Richard Attias, from DOHA Goals, addressed the Summit explaining that his “background is being a civil engineer, but I realized the best way to connect people is not to just build roads or bridges but to plan events for people to meet together.” For Mr. Attias, sport was a way to build strong friendships and relationships. He realized the power of sport and continued by saying “sport is a philosophy as a way to support inclusion and health. Sport is a tool for tolerance and initiative that is how you open everyone including countries that are quite isolated to the world.” This mentality creates a symbiotic relationship between Doha Goals and Special Olympics.
Saturday was nothing short of inspiring. Our leaders were challenged to be great by Marc Edenzon, Chief of Global Programs for Special Olympics. Saturday’s program continued to inspire our leaders with an iconic line up of speakers featuring Deepak Chopra, Chairperson of Lions Clubs International Joe Preston and Leo youth leader Tanyaradzwa Shanitah Nzvengende, Michael Yudin, the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Director of Communication of Essilor Laura Viscovich, US Fund for UNICEF’s Senior Vice President Barron Segar and US Fund for UNICEF’s Special Olympics Ambassador Lucy Meyer, International Global Messenger Nitzeida Galves Orozco, ESPN’s Kevin Martinez, Dan’l Lewin from Microsoft, Director of Communication of Essilor Laura Viscovich, Chief eXploration Officer of Tencent David Wallerstein, NBA star Damian Lillard, Olympic Snowboarder Hannah Teter and her xGames teammate and Special Olympics athlete Daina Shilts, Tim Harris from Tim’s Place, Chief Dream Builder at Building Tomorrow George Srour, and Sarah Cronk from the Sparkle Effect,.
George Srour, an alumni from the inaugural Youth Summit in 2001 hosted in Anchorage Alaska, spoke to our leaders about his experience. Mr. Srour has seen barriers crumble through his involvement in Special Olympics and realizes each individual’s strength. He explained “if you gave me a hammer and a nail and told me to try to use them both. I would probably blow my thumb off and drop the hammer on my foot. That is not my skill set.” Mr. Srour believes that “passion can completely override the impossible. Passion eats the impossible for breakfast every single day.”
UNICEF and Special Olympics have created partnerships in over 30 different countries. US Fund for UNICEF was proud to announce the first Ambassador of the US Fund for UNICEF and Special Olympics, Lucy Meyer. Ms. Meyer believes “we can all work together to change the world by making it inclusive for all people with disabilities.”
Our parade of inspiring speakers continued with Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger from Panama Nitzeida Galves Orozco, who shared her story of growing up in Panama and overcoming her struggle. “Sometimes we feel invisible. We want true inclusion on the playing field the barriers come down. With effort we take one step at a time with limited strength in many cases.” She left the Summit with this message to think about “We must persevere in order to reach our dreams. It doesn’t matter how much we fight, we must fight.”
Tim Harris from Tim’s Place shared his seven steps to an awesome life.
The Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) Michael Yudin from the U.S. Department of Education spread the message of inclusion, equity, and opportunity. He wants to “change the culture of expectations.”
ESPN’s Kevin Martinez shared their new vision of sport by showing the power to change and unite people. ESPN is aiming “ to measure success and make tangible impact” by telling “the authentic rich story.”
Tanyaradzwa Shanitah Nzvengende, from Zimbabwe’s Lion Club inspired our leaders to “give the world something to talk about! Let’s be the change we want to see!” We will continue over the final days to grow, learn, and lead together.