit belongs to our staff, athletes, volunteers, sponsors and countless others who make our movement happen) or having it be presented by a living legend like Quincy, who has been a pioneer not only in music but also in his support of people with intellectual disabilities!! Here’s a clip of some of the event footage…

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day Media Highlights

Editor's Note: Tim is in the midst of a very hectic travel schedule right now but wanted to make sure we shared with you a select few of the media highlights from the first EKS Day! So check out the great stories from around the world below!

EKS Day Media Highlights:

27 Sept – Irish Times (Ireland) - Special Olympics founder honoured
On Saturday, Ms. Davis celebrated the memory of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver at Farmleigh House in Dublin. It was one of a number of events held worldwide to mark the inaugural Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day. Ms Kennedy Shriver’s son Mark also attended the Dublin event.

26 Sept – (New Jersey, USA) - Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day
Special Olympics, the organization Eunice Kennedy Shriver began 42 years ago to provide athletic and other opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, paid tribute to its founder in celebrations here and around the world yesterday. The local ceremony hosted by Special Olympics New Jersey featured placement of a time capsule in a memorial brick wall in front of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Sports & Training Center on Princess Road.

26 Sept – New Sabah Times (Malaysia) – Over 100 nations celebrate Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day
Over 100 countries worldwide celebrated the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day (EKS) yesterday, and in Malaysia, the Special Olympics Sabah (SOS) was given the honour to organise a Camp Shriver at Taman Awan Teluk Likas.

26 Sept – Namibia Sport (Namibia) – Football for Hope Centre inaugurated
The Katutura Football for Hope Centre was officially inaugurated on Saturday, September 25 with a high powered guest list in attendance including Namibian Prime Minister Nahas Angula, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, Dr John Dow Junior of Special Olympics Africa, Jan Coetzee of Street Football World and Inge Zaamwani Kamwi of Special Olympics Namibia.

25 Sept – The Hindu (India) - World remembers Eunice Kennedy Shriver today
Special Olympics Bharat will celebrate founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver on Saturday, by organizing a host of activities and special runs.

25 Sept - Special Olympics and Michelle Kwan Skating Clinic
Fox 25 News (Boston, Mass, USA)
Michelle Kwan: “We're getting a bunch of Special Olympians, parents, volunteers getting the community together, getting on the ice, and this is happening all over the world”

25 Sept - Stadium Renamed for Eunice Kennedy Shriver
News 10 NBC (Rochester, NY, USA)
"The stadium formerly known as the Special Olympics stadium was re-named today in honor of Eunice Kennedy Shriver”

25 Sept - Eunice Kennedy Shriver Legacy Lives On
NBC News 4 Today (Wash. D.C., USA)
She may be gone but Eunice Kennedy Shriver's legacy lives on. Today her memory is being honored with the declaration of the first-ever Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rosa's Law is a Good First Step

Over the past two years, youth activists within the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign have secured nearly 140,000 online pledges from schools and communities across the country, setting off a national conversation about humiliating speech and the language of discrimination. It is not hard to see the fingerprints of thousands of youth activists, so athletes, and the families and communities on the passage of Rosa's Law this week, which is now on its way to the President for his signature.

I know I join millions of Americans in hoping for a quick signature by the President, and I also join them in recognizing that changing statutory language is not the end. The debate over language is only an opening to a discussion about attitude change and authentic inclusion. Our part at Special Olympics is promoting unity on the playing field and in communities through sport. We're committed to engaging millions more in the U.S. and around the world.

Critics who say that changing words can not solve problems are right. But it's a good start.

Congratulations to Senators Barbara Mikulski and Michael Enzi, and all the 72 co-sponsors across party lines, on this important accomplishment. Rosa's law is an historic triumph of self-advocacy and youth advocacy on behalf of our country's most vulnerable. This may be a first, but it won't be the last!

Happy Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day!

I want to share with all of you a joint message from my brother Anthony and I that went out to the Special Olympics movement and Best Buddies International.

 Dear Friends,

On behalf of Special Olympics and Best Buddies, thank you for joining us today in celebrating Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day. We are thrilled about the countless ways athletes and buddies, volunteers, and friends of Special Olympics and Best Buddies have joined together to perform "Acts" of unity and inclusion around the world in honor of our mother. This day is more than just a tribute to her, it is a tribute to the difference you are making in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, and to the future you are building where all people are accepted, regardless of ability.

