Advocates for Inclusion at State Capitol

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Athletes and representatives from Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) and Special Olympics Northern California (SONC) converged on the California State Capitol Building to advocate as part of Special Olympics Hill Day on Wednesday, April 11.

Special Olympics athletes and staff met with key assembly and senate representatives within the capitol to advocate for a renewal of government funding for the upcoming year. SONC and SOSC provide free year-round sports training and competitions, inclusive schools programs and health resources to more than 50,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities across the state.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D – Oakley) has been instrumental in the planning and execution of Special Olympics Hill Day and continues to be a champion for SONC and SOSC athletes. Frazier was honored as SONC’s Volunteer of the Year in 2016, authored a Special Olympics Day proclamation last year and carried a legislation (AB 2371) that allowed taxpayers to donate to Special Olympics in California directly from their California income tax forms. He has also volunteered at SONC Summer Games, held annually at University of California, Davis, for the past 13 years.

Traveling to Sacramento for SOSC were President and CEO Bill Shumard, Global Messenger Dustin Plunkett, Manager of Grants and Government Relations Trang Nguyen, and Director of Schools, Young Athletes & Families Melissa Erdmann. Thanks to the commitment of Assemblyman Frazier, the group was able to meet with Speaker of the California State Assembly Anthony Rendon, who represents the 63rd Assembly District within the SOSC regional footprint.

“We had our champion Assemblyman Jim Frazier with us, who got us the meeting with the Speaker. It was great to meet the Assemblyman whose district I live in and tell him my story and the reasons why this funding is critical for Special Olympics athletes in Northern and Southern California,” said Plunkett, who resides in Paramount, which is in the 63rd District. “This was the best meeting of the day for me, and we thank all the representatives who took the time to meet with us. It was a very good day.”

Following Special Olympics Hill Day, SONC and SOSC were recognized on the assembly floor during session on the afternoon of Thursday, April 12. A resolution (ACR 210) sponsored by Frazier received 67 co-authors and it was adopted during the Floor session, making it official that April 11, 2018 is Special Olympics Day in California. Watch:

About Special Olympics Southern California

Special Olympics Southern California enriches the lives of more than 34,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities and their communities through sports, leadership, and health programs. Founded in 1969 by Olympic decathlon gold medalist Rafer Johnson, Special Olympics Southern California provides free year-round sports training and competitions to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Participation develops improved physical fitness and motor skills and greater self-confidence. Special Olympics has become the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion, and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. As a result, people with intellectual disabilities become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Special Olympics Southern California has earned a 4-star ranking from Charity Navigator for exceeding industry standards. This ranking is the highest Charity Navigator offers to an organization and is given because Special Olympics has demonstrated strong financial health and a commitment to accountability and transparency. Learn how you can get involved at www.sosc.org.

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