In recognition of International Women’s Day I wanted to share with you four great stories of inspiration straight from the halls of Special Olympics!
Kathryn is Special Olympics’ Director of Athlete Leadership Programs and over this past weekend was one of six recipients of the Peace Corps’ 2011 John F. Kennedy Service Award. She won in the category of ‘Returned Peace Corps Volunteers’ for having demonstrated continued domestic and international service and leadership in her community. Kathryn served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone from 1968 to 1969 and in Jamaica from 1984 to 1987. After returning from Peace Corps service in Sierra Leone, she became an area coordinator for Special Olympics in North Carolina. When she volunteered again with the Peace Corps in the 1980s – and at the request of founding Peace Corps Director, the late Sargent Shriver – Kathryn became the first Peace Corps volunteer to launch a Special Olympics-based project. She eventually helped establish Special Olympics programs across the Caribbean and Africa and has continued working with Special Olympics ever since.
Mary serves as the Interim Chief Marketing and Development Officer for Special Olympics. She wrote an insightful column in the Irish Independent today entitled, “Still a long road ahead to equality for women.” I hope you can read it. Here is an excerpt:
Women can be more supportive of each other, particularly by encouraging younger women to develop professionally. A critical next step for women is to support and to enable men to be home makers and parents as well as CEOs. If women are to be free to make choices, society has to be free and fair as well.
Mary also paid tribute to Special Olympics founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, calling her “a strong woman driven by the values of respect for all” which reminded me that it’s impossible to have a day recognizing women without taking four minutes to pay respect to Mrs. Shriver with this tribute video below.
We always save the best for last, and here she is, Special Olympics Uganda’s Florence Nabayinda. Florence has an amazing story of impact that goes back to her youth when she thought of herself as “trash” and progresses through an amazing journey as a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger, Special Olympics International Board Director, and perhaps most importantly to her, a lead ambassador in garnering support for the expansion of rights and opportunities for people with ID from the government in her home country of Uganda. You can read her full story and watch the video of this amazing woman’s strength and courage.