As we celebrate today, we thought these words from her would be a special inspiration to you:

“There is no joy like the joy of unleashing the human spirit. There is no laughter like the laughter of those who are happy with others. There is no purpose more noble than to build communities of acceptance for all. This is our glory.” 

Thank you again for your contribution. We hope you will visit our website and view the "Acts" of unity that so many have performed around the world today.


Friday, September 24, 2010

In One Athlete, Lay a Movement's Story

I had a chance to meet an extraordinary athlete today at the table tennis venue at the China National Games from Hu He Hao Te, Mongolia. He is a shining example of our future. Everyone could see his high level of skill, and his mother told me a story of change and passion in her son. Guo Kun Fu started playing table tennis at 12 after having to quit soccer due to many injuries (he is now 22). It was very apparent to me that he has the first and most important ingredient for success: passion for the game.

When left school at 18, Kun Fu's mother was prepared to quit her job to create a place where he could live and work; to her enormous joy, this was not necessary. As part of the legacy of the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games, the government opened a sunshine center in her neighborhood; complete with job training, skill development, and table tennis, making it possible for Kun Fu to take his game to the next level. At the sunshine center, he practices 1-2 hours day and up to 4 hours on the weekends. It is no surprise that his health is good, confidence has exploded, and his table tennis is first rate.

He has won two silver medals at the China National Games. His mother explained to me that he has started to understand the difference between the gold silver and bronze medals and is now determined to get a gold! His mother said the gold has provided extra motivation and she has seen improvement in her son even at these games.

Kun Fu's story has all the ingredients of our future, focus on rigorous and daily training, a powerful advocate in his mother, and an inclusive and supportive community.

Some day, every Special Olympics athlete will have this same story!

Continuing to Harvest New Opportunities in China

Last night, I attended the “Mid-Autumn Festival” with Special Olympics athletes competing in the 5th annual China National Games. This celebration, a national holiday in China, takes place on the autumnal equinox, the night of the year when the moon is at its fullest and roundest. It is a celebration of harvest time and an occasion for feasting, and I cannot think of a more fitting time to celebrate all of the accomplishments of the Special Olympics Program in China and the “harvest” of new programs and facilities that have been created for our athletes here.

In Fuzhou alone, the number of Special Olympics athletes has increased ten-fold from 2,000 to 20,000 in the past two years, thanks in large part to the construction the Fujian Sports Management Center for the Disabled. Another enduring legacy of these games is the construction of over 130 “sunshine homes” in the Fujian Province, which provide education and employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. The changing perceptions of people within Chinese society is also evident in the recent creation of “Special Love,” a feature length film created in honor of the China National Games, which challenges traditional stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities by portraying the transformational relationship of a young Chinese professional and a boy with intellectual disabilities and their mutual interest in basketball.

Throughout China, these games have undoubtedly encouraged greater acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, and this year alone, Special Olympics China is slated to reach over 1 million athletes. And yet, I am reminded of how much more work there is to be done in improving the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities in China and achieving their full inclusion and empowerment in education, employment, and society. Our movement is characterized by a restless dissatisfaction with the status quo, and while we applaud SO China for the tremendous strides in the past few years, and we look forward to the continued progress toward greater acceptance and inclusion.

Thank You Gert Boyle and Columbia Sportswear!

Look what our friends at Columbia Sportswear have done! I visited a "Sunshine School" for people with intellectual disabilities in Fuzhou this afternoon and all of the students were outfitted with Columbia Sportswear t-shirts that were donated by our generous and longtime friends, the Boyles.  Check out the picture below to see just how far and wide the support of the Columbia Sportswear team, especially Gert and her son Tim, reaches around the world. Thank you for your wonderful support!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A New Paradigm is Emerging

Meeting President Lech Walesa in Poland these week was like touching history. His presence at the Games was an unmistakable message for our athletes that they are the vanguard of a new, powerful social movement.

During my visit to the Polish Parliament buildings in Warsaw today with our youth summit, I saw the 22 points the shipyard workers submitted to the communist government to protest its rule. They were painted by hand on salvaged plywood from the shipyard. There was no sophisticated PR roll-out, no elaborate graphics, just raw determination and a relentless passion for, and a deep belief in, the quality of the human spirit. Those were the ingredients Walesa used to topple one of the most powerful regimes the world has seen. Needless to say, these are the same gifts our athletes use to topple age-old barriers and stubborn indifference.

