Host Jeremy C. Park talks with Adam Germek, President and CEO of Special Olympics Tennessee, who highlights the organization’s mission and efforts to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. During the interview, Adam talks about their events, the different sports, being volunteer powered, their newest initiative with Unified Champion Schools, how the community can get involved and much more.
- Special Olympics Mission: The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
- I personally got involved when my daughter was born 10 years ago. She was born with a rare genetic disorder and my wife and I were told that she may never walk, talk, dress herself, feed herself, etc. I was working in professional sports for the Memphis Grizzlies and needed to make a career change in order to be more available to support my daughter. Thankfully a position was open with Special Olympics that allowed me to share my passion for sports and also my passion for supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities. It has been such an amazing journey and one our family is so thankful for.
- Special Olympics hosts over 250 events each year throughout the state with local, regional and state events in 18 sports. Traditional sports like Track and field, team sports like flag football and basketball and even winter sports with skiing, ice skating and snowboarding.
- Our newest initiative which started 4 years ago is a program called Unified Champion Schools. This is a program that is funded through a grant from the Department of Special Education and allows us to go into schools with funding to help the school, school district and community create inclusive environments for all students. There are 3 components to this program, student leadership, whole school engagement and Unified sports opportunities (traditional students paired with students with disabilities).
- Special Olympics is working with TSSAA to sanction sports for Unified Teams to allow individuals with intellectual disabilities train and compete for a state championship for their school. Currently Track and Field and Bowling are sanctioned TSSAA sports.
- Outside of sports, Special Olympics also offers FREE health screenings in multiple disciplines including vision screenings, hearing screenings, free sports physicals, and a strong minds program that offers tips for social and emotional wellness support.
- Ways community members can get involved: coming out of COVID, we have a strong need for people interested in coaching, event volunteers and management team members for local programs.
- Upcoming events: pending COVID restrictions, we have upcoming events listed on our website that include our State Flag Football Tournament, State Golf events, State bowling events and Young athlete camps.