Special Olympics Florida launches “Race for Inclusion” campaign to promote acceptance and diversity

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Special Olympics kicked off a nine-month campaign Wednesday to make communities around Florida more accepting of people with intellectual disabilities.

For more than 50 years, Special Olympics has made it their mission to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people, using sports as the vehicle for change.

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The CEO of Special Olympics Florida, Sherry Wheelock, says the pandemic has made the need to focus on inclusion that much more important.

“I think because of the isolation we’ve all experienced...we all realize even more so how important it is to not be excluded and to feel a part of something,” Wheelock says.

With that in mind, the “Race for Inclusion” got underway Wednesday.

Eric Taylor, who was born with Cerebral Palsy, is one of thousands of athletes who have experienced the power of inclusion through Special Olympics.

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“It’s just been a lifelong blessing of always,” Taylor says. “There’s no you can’t do this, or you’re not strong enough to do this. It’s everybody’s equal. And just everybody gives it their best.”

For the last 28 years, Taylor has competed in multiple sports, always thankful to be involved.

“I don’t look at it as being special needs,” Taylor says. “I just look at it as, I want to make friends and show people that no matter the way we look...call it race, color. With Special Olympics and inclusion, there’s none of that. It’s everybody’s equal across the board.”

The inaugural “Race for