Special Olympics athletes, organization leaders, Unified Sports partners and family members from across the country made the trip to Washington D.C. last week to participate in Special Olympics’ annual “Capitol Hill Day.”
Special Olympics Southern California chairman Kelly Johnson and athlete/staff member Dustin Plunkett were among 260 delegates representing 46 states and the District of Columbia to spread Special Olympics’ message of inclusion and advocate for critical funding on Feb. 11.
Special Olympics athletes led more than 300 face-to-face meetings with members of Congress in both the House and Senate, inviting their elected officials to partner with them to support inclusive education and health initiatives for people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming is in more than 7,500 schools across the U.S., including 700 in California that extends to 31,170 students participating in sports, leadership and wellness programming.
The goal is to be in more than 10,000 schools across the country by 2024.
“It means a lot to represent the 38,900 athletes that SOSC serves in meetings with our members of Congress,” Dustin said. “This year, I had eight great meetings at Capitol Hill Day. Most of them have a son, daughter, nephew, or niece involved in Special Olympics; some were even a certified coach. It is great to see how many people know and love us on the Hill, and I feel confident they will help Special Olympics spread acceptance and inclusion for all.”
Other notable attendees included actor John C. McGinley and WWE superstar The Big Show, a.k.a. Paul Wight, both of whom are Special Olympics Global Ambassadors.
It was the 18th year Special Olympics programs have converged on the nation’s capitol to meet with members of Congress. Here’s who the SOSC representatives met with (photos courtesy of Dustin Plunkett):
L.A. Galaxy Unified Tryouts
Editor’s note: This post has been updated as of March 12 amid growing concern of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
SOSC has canceled all sports trainings, coach trainings, and competitions through April 12. Read the full, official SOSC release here:
Inside the SOSC is a blog managed by staff member Tracy McDannald. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.