Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day

On July 20, 1968, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics, held the first ever international Special Olympics Games at Soldier Field in Chicago. Approximately 1000 athletes from 26 U.S. states and Canada competed in three sports: track and field, floor hockey, and swimming.

After the Games, then Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said, “You know, Eunice, the world will never be the same after this.” And it never was. Today, there are 4.9 million athletes who participate in Special Olympics in 223 national and U.S. programs in 172 countries, and there are over 1 million coaches and volunteers.

This past July 20, Special Olympics celebrated Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day as a way to recognize her achievements and her legacy on the forty-ninth anniversary of the first international Special Olympics. To celebrate, I decided to draft a resolution recognizing July 20, 2017, as Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day in Pennsylvania.

After drafting the resolution, I went to the Pennsylvania State Capitol, and even though the House of Representatives wasn’t in session, they were still working. While waiting for them to return from meetings, I found this painting in the Capitol showcasing Pennsylvania’s relationship with Special Olympics. It’s “Rare Halo Display: A Portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver” by David Lenz.

I asked Representative Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) to sponsor my resolution, and he was honored. In 2013, he had won the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award because of his efforts as an advocate for people with physical and intellectual disabilities, individuals with mental illnesses, and the importance of drug and alcohol treatment and prevention.

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Left to Right: Representative DiGirolamo, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, and Tom Dunkin, Chairman of the Board of the Northeast Community Center for Behavioral Health

In total, the resolution had 30 co-sponsors in addition to Representative DiGirolamo. Because he had to wait for the House to come back into session, the resolution was unanimously adopted September 11! Click here to read it.

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Thank you to Representative DiGirolamo, my dad, and the co-sponsors for all their hard work in helping me get this resolution passed!

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Paris 2024 and LA 2028!

131st IOC Session Lima - 2024 & 2028 Olympics Hosts Announcement

The bids’ leaders celebrate with IOC President Thomas Bach.

On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee met in Lima, Peru, and voted for Paris to host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics and for Los Angeles to host the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics. After the vote, IOC President Thomas Bach said, “this is a win-win-win situation for Paris, Los Angeles, and the entire Olympic Movement.” The IOC and the two bid cities agreed on this decision earlier this year, but it was still a historic moment for two Summer Olympic host cities to be chosen at the same time. Bach said the votes for both cities were unanimous.

For Paris, the 2024 Olympics will mark the 100-year anniversary of the last time it hosted the Olympics in 1924. With this Olympics, it will become the second city to host three Summer Games.

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The 2028 Olympics will be the third time Los Angeles has hosted the Summer Olympics as well. It previously held them in 1932 and 1984.

The race for the 2024 Olympics started with so many cities, and it’s exciting that at the end, we learned who won the 2024 and 2028 Olympics! It will be fun to follow the cities’ progress throughout their organizing process, and I can’t wait to go to both!

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Here are their websites for more information: Paris 2024 and LA 2028

The Olympics of Dogs

It’s Friday! In honor of Friday and looking forward to the weekend, here are 4 fun facts about dogs and the Olympics.

  1. Last year, Brazil hosted its first Dog Olympics to celebrate the end of its Olympic summer, and it took place on the last day of the Paralympics. Throughout the day, dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes competed for medals in diving, jumping, swimming, and running.

2. Before the Sochi 2014 Olympics, many people had to step in and help stray dogs living in Sochi. For example, a Russian business mogul, Oleg Deripaska, created a shelter in the hills above Sochi. To save dogs, volunteers drove a golf cart around to pick them up and take them to the shelter. People who were in Sochi for the Games, including many U.S. athletes, adopted some of the strays and brought them home. For example, Gus Kenworthy, a U.S. skier, adopted two dogs, Jake and Mishka.

People are still rescuing Sochi’s dogs. Vlada Provotorova, a Sochi resident, has been saving as many dogs off the streets as she can since 2014 and was able to set up a charity called Sochi Dogs, where you can adopt dogs from Sochi even if you live in another country! Check out the website for more information: http://www.sochidogs.org/

3. At the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials (click here if you want to read an interview with one of the swimmers who competed there!), therapy dogs were allowed on deck to help swimmers stay calm before and after their races. For the meet, USA Swimming partnered with Domesti-PUPS to provide swimmers with therapy dogs. They even had credentials, so they could be on deck!

Above photos from http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/u-s-swimmers-therapy-dogs-relax-olympic-trials-article-1.2694270.

4. Before the 2016 Olympics, many dog owners dressed their dogs up to support the athletes. One Instagram, @thedogstyler, dressed dogs up as different types of athletes, and they’re so cute!

Enjoy your Friday with your furry friends!

Looking Back…

 

For the past two years, August has been a special month for me. Two years ago, I had just finished volunteering at the Los Angeles 2015 World Summer Games. One year ago, I was in Rio volunteering for the Rio 2016 Olympics. Both of those experiences are very important to me, and I have such wonderful memories for both of them. Before both of these experiences, I was very nervous. For LA, I was traveling somewhere by myself and volunteering at an international event for the first time, and for Rio, I was going to Brazil without knowing a lot of people or a lot of Portuguese. However, I loved each experience so much.

Thinking back to August 2016 and 2015, I thought a good blog post would feature my favorite picture from each one. I love photography, and there are some photos that really capture the spirit of the Games.

