Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stories We Love to Share: GoFundMe Partners with the Special Olympics

As you may know, more than 2,700 athletes from over 100 countries will compete in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, which run March 14 through March 25. But what you might not realize is that it costs about $2,500 per athlete for travel, training, equipment, coaching and accommodations. This is a steep price to pay for most in attendance and in the past has deterred many from participating. Well, times are changing--and for the better--thanks to a budding partnership between the Special Olympics and GoFundMe.

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Crowdfunding platform GoFundMe announced a "global sponsorship" with the Special Olympics last Thursday, launching nearly 500 online campaigns to support athletes, teams and delegations. The effort not only encourages people around the world to pitch in, but also spotlights the personal stories of those competing. The partnership will help offset this burden and will also empower the intellectual disability community in the process, helping the teams focus on what matters most: Community and sport.

Fifty percent of all campaign donations will support local delegations, while 25 percent will go to Special Olympics International and another 25 percent will go to the Games Organizing Committee. Olympic champions like Simone Biles and Apolo Ohno are supporting the initiative, and YouTube stars and other influencers will participate by creating specific campaigns to "sponsor" an athlete or team. In one campaign, U.S. Olympic snowboarder Hannah Teter is sponsoring 25-year-old Daina Shilts, whom she met at the 2013 Special Olympics in South Korea. Teter is raising $17,500 for Shilts and the rest of the U.S. Special Olympics Snowboarding team to get to the World Games this year.

Olympic champion Hannah Teter (left) and Special Olympics gold medal snowboarder Daina Shilts.

The Special Olympics was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968, when the first games took place at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. It grew out of a summer camp she started for young people after she learned many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t have spaces to play. Many people credit Kennedy Shriver with laying the foundation for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act — two important pieces of legislation that advanced the rights of people with disabilities. Without the efforts started by Kennedy Shriver, the partnership between the Special Olympics and GoFundMe wouldn't be possible today.

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This initiative is the most beautiful thing we've seen in the media in months. Each GoFundMe campaign can be found here. We hope you consider donating and sponsoring these hardworking athletes to make their dreams come true. A big thank you to GoFundMe for devouring the details of this beautiful initiative. We wish each Olympian the best of luck as the conquer the 2017 World Winter Games!

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