Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) athlete Sam Lopez (Austin, Texas) along with six other SOTX athletes from Amarillo and San Antonio will converge on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Feb. 10 for Special Olympics’ 14th annual “Capitol Hill Day.” Throughout the day, Lopez will join fellow Special Olympics athletes from across the nation and will hold more than 250 face-to-face meetings with their Congressional representatives to advocate for continued federal support for critical health and education services provided by Special Olympics.
Special Olympics self-advocates will educate lawmakers and their staffs about the significant consequences that arise from the stigma and stereotypes that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face and how that impacts their lives in the areas of sports, health care, education, and employment. The goal is to effectively convey the high-impact and cost-effectiveness of Special Olympics’ evidence-based programming that addresses these issues, and to secure continued support from legislators.
Lopez, 42, has participated in Special Olympics for five years. He competes in bowling, basketball and track and field. This past weekend at the statewide Winter Games, held in Austin, Lopez and his brother-in-law and Unified Partner Pat Dowling, earned a gold medal for their first place finish in Unified Bowling on Sunday afternoon at Highland Lanes. Pat, along with his wife Irene Dowling, who is Lopez’s sister and a SOTX employee, will travel to D.C. with Lopez this week.
The trip to D.C. will not be the first for Lopez, as he attended Capitol Hill Day six years ago and was recently selected from more than 53,000 SOTX athletes to represent the state at the White House when Pope Francis addressed the world from the nation’s capital during the pontiff’s first-ever trip to the U.S. back in September.
“The Special Olympics movement has been a leader in connecting people with intellectual disabilities and encouraging greater understanding and inclusion across the world,” said Mary Davis, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Special Olympics. “The U.S. Government’s partnership with Special Olympics to support Americans with intellectual disabilities has helped to raise awareness and catalyze support from governments around the globe for people with intellectual disabilities.”
Special Olympics Chairman, Timothy P. Shriver, said “the U.S. Government has been a steadfast champion of the Special Olympics movement which fights against inactivity, injustice, and intolerance of people with intellectual disabilities. We have been successful partners in working to create a unified America through inclusive sports, education and health programs. Together we need to continue working towards ensuring Americans with intellectual disabilities have the same rights, respect, access to services, and opportunities as all other Americans.”
Capitol Hill Day will conclude with a private reception at the Library of Congress for participating Special Olympics athletes and their state delegations.
About Special Olympics Texas
Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) is a privately funded non-profit organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect. SOTX provides continuing opportunities for more than 53,400 children and adults with intellectual disabilities throughout the Lone Star State to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. To learn more, visitwww.specialolympicstexas.org or call 800.876.5646. Engage with us on: Twitter @SOTexas; fb.com/SpecialOlympicsTX;youtube.com/specialolympicstexas.
Statewide Year-Round Co-Sponsors: