Born from love and respect for all humanity, Special Olympics Montana is proud to announce its 50th Anniversary. Officially accredited May 15, 1970 to become Special Olympics Montana, we invite all our fans to celebrate with us in 2020 for what founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, knew to be true; that people with intellectual disabilities deserve every opportunity to excel and succeed, and to be included.
“This is the time to honor a movement that has transformed the lives of people with intellectual disabilities”, said Special Olympics Montana President/CEO, Rhonda McCarty. “This movement exists only because Montanan’s give generously of their time and resources. We’ve been in this together for 50 years and we look forward to the next 50 years with all our fans helping athletes achieve their hopes and dreams as we create communities of inclusion.”
Using sports training and competition as a catalyst to include and empower children and adults with intellectual disabilities, more than 10,000 athletes have participated in Special Olympics Montana over the past 50 years.
Inspired by the Athlete Oath, “Let me win, But if I cannot win, Let me be brave in the attempt”, athletes have found their voice, become leaders and self-advocates, are gainfully employed, and make meaningful contributions to their communities. As masterful teachers, athletes help all of us become our best selves. Through Special Olympics we have come to understand that when we lift-up others, we lift-up ourselves and all of humanity is better served.
2019 Special Olympics Montana Athlete of the Year, Kandi Christophersen, from the Billings Adult Team said of her experiences, “Special Olympics believed in me. Now I believe in myself. It’s not just about being good at sports. Special Olympics has helped me be the person I want to be.”
As a grassroots movement that is athlete-centered, family-based, volunteer-driven, and donor-supported, we are presently in more than 80 communities across Montana serving more than 3,500 athletes annually. As a year-round program offering 18 Olympic-type sports, athletes have opportunity to develop life skills on and off the playing field. Through health, education and leadership programs, athletes are healthier, happier, and are finding their rightful place in our communities.
Over the years, programs have expanded to include Athlete Leadership and Global Messenger training, a Young Athletes non-competitive program for 2-7 year old children, a Healthy Athletes and Communities program that helps athletes establish healthier lifestyles, Unified Sports® and whole school involvement through nearly 75 Unified Champion Schools® across the state, a Motor Activities Training program for athletes with severe and profound intellectual disabilities, and a partnership with the Montana High School Association to mainstream Special Olympics into school sports.
During this pandemic and economic crisis, we believe Special Olympics Montana athletes are a beacon of hope. They remind us to persevere. They remind us to be kind and considerate. They remind us that when we play unified, we live unified. They remind us that when we value, respect and include each other, we become stronger and more resilient. Qualities we need more than ever to overcome these extraordinarily difficult times.
To witness these values in action, please join faithful mission partner and our 50th Anniversary Premier Sponsor, the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, to celebrate Special Olympics Montana’s Golden Anniversary. While our State Summer Games have shifted to a virtual platform this year, with online sports, health and fitness programming, we are helping athletes stay fit and ready for the next time we gather on the playing field to compete.
To sustain these opportunities we need your support. Like so many organizations who depend on public support to deliver mission, Special Olympics Montana needs your donation today. Please consider a gift to our mission in the coming days.
For more information about how we are celebrating our 50th Anniversary year, how we are keeping athletes engaged during this pandemic, and how you can provide critical urgent support, please visit www.somt.org.
Rhonda McCarty, President/CEO