By Barry Janoff
February 16, 2017: When the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria begin on March 14, the 12-day event (running through March 25) will encompass more than 2,700 athletes from 100-plus countries competing in nine sports.
Of those, Special Olympics Team USA is expected to send 150 athletes, 40 coaches and some 20 delegation members who support team operations.
To help offset costs, Special Olympics has aligned for the first time with GoFundMe to created almost 500 destinations where people can donate to help these athletes "on their journey to the Games with expenses related to travel, training, equipment, coaching, and accommodations."
The GoFundMe effort is being supported by a multi-media campaign, "Let’s Go," that includes a 90-second spot featuring participation from several current and former Olympians.
To raise awareness for the effort, Simone Biles, Julia Mancuso, Jamie Anderson, Apolo Ohno, Chris Chelios, Hannah Teter, Aly Raisman and Danny Davis have "shared messages of encouragement to Special Olympic athletes in a video embodying Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy's message of hope and victory.”
Athletes headed to Austria have also created personal messages at the GoFundMe Special Olympics destination. Each sub-site keeps a running total of how much has been donated to each team or athlete.
Bank of America is premier sponsor for the Special Olympics USA National Team heading to the World Winter Games. Sponsors also include Audi, Coca-Cola and Microsoft.
"We are proud to partner with Special Olympics to help support these remarkable athletes and their communities," Rob Solomon, CEO for GoFundMe, said in a statement. "GoFundMe's mission is to empower people to help people, and Special Olympics has been helping to empower people with intellectual disabilities for almost 50 years.
"It's an honor to share the stories of these competitors who have overcome obstacles," said Solomon.
The spot features shots of Special Olympic athletes in action, interspersed with a speech from the late Eunice Kennedy, which is read by her and the famous Olympic stars.
"You are the stars, and the world is watching you," begins Kennedy, followed by the athletes, who each recite a different section. "Your courage sends a message to every city, every village, every nation. A message of hope. A message of victory. The right to show the world what you are made of. You have earned the right to work your way to the top. You have earned it. The right to make your mark. The right to say I am a champion. The Special Olympic Winter Games are upon us. Let’s go!"
"You are the stars, and the world is watching you. Your courage sends a message to every city, every village, every nation. A message of hope. A message of victory."
Text reads, "Support an athlete on their way to the Games," and directs viewers to the GoFundMe Web site.
The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago in 1968, the first International Special Olympics Winter Games were held in February 1977 in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
For the first time in the history of the Special Olympics World Winter Games, ESPN and ABC networks will cover events from start to finish, with features, interviews and news updates throughout the competition.
The World Winter Games Opening Ceremony will air on ABC (March 18), followed by Games coverage on ABC the next day, a program each weeknight on ESPN2 from March 20-24 and a wrap up program following the Games, recapping the competitions and Closing Ceremony.
ESPN said its nightly coverage would include interviews with athletes and special guests, a daily competition showcase featuring highlights from the day’s action during SportsCenter and other ESPN programming, profiles and feature stories and on-site reporting.
Team USA Heating Up For ’17 Special Olympics Winter World Games
Back to Home Page