Here’s my favorite photo from LA 2015:

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LA 2015 was an eye-opening experience for me partly because it seemed like the whole world had come together to compete or to cheer for the athletes, but also because of moments like this. This is one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. Those two athletes are from different countries, might not even have spoken the same language, and one of them won gold while the other won silver, but they are united in their celebration. They look so happy, proud, and triumphant. It makes me happy just to look at it.

For Rio 2016, it was a lot harder to choose, but I do love this one.

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This photo reminds me of the Closing Ceremony, one of my favorite moments of the Olympics. It was a symbol that I had achieved my dream of going to the Olympics. I had gone there and made the most of it. I was there at the Closing Ceremony! It felt like a really big party, and I think this photo captures that.

Thanks for reminiscing with me! Even though I’m sad that these events are over, the great thing about the Olympics and Special Olympics is that there will always be more moments like these in the future.

Phelps vs. Shark

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Tonight at 8 pm EST, you can watch Michael Phelps race a Great White Shark! As a part of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, Michael Phelps flew to Cape Town, South Africa, to swim against a Great White in a 100-meter open water race. For safety reasons, he did not swim next to the shark, and there were about 15 safety divers around. Their times were compared to identify a winner.

tv_phelps1a.jpgThe special is called Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White, and although we probably can guess who will win, who knows? Great Whites normally swim 10 miles per hour but can reach up to 35 miles per hour, but Michael Phelps has won 28 Olympic medals and wore a custom monofin (a single fin flipper that looks like a shark tail) to swim faster. Additionally, it’s a lot easier to ask Michael Phelps to swim in a straight line for 100 meters than a shark! We’ll have to see!

It will be fun to watch, and Phelps said that swimming with sharks first in the Bahamas and then in Cape Town was unbelievable. He hopes that his experience and the show on Discovery tonight will educate others about sharks. He said, “Sharks aren’t out to eat us. They’re just like us, trying to survive.”

Phelps will be in another show on Shark Week called Shark School with Michael Phelps, which airs July 30 at 8 pm EST.

Olympic Comebacks

When the Olympics are over, what do Olympians do? Many of them retire, but some keep training for the next four years until the next Olympics. The really interesting and inspiring stories happen when retired athletes come back and begin training to compete at the Olympics after a long time in retirement. Here are a few of their stories.

Laura Wilkinson 

Here’s Laura’s comeback video. She competed the Sydney 2000 Olympics and won a gold medal even with a broken foot. Her medal was the first gold for an American female competing on the 10 meter platform since 1964. At the Athens 2004 Olympics, she won fifth place, and in 2005, she won gold at the World Championships. She competed at the Beijing 2008 Olympics and then retired. Now, at 39 years old, she is working to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Good luck, Laura!

Janet Evans

Janet Evans, a three-time Olympian (1988, 1992, 1996), won four gold medals and held seven world records by the time of her retirement. In 2011, she began training again to compete at the London 2012 Olympics, and at the age of 40, she competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She finished 80th out of 113 swimmers in the 400-meter freestyle and 53rd out of 65 swimmers in the 800-meter freestyle. Currently, she is the Vice Chairperson, Chair of the Bid Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, and Director of Athlete Relations at the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee.

Ed Moses

Ed Moses competed at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and won a gold medal in the 4 by 100-meter medley relay and a silver in the 100-meter breaststroke. Over his career, he also set two world records. He made a comeback and qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials but didn’t make it out of the first round in either of his events. Amazingly, he qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials after only 2 practices in the 4 years before.

Anthony Ervin

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Anthony Ervin, a three-time Olympian (2000, 2012, 2016), has won three gold medals and one silver over his career. He competed at the 2000 Olympics where he tied for first in the 50-meter freestyle and won silver on a relay team. He retired in 2003 and sold his gold medal on eBay for $17,000 to help the survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. In 2012, he came out of retirement and won fifth place in the 50-meter freestyle. At the Rio 2016 Olympics, he won gold in the 50 free for the second time and gold in a relay.

Dara Torres

Dara Torres is the first swimmer to compete for the U.S. at 5 Olympic Games (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2008). Over her career, she won 12 Olympic medals including 4 gold, 4 silver, and 4 bronze. She has won at least 1 medal at each of the Olympics she competed in. In 2000, she made a comeback and competed at the Sydney Olympics after being retired for 7 years. At those Olympics, she won more medals than any other member of Team USA even though she was the oldest member of the U.S. Olympic swim team. When she was 41, she had her second comeback at the Beijing 2008 Olympics and won 3 silver medals.

The Olympics of Blogs will keep you updated on any more comebacks that happen before the Tokyo 2020 Games!

Additional News…

Tomorrow night at 8 pm EST on ABC is the ESPYS, the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards. Tim Shriver, the Chairman of Special Olympics, will be accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on behalf of his late mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who started Special Olympics. Eight athletes will be on stage with him. I’m sure it will be a night to remember, and I’m really excited to watch it!

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Two Years on the Blog Today!

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Happy second birthday to my blog!

When I started this blog, I was so nervous to have people read my writing that I almost didn’t do it. Even though I still get nervous about it sometimes, I’m glad I started it and created an opportunity for myself to learn more about blogging, writing, and the Olympic Movement. I hope that reading this blog for the past two years has been fun, informative, and inspiring, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Here’s to many more years for the Olympics of Blogs!

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