In the world of sports, coaches often provide the spark — whether the right words of encouragement, an unexpected opportunity to contribute or simply instilling belief in the possibility of success — at the right moment to give individuals the momentum necessary to excel together.
Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver was that spark — and still is to as many as 200 million people with intellectual disabilities (IDs) around the world. Special Olympics' goal is to reach every one of them — and their families as well.
Early in life, Shriver was moved to action after witnessing firsthand the unfair treatment of people with ID. She would ultimately provide a revolutionary opportunity for individuals across the world to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy as respected members of society through sport.
As official sponsor of Special Olympics Sport and Coach programming, Gallagher is proud to honor this legacy by partnering with Special Olympics International to promote inclusion, equality and acceptance around the world.
"We are extremely proud to be teaming up with Special Olympics by delivering support in several local communities where we live and work, and will open the door for more people with intellectual disabilities to learn teamwork, improve their fitness and develop confidence," said Gallagher Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Chris Mead.
Without Shriver's focus, ambition and determination to champion ability, not disability, it is unlikely the organization could have grown from a backyard summer camp to an inspirational global movement.
Origins of Special Olympics
Fifty-three years ago, the world began to change for the better for millions of people with intellectual disabilities — and for all those who love them. And it started in Chicago, Illinois.
On July 20, 1968, nearly 1,000 athletes from the U.S. and Canada gathered for the first Special Olympics International Summer Games at Chicago's Soldier Field. This historic event marked a major step in the progression of sport for people with ID around the world.
At the opening of the games, Shriver — the guiding force of this global movement — delivered an inspiring message that would serve as the foundation of the Special Olympics coaching philosophy for years to come. She encouraged participants to think, "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." That quote became the Athlete Oath for the Special Olympics
Decades prior, the organization that would become Special Olympics International began its journey with establishment of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation in 1946. Shriver was initially a trustee and later took over direction of the foundation in 1957.