This June, my ASD son and I will travel to Athens for the Special Olympics World Summer Games. I volunteered in the physical therapy center for the ’84 Games, and witnessed first-hand the courage, camaraderie, and self-esteem boost this event inspires. Mind you, I’m talking amongst the volunteers. As with any other tale of service, the ultimate take-away always surpasses the put-in. I want that for my autistic son. It is a life lesson that he deserves and can, blessedly, perform. Give yourself and your children the same gift; doing service as a family exemplifies the values we wish to impart.
Come change a life- your own.
1. Join the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.
To date, 204,100 people have pledged online to stop using the word “retard” as a casual insult. It takes seconds to make this pledge; first, in your heart, and then online at: www.r-word.org .
2. Wear the Special Olympics laces.
For the cost of 4 Euros (about $5.75), you can become an ambassador for the Special Olympics cause wherever you (and your sneakers) go. To get a pair for your own athlete, go to: www.facebook.com/wearthelaces .
3. Social Media Gurus- UNITE!!
Better than anyone, you know how this works, and the power of the tools you possess. Follow @SpecialOlympics and/or find the handle of your own states local branch (ie. @SOVT in Vermont). Go to Special Olympics on Facebook and Like that page. Let your hundreds, your thousands of followers take your lead. Boy, that was easy.
4. Sit in the stands and raise your voice.
Throughout the year, each state and county hosts local games and events. Be a fan. No athlete likes to perform to empty stands. Check the Special Olympics Home Page for an event near your hometown. Pom poms work too.
5. Put your plastic to work.
Any small donation will allow just one more athlete with intellectual disabilities become part of something BIG. Go back to that home page and click donate: www.specialolympics.org.
6. Now really put your plastic to work!
Take advantage of the Bank of America special promotion. Parlay your usual everyday purchases into rewards for you, and $$ for a special athlete. For each new Special Olympics Visa account that is opened, the organization will receive a contribution of $1, and then 15 cents for every $100 in qualified purchases that you make. Now that’s buying power. To apply, go to:
7. Support a local Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Since 1981, police officers around the world have participated in this landmark grass-roots fundraising and public awareness campaign. (yet another reason to label them “heroes”.) Law enforcement officers run the “Flame of Hope” into the Opening Ceremonies of local, state national and world games, collecting sponsorships along the way. You can participate by buying a tee-shirt, rooting them on from your curb, or making a pledge to your favorite officer. Simply go to your particular state’s Special Olympics website and find the Torch Run near you.
8. Invite a Special Olympics Motivational Speaker to Present to Your Church, Synagogue, Girl Scout/Boy Scout Troop, School or Club.
Be inspired; educate your children; refer a special needs child or adult to the program. Simply Google Special Olympics Motivational Speakers and see what you get- motivation enough.
9. Did you know?!
The Special Olympics organization is the world’s largest public health care provider for individuals with intellectual disabilities? I did not. For the past 10 years, their Healthy Living Program has served special athletes through their free health screenings and consultations locally and abroad.
If you are a podiatrist, physical therapist, audiologist, dentist or physician, consider sharing your talents with a population that is more prone to multiple physical challenges. Change a life and help control health care costs internationally!
10. Still not convinced? Watch this…
Bring your hankie. Click on share. And buy a toy.
Please remember, the Special Olympics motto:
“WITH ME, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE”
Maybe my son and I will see you in Greece…
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