Special Olympics, NCAA Join Forces To 'Engage Athletes, Build Friendships'

January 17, 2011: Special Olympics has formed a community outreach alliance with the NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee that will link "hundreds of SAACs at Division III institutions and conference offices with local Special Olympics Programs in each state.

The alliance, which was unveiled during the Division III business session at the NCAA Convention, which was held in San Antonio Jan. 12-15. Both the Division III SAACs and Special Olympics said they would officially implement the campaign for the 2011-12 academic year. The stated mission is to "engage athletes of both organizations and to build and maintain mutually beneficial, sports-centric friendships."  

To jump-start the effort, the SAAC plans to establish a subcommittee to work with conferences to coordinate at least one Special Olympics activity per academic year. Individual campuses will also  be encouraged to initiate their own outreach.

Special Olympics, based in Washington, D.C.,  is an international non-profit organization, founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, that encompasses 3.5 million athletes in more than 170 countries, focusing on year-round sports training, athletic competition health screenings, and other related programs. The 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games are scheduled for June 25-July 4 in Athens. Corporate marketing partners include Coca-Cola, Cisco, Hertz, Procter & Gamble, Mattel and Microsoft.

NCAA corporate marketing partners include AT&T, Capital One, Coca-Cola. Enterprise, The Hartford, LG Electronics, Kraft Foods' brand Planters, Hershey's brand Reese's and UPS.

“The relationship with Special Olympics and Division III is a perfect connection,” Rich Fellingham, Special Olympics Iowa President Emeritus and co-founder of the partnership, said during the NCAA Convention. “More than 200 Division III schools already conduct outreach efforts involving Special Olympics and, today, we not only strengthen those existing relationships, but we start building new connections through the power of sport, the importance of fair-play and the need for inclusive respect on and off the playing field.”

"We not only strengthen existing relationships, but we start building new connections through the power of sport, fair-play and the need for inclusive respect.”

According to Dan Dutcher, vice-president of NCAA Division III, “Community outreach goes on every day on Division III campuses and in Division III communities. This initiative is designed to channel those activities in a way that will benefit the education of our student-athletes and Special Olympics athletes, alike.”

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