For half a century, Special Olympics has worked to develop communities and change attitudes surrounding people with intellectual disabilities. Now it is the world’s largest sports organization as well as the largest healthcare supplier for people with intellectual disabilities.
The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games kick off in Los Angeles on July 25 and will feature competitions in aquatics, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, football and many other summer sports involving 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from around the world. Before all of that gets Started, some of the Games most recognizable ambassadors stopped by the Full Frame studios to talk about the global impact of this very unique organization.
Michelle Kwan Gives Back
American figure skating powerhouse Michelle Kwan is one of the world’s most accomplished athletes and her triple lutz jump on the ice is the stuff of legends. But she is the first to admit that none of her success would have been possible without the support of the team of coaches, trainers and loved ones who guided her path to success. Now, nearly a decade after stepping away from professional figure skating, she is giving back to athletes around the world.
Kwan says she was young when she encountered the Special Olympics and discovered the organization’s immense positive impact. But more than helping people with intellectual disabilities feel included in society, Special Olympics is a family – one that Kwan is proud to call her own.
Kwan first began judging figure skating competitions at Special Olympics World Winter Games, but has become increasingly involved in the organization over the years. She now serves on the Board of Directors.
Giving back to the sports community and beyond is a fixture in Kwan’s life post-figure skating. She was also appointed to the President’s Council of Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in 2010. More recently, Kwan joined Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign as a full-time staffer and is focused on surrogate outreach for the campaign.
Check out this week’s episode of Full Frame, as Michelle Kwan shares the passion and the impact of the Special Olympics worldwide.
Follow Michelle Kwan on Twitter: @MichelleWKwan
Rafer Johnson: Everyone should be the best they can be
Olympic gold medalists Rafer Johnson hopes that every athlete, regardless of their intellectual ability, can say that they are the best that they can be.
Johnson has served on the Special Olympics Board of Directors for over 35 years and has dedicated time to many California-based charitable organizations – inspiring countless others to reach their full potential as he did when he fulfilled his Olympic dream.
Since founding the Southern California chapter of Special Olympics in 1969, Johnson has seen this positive mindset go beyond simply changing lives. Special Olympics, he says, saves lives.
Special Olympics participants join a community where the acceptance and inclusion they experience can motivate them to achieve more than they ever thought possible. The organization’s Healthy Athletes program also provides a much needed public health service. The organization offers more than 1.6 million free health examinations in more than 130 countries to athletes who may otherwise never receive crucial health services. Through this program, Special Olympics has become the largest global public health organization serving people with intellectual disabilities.
Rafer Johnson joins Full Frame host Mike Walter this week and shares the journey of Special Olympics, from a backyard event to inspiring people around the world.
Follow Rafer Johnson on Twitter: @RaferJohnson1
Dustin Plunkett: Special Olympics saved my life
Dustin Plunkett could be a very unhealthy man sitting on the couch and watching basketball on TV, but instead he’s playing on the court.
Special Olympics has given Plunkett a new outlook on life. In fact, he owes his life to the organization. Thanks to the Healthy Athletes Program, which offers Special Olympic athletes free medical screenings, Plunkett’s doctors were able diagnose his gum cancer while it was still treatable.
After enduring years of bullying, Plunkett says his involvement in Special Olympics has brought him a sense of confidence and given him a new family. Within this community, for the first time in his life, he has found people who understand his unique struggles and who have given him the support to overcome them and thrive.
Plunkett has participated in Special Olympics for nearly 20 years, both as a competitor as well as a coach. But he says his next achievement is a dream come true. Plunkett is a member of the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Southern California, as well as LA2015 – the 2015 World Games Organizing Committee. He will be at the front and center of all the action at the World Summer Games in Los Angeles this month.
On this week’s episode of Full Frame, Dustin Plunkett sits down with Mike Walter to tell us why he thinks his athletes are some of the best in the world.
Follow Dustin Plunkett on Twitter: @DustinPlunkett
STOMP: Bringing people together through rhythm
Athletics – like the world-class events unfolding at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games unite people regardless of race, language and culture. The same can be said about the truly universal language of music. STOMP – a unique percussion performance showcasing the power of rhythm – has been bringing people together for decades, one boom and clank at a time.
STOMP uses matchboxes, oil drums, and brooms and myriad of other unconventional instruments to bring the stage alive with rhythm and beats. While the idea didn’t take off at first, 25 years later the unique Scottish music and theatrical performance group is now a worldwide phenomenon.
STOMP, tours internationally and is now one of the longest running theater performances in New York City. Audiences around the world are united through its universal rhythm, music, and even a bit of humor – proving that music truly is a shared human experience.
You won’t want to miss this week’s Full Frame Close Up as Mike Walter hits the stage with the cast members of STOMP in New York City and learns that keeping up with the beat is much harder than it looks.
Follow STOMP on Twitter: @STOMPNYC