Editor’s note: Today we’ve got a guest post from one of our Schools Partnership Program staffers – Victoria!
Hi all! Last week, I joined Special Olympics athletes, parents, staff and supporters from all over the country as we converged on Washington, D.C., to rock the Hill at Special Olympics’ 11th annual Capitol Hill Day. Three athletes from Northern California and Nevada, their parents and I met with 17 members of Congress and their staffers to educate on the life-changing power of Special Olympics and advocate for continued federal support.
The festivities started with a dinner reception at the hotel the evening preceding Capitol Hill Day. Northern California athlete Lindsay concluded the night by leading the group of 200+ supporters in the Special Olympics Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
The energy from dinner carried over to the next morning, when we made our way to Capitol Hill to begin our full day of meetings. With credentials and medals proudly displayed and informational folders in hand, the athletes took the lead by showing and telling members of Congress what Special Olympics means to them. The athletes, the parents and I all attested to the strength of programs such as Project UNIFY and Healthy Athletes, which partially rely on federal funding to continue.
A meeting highlight for the Northern California group included catching a glimpse of a prominently displayed photo in Representative Mike Honda’s office. The photo features athletes Lindsay and Stephanie with Representative Honda – and sits alongside one of Stephanie’s Special Olympics medals.
The excitement continued in the US Capitol Building for the team from Nevada, with whom I spent most of the day. One of our meetings was with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. During the time in Senator Reid’s office, athlete Hannah spoke about the positive change she has seen in herself – both socially and academically – since becoming a Special Olympics athlete.
Senator Reid also learned that he is an alumnus of the same high school Hannah currently attends!
Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy Shriver took time out of his incredibly busy day to join us for our meeting with Senator Reid.
Isn’t the view from Senator Reid’s office beautiful?
The day on the Hill culminated in a reception in one of the Senate buildings, where we mingled with groups from other states to gain insight into how the day went for other state programs. Everything concluded with a delicious dinner in Washington.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to the athletes and parents on the Special Olympics Northern California & Nevada Capitol Hill Day team! You all sure lived up to your promise to rock the Hill!