Special Olympics athletes, leaders, and family members from 39 states converged on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on February 10th for Special Olympics’ 14th Annual “Capitol Hill Day.” Throughout the day, Special Olympics athletes from across the nation, including Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Bedford County athlete Christa Mereen, held 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. These services transcend the playing field and transform the lives of athletes and families, bringing inclusion and greater acceptance of all abilities to classrooms across the country and providing essential health care that is otherwise often unavailable due to the lack of trained health care providers and facilities.
Special Olympics self-advocates educated 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.
Christa was able to meet with several staff members as well as officials like Rep. Mike Doyle for PA’s 14th Congressional District, Rep. Ryan Costello for the 16th District, Congressman Glenn Thompson for the 5th District, Rep. Lou Barletta for the 11th District, and Rep. Bill Shuster for the 9th District. Click here to view Capitol Hill Day photos.
Capitol Hill Day concluded with a private reception at the Library of Congress for participating Special Olympics athletes and their state delegations.
Special thanks to our athlete representative Christa Mereen who was accompanied by her family members, Marty, Tom and Kate Mereen, and Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s VP of Finance and Administration Susan Wyland.