But what was equally important was Mr. Walesa's comments at a Games event, "The age of blocks and ideologies is over." He went on to suggest a new paradigm is emerging, but it is our athletes that most understand this paradigm - our athletes understand that relationships are central to social justice. The new paradigm puts unity and community at the top of the world's agenda.

I can feel the spirit of Walesa as the baton of leadership is handed off to the athletes of Special Olympics. And they may be able to slim down the 22 points to 2: Get in the Game and Play United!

Thanks to former President of Poland, and the 
hero of 'Solidarity' Mr. Lech Walesa for your support!

Share the Experience of Special Olympics!

There's so much going on here in Warsaw for the 2010 Special Olympics European Summer Games, I wanted to make sure you get a chance to see for yourself. You can see some of the activities on the ground in my Twitter feed, and follow the Games on their Facebook page. But you have to check out all of these amazing photos being captured by Adam Nurkiewicz. There are one or two below, be sure to check out his website and galleries. More must see stuff on You Tube embedded below, straight from the amazing Opening Ceremony of the Games!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Healthy Partnership

What a thrill it was to sign an agreement this morning with the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity (IFAPA). We are so excited for this new partnership with 30 of Europe's leading experts on physical education, who have spent their careers understanding the health of Special Olympics athletes. They will be a tremendous help to us as we consider new ways to develop the abilities of our athletes through the creation of a new sports training program.

The best suggestion that came out of this session was to turn off the elevators of our 32 story hotel. Even though the person making this suggestion was on the sixth floor, it was a great reminder of the countless, simple opportunities we have every day to improve our fitness. I am thrilled that these experts and health practitioners will be partnering with us to advance sports training and competition for our athletes!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I want to share with you this wonderful song and tribute to my mother, written by Michael Sarver, which debuted at the Opening Ceremonies of the U.S. National Games this summer. I hope it will encourage you to carry on her legacy and work for people with intellectual disabilities!

2013 World Winter Games in Korea

My sincere gratitude is extended to Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner, my fellow Board Directors, who are in Seoul, Korea today to announce the location of the next Special Olympics World Winter Games. My brother-in-law, Governor Schwarzenegger, and actress Zhang Ziyi were also present for this amazing announcement. We are so excited that Korea will help us unite the world in 2013!

Friday, September 10, 2010

What is Your Act of Unity?

The first ever Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day is happening on September 25th and we need your help to reach 100,000 Acts of Unity! Watch this great PSA narrated by the incomparable Robin Roberts from “Good Morning America” and go to to learn more. And stay tuned for some great social media tools that we’re sharing to help you spread the word about EKS Day!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Road to Happiness

What makes us happy? In recent decades, researchers in psychology and economics have started using the tools of their profession to develop sophisticated, reliable models to answer this ageless question across countries and through time.

The emergence of positive psychology in the 1970s resulted from a desire among psychologists to emphasize individual strength and virtue in a field that had traditionally focused on treating mental illnesses and addressing emotional deficits. Since then, positive psychologists have made a lot of progress in identifying the things that bring us happiness. They have found that we experience happiness in many ways, through our emotional orientation to the past, present, and future; through the activities in which we are engaged; and in our ability to use our personal strengths and talents in work, leisure, relationships, and to contribute to something greater than ourselves.

Paralleling this development in psychology was a similar movement in the field of economics. Beginning in the 1970s, researchers started to find some truth to the axiom that “money doesn’t buy happiness” when they discovered that that nation’s level of happiness increases more slowly once it reaches a certain level of wealth. As a result, many economists believe measures of happiness complement measure of income or wealth by providing a more holistic gauge of well-being and life satisfaction.

Yesterday, one of my longtime friends, Dr. Elizabeth Dykens, Professor of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University and Co-Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities, led a wonderful discussion at Special Olympics about how we can use the tools of positive psychology to study the happiness of people with intellectual disabilities. She is interested in learning the ways in which people with intellectual disabilities find happiness, hope, and contentment and live engaged lives with their families and communities.

