Special Olympics athletes and advocates from across the United States converged in Washington, DC on February 12 for the annual Special Olympics Capitol Hill Day. This is the 17th year Special Olympics has organized the event, with over 250 delegates representing 44 states and the District of Columbia.
Special Olympics athletes held over 300 face-to-face meetings with Members of Congress in both the House and Senate, inviting their elected officials to partner with them to expand Special Olympics Unified Sports® and Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools®. The meetings served to educate lawmakers about the need to end health care and education disparities and discrimination against roughly 1% of the U.S. population with intellectual disabilities. The goals of Capitol Hill Day were to convey the high impact of Special Olympics’ evidence-based programming that addresses these issues.
Fundora and the Florida delegation talking with Representative Ted Yoho of Florida
Athlete Leader and Health Messenger, Daniel Fundora made the trip to Washington, DC for this evnet where he had the chance to serve as a self-advocate to Florida’s Members of Congress and advise on athlete needs in our community.
Fundora met with Tim Shriver, Joe Kennedy III, Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman John Rutherford, Congressman Ted Yoho, Congresswoman Donna Shalala, Congressman Greg Steube, Congressman Matt Gaetz, and Congressman Alcee L. Hastings to talk about Special Olympics and help spread the word of inclusion and acceptance.
Fundora visiting the National Museum of American History
“It was an honor to represent Florida for Special Olympics Capitol Hill Day to discuss health and education and show what Special Olympics is all about. What Tim Shiver said…we will not be silent!” said Fundora.
“No one can better articulate a vision for a more inclusive America or demonstrate how a nation can unite as one than the athletes and Unified partners of Special Olympics,” said Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics. Shriver added, “Our athletes and youth leaders will lead us in the Inclusion Revolution, our collective fight to end discrimination for people with intellectual disabilities. But we can’t do it alone. We need governmental support to preserve laws guaranteeing the rights and full participation and integration of people with intellectual disabilities into our society.”
Fundora with Representative Joe Kennedy III and Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver
Capitol Hill Day would not be possible without Johnson & Johnson’s continued support. Their on-going commitment allows Special Olympics delegates from across the nation to travel to Washington, DC and receive comprehensive training and education to best prepare them for an effective and successful Capitol Hill Day.
“Johnson & Johnson prioritizes health and wellness for all people. We are honored to partner with Special Olympics during their Capitol Hill Day,” said Jane M. Adams, Vice President, Federal Government Affairs, Johnson & Johnson. “Effective advocacy is essential to raise awareness with elected officials and to secure public policy efforts to promote the mission of Special Olympics and commitment to important health programs.”
In more than 6,000 Unified Champion Schools across the country, Special Olympics has trained youth leaders and educators to create inclusive schools. Students with and without ID are playing and competing together through Special Olympics Unified Sports. These experiences help increase acceptance of all abilities in classrooms and are reducing stigma and bullying.
Special Olympics offers free health events where Special Olympics athletes receive health screenings and education, and where health professionals are trained to offer health access to people with ID. Over the past 20 plus years in the U.S. alone, Special Olympics provided over 900,000 health screenings and trained over 98,000 health care professionals.
Learn more about Special Olympics Florida Health Programs.