Office of External Affairs

July 9, 2018

From the VP – Celebrating the 2018 Special Olympics U.S.A. Games

Randy Hodgins

Today is the final day of competition for the 2018 U.S.A. Special Olympic games here in the greater Seattle area and at the University of Washington.  It’s hard to believe that the planning and coordination to host these games that began on campus more than two years ago has finally concluded with an incredibly successful week ofUSA games track competition and sportsmanship.  Let me be one of the first to thank everyone at the University who helped plan and execute the logistics of hosting thousands of athletes, coaches and spectators and to the many faculty, staff, students and alums who served all week as volunteers or who simply attended events.  As I have participated in activities all week, walked around campus and visited the athletic venues, I have heard numerous visitors enthusiastically remark on what a great welcome they have USA games Alaska Airlines Field entrancereceived from our campus community and what great memories of Seattle and the UW they will take home to their various states.  Well done UW!

As a board member for the U.S.A. Special Olympic games for the past two years, I have had the good fortune to meet dozens of people who have been involved in this movement for many years.  To a person, they kept remarking on how much our involvement in hosting the games would mean for us – not just for the athletes who were here to compete on behalf of their home states – but how the games themselves would change how we view our broader community and especially our fellow citizens with intellectual disabilities.  I don’t think I realized exactly what that meant until I rode back on light rail Thursday night from Seattle Mariners game with some athletes and coaches from the Nevada Special Olympics basketball team.  As we chatted on the trip back to Husky Stadium, they expressed how excited they were to be part of these games, and as we talked they had a million questions about Seattle, the UW, how much longer before the light rail system is completed and so on.  Their friendliness and excitement were infectious and just talking to them brightened my evening.  My wife Tina and I promised we would be there the next morning at 8:00 a.m. when they would play Indiana in the gold medal basketball game at Hec Ed.  They also wanted to know if I had any extra “W” pins which I was sad to say I did not remember to pack along with me.

Friday morning we showed up to watch the Nevada teamUSA games basketball play the gold medal game which they lost in a close contest 31-30 to Indiana.  Tina remembered to bring along a few W pins and after the game she presented them to one of the athletes and one of the coaches who we sat next to the night before.  U.S.A Games CEO Tim Shriver said it best recently in the Seattle Times.  The U.S.A. Games are in Seattle because we are taking a stand for inclusion, for the knowledge that everyone has a gift, and we are better when we celebrate others’ gifts than when we demonize each other’s differences.”

USA games challengeSo here’s to the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics and the UW’s role in the history of this marvelous movement.  As the week comes to a close, let’s hope that we keep the spirit of these games in all we do.  Each day we smile a little more, we work to be a little kinder, we strive to be a bit more tolerant, we try to be more patient and if we do these things, we will fulfill our goal to be the inclusive community we were meant to be.