So many times people with intellectual disabilities are defined by negatives—what they do not have or cannot do relative to others—causing many of us to forget that people with intellectual disabilities can be happy, lead meaningful lives, and bring happiness and fulfillment to the lives of others. In fact many studies note that having a family member with an intellectual disability can help us to lead richer, more meaningful lives, teach us patience, tolerance, and make us more able to accept differences with others.

My own experience suggests that millions of people with intellectual disabilities around the world lead engaged and happy lives, and find tremendous joy and meaning in relationships with family and friends. You don’t have to be a researcher to know this to be true.

What is your road to happiness?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Special Olympics Camp Shriver Is Open!!

There is nowhere on earth where playing games, feeling healthy, gaining confidence, and having fun is more important. And there are no campers more inspiring than those at Camp Haiti. Wherever you are, send out a cheer! Special Olympics in Haiti is up and running!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Changing the World One Smile at a Time

I'm always blown away anytime I get to visit our Healthy Athletes venue and at these 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games I was particularly in awe of the amazing men and women of the Nebraska Dental Association who are among so many of the health professionals VOLUNTEERING their time to screen and treat our athletes - for free!  I got the opportunity to chat with Dr. Jim Jenkins and I wanted to share our conversation below. You can also read his letter to his volunteer staff about this amazing clinic.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Poem by Anthony Marabella

Waiting to march into Opening Ceremony at 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games, with our Wyoming delegation, I was approached by Special Olympics Massachusetts athlete Anthony Marabella (pictured with me below) who wrote the following poem in honor of my mother:

My poem to Mrs. Shriver
by Anthony Marabella

There are not enough words that truly say how much you have touched my life and heart in a special way
For your helpfulness and commitment to people with disabilities throughout various communities nation and worldwide
You were the designer, the leader and the guide
Throughout everything that was done success and smiles came, along with so many friendships and the flame
We stand together here and we are proud
Our voices are heard and they are loud
With love and gratitude in all we do now do
For this we shall do for you
The one who made a dream come true
Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver that person is you
Thank you for letting all dreams be achieved
Inside of everyone when they’ve believed

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Remembering Drake Turrentine

Dear Special Olympics Family,

It is with great sadness that I write to share the news that our friend, colleague, and leader, Drake Turrentine, died yesterday morning, July 14, 2010. He was a wonderful human being and a blessing to our movement. Our hearts are now with his wife Joann, his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren. He will be missed terribly.

Drake Turrentine has been part of the Special Olympics movement for over 18 years beginning as outside counsel to the 1995 Special Olympics World Games Organizing Committee. Before joining our team, Drake was a partner in the Connecticut law firm of Wiggin and Dana. He was a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania and Yale Law School and a veteran of four years of service in the United States Air Force. In service to the 1995 Organizing Committee, Drake managed all the contracts, licensing, and organizational work associated with an event on the scale of a world games, pro bono. More importantly, he came to enjoy the mission, he marched in the Opening Ceremony at Yale Bowl, and he fell in love with Special Olympics. What good fortune for all of us!

In 1997, Drake and Joann moved from Connecticut to Washington and he assumed the new position of Special Olympics’ in-house General Counsel. From that vantage, he served the movement in countless ways always acting as the backbone of our fiduciary responsibilities but at the same time, helping chart the expansion of our mission around the world. The fruits of his dedication can be seen everywhere in Special Olympics. He helped shape our global and regional structure; led our World and Regional games agreements, championed the general rules and it’s revisions, created multiple models of revenue sharing with our accredited programs, oversaw streamlined accreditation systems, demanded excellence in risk management, pushed for better and better corporate partnerships, and served as Secretary to the Board of Directors.

Above all, Drake was an unfailing defender of the mission of Special Olympics—of fidelity to it, of promoting an understanding of it, of respect for its unchanging power. He saw his role not so much as a lawyer but as a champion of the movement who used the law as a tool to make a difference for our athletes, families, and communities. He worked with my mother to insure that our governing documents were clear on the centrality of the mission and he felt a deep responsibility to her to protect her vision. Over and over again, he told everyone, “Special Olympics is the best legal job in the world and I have it!” And indeed, he performed it unfailingly with dedication, smarts, and enthusiasm.

Beyond all his achievements, Drake was a man whose integrity and values made us all proud to count him as our leader. He was totally selfless, deeply trustworthy, unfailingly kind and humble. He never asked for anything for himself. He never complained. He never wanted anything other than to help our movement. How lucky we are that we were able to enjoy the work and collegiality of such a man.

Drake’s name may not be well known around the world but the sadness of this day does nothing to dim the reality that he touched the lives of millions of people for the better. He helped Special Olympics become one of the most respected sports movements in the world. He made us tough and determined. He made a difference. We have no higher praise.

Drake’s wife Joann has asked that in lieu of flowers, gifts be made in Drake’s honor and memory to Special Olympics. While that is no surprise, it is yet another humbling example of the man we knew and loved.

I hope you will join me in keeping Drake and his family in your prayers.


Friday, July 9, 2010

More Haiti Pictures

EDITOR'S NOTE: as promised in Tim's June 25 post, we wanted to get some more pictures online for you to see.

Check out the Haiti slide show on the Special Olympics website as well as a powerful slide show of pictures from Tim's daughter, Rose, who accompanied him to Haiti.

Bye for now.

Friday, June 25, 2010

There's No Give Up in Haiti

We left Haiti this morning with a last image of frustration. We visited the compound of "Rebuild Haiti," a joint venture of multiple reconstruction entities focused on clearing and rebuilding. There, on the lot stood lines of bulldozers, heavy earth movers, and massive dump trucks. And they're not being used despite miles of debris and hundreds of thousands in desperate need. And there's no good answer for why not, just the same old--bureaucracy, competing turf, politics, control. Despite the massive scale of the problem, the very resources needed for action sit idle.


Needless to say, we asked for help with our future sites for Special Olympics Camp Shriver sites and they're going to respond. Hopefully, the barriers to action will fall for others too. The need is just so great that I can't believe people won't find a way.

At the end of our short visit, Rose and I leave with one overriding feeling: admiration for the people of Haiti. Never once did we hear anyone complain; they are a people unbowed, strong, unflinching. Everywhere we went, we saw thousands of people busy, trying, working, surviving.

There's no give up in Haiti. They left us in awe.

Haiti will be a great Special Olympics program soon. We don't yet know how we'll overcome the lack of schools, fields, health, and equipment. But I know it will happen somehow. There's just too much need and too much potential in those athletes. Somehow, together, we're going to find a way.

We'll post more pictures when we get home tonight. And we'll try to get a message out soon about how everyone can help. For now, donations can be sent to Special Olympics Haiti Fund at 1133 19th St, NW, Washington, DC 20036.

Thanks always for everyone who works and prays for a Unified Haiti.

More Pictures from Haiti - School and Camp

Here are some more photos by Rose. These are from our meeting with Haitian families before the press conference to announce the five Camp Shrivers and the five year plan to rebuild Special Olympics Haiti. There are also some from our visit to Foyer D'Amour which has been entirely destroyed and relocated to open structures next to the original building. Then there are some from our visit to the site for one of the Camp Shrivers this summer which, like so many of the areas we visited, is under construction).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This is Our School Now

At the Foyer D'Amour (House of Love) school, future campers and Special Olympics athletes welcomed us with smiles. They are so proud and excited to join a movement of pride and sports joy. When David Rosenthal, Special Olympics track and field star, spoke to them about how he was called names as a child but now has found his pride, they cheered. We all danced in celebration of the future.

Then I asked the parents what else we could do besides sport to help.

"Food" was one response. "My son is in school all day with no food."

The next asked for a brace. "My daughter cannot stand because her back is bad and she has no brace. How can she play?"

"Please a psychologist. My daughter--I don't even know why she's different. A psychologist could help."

I turned to Madame Legoute, the charismatic head of the school who has tried to rebuild after her simple buildings were destroyed in the quake. "Do you not have any of this? Psychologists? Braces? Food?"

"Not yet," she replied. "Not yet."

Those parents made it clear: if Special Olympics is a movement, we'll have to work hard to be true game changers in building community here. The Foyer D'Amour isn't just her school. Its our school now.

Any and all help welcome. Stay tuned for ways you can contribute and email Beth Alldridge at Special Olympics if you've got resources or want to be more involved.

An Official Announcement

*Editor's Note:

As Tim is busy with some activities in Haiti right now, I just wanted to share that in a press conference this morning in Haiti, Tim unveiled a five year plan to rebuild Special Olympics Haiti through Camp Shriver. You can read the full announcement in the Special Olympics press room.

Also, for some back story on Special Olympics in Haiti, here are some items to read:

Meet David Rosenthal

Special Olympics Haiti athlete David Rosenthal with Tim Shriver

The surprises continue in Haiti. Last night, the most pleasant surprise was meeting David Rosenthal, a star athlete in every way. Sitting between David and his mother at dinner last night was an honor. David's mom told her story of trying to raise a son with challenges-- of David's seizures during childhood and of her feeling totally lost and rejected. Her word's echoed the ones I heard as a child when my mother spoke of her sister: "There was nothing for David and nothing for me. It was so difficult. There was nothing."

You wouldn't know it talking to David. He's all grown up now, 31, handsome, funny, and incredibly athletic. His mother has done a fantastic job and his smiles are biggest when he talks of his two medals won in Shanghai. "I'm ready to play other sports as soon as Special Olympics calls me," David said. "I'm ready."

Needless to say, there are over 30,000 other potential athletes like David in this struggling country. Our challenge is to call them. We start next month with 300 at our summer camps. But that is only a start. We have so much more to do to help create a unified Haiti. Thank goodness we have David who will help lead the way.

More Pictures from Haiti - Meetings

We have a pretty tight schedule of meetings in Haiti. Here are a handful of the photos from most of those meetings. The folks we met with included:

  • Haitian First Lady Mrs. Elizabeth Preval
  • Dr. Pean, Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities
  • Mr. Jean E. Baker, President of Haitian Olympic Committee
  • Mrs. Marie M. Rey, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Gwenael Apollon, Secretary General of the YMCA
  • Special Olympics Haiti HQ Staff, Volunteers and Regional Delegates

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Time to 'Stop Pretending'

We had a great meeting with our new coaches and camp managers this morning. The Special Olympics Haiti office, though full of cracks in walls and ceilings, is still standing. And that's where we introduced our new team to the goal of standing up for people with intellectual disabilities this summer and beyond.

We were also honored to meet First Lady Elizabeth Preval. She was totally committed to our work and wants to come to our summer camps and then convene a national meeting to put our athletes on the agenda for the future of the country. And then Haiti's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marie-Michele Rey, said something so powerful: "in Haiti, we must stop pretending...stop pretending that people with intellectual disabilities don't exist, stop pretending that what we are doing as a government is working. Special Olympics can help us build a new Haiti where we face the reality that everyone has a right to a decent life. Everyone!"

If today is any indication, we're going to have a lot of support for our announcement of the relaunch of SO Haiti tomorrow!

Stay tuned.

Pictures from Haiti

My daughter Rose got a few pictures to show what it looks like on the ground here in Haiti.

Hope Amidst the Rubble

We've all heard it before: you can't believe it unless you see it with your own eyes. Well that's Haiti--the miles of destruction, the breathtakingly beautiful land beyond the rubble, the resolute faces of minute to minute perseverance, the goats..

Our first day in Haiti was all that and more. Led by Jean Chevalier, Special Olympics Haiti is coming to life. For Jean, SO is a pathway to rehabilitation-of rebuilding broken spirits but also for rebuilding Haitian society to be about the inclusion of all. We met with USAID and OAS leaders who challenged us to think about social change, about sustainability, about engaging government leaders. And most excitingly, we met with the leader of the YMCA which will open a new center and wants every Special Olympics athlete to become a member and have a year round fitness and sport development plan.

I must admit that Rose and I are a little in shock with it all. But when we met this morning with 30 new trainers and managers who are ready to help us open 5 Special Olympics Camp Shrivers this summer, we felt at home again: people offering to help, wanting to fight discrimination, ready to give the gift of skill, the joy of a smile, the power of an example for others to follow. I hope during the rest of the trip we find the leaders and the money to empower them to success.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Off to Haiti...

I'm off to Haiti today with my daughter Rose and I'm not sure what to expect. Special Olympics has long worked in Haiti but needless to say, everything is different now. My colleagues Beth Alldridge and Bob Gobrecht have been working tirelessly with Maureen Weber to get our movement back up and running and it can't come soon enough.

So I can't wait to open 5 Camp Shrivers this summer. It may be a small help to an island in pain but the smiles will be worth all the effort. And they will be a healing all their own--a symbol of a more hopeful way of life. May it come soon and very soon.

We're off. Stay tuned.

Tim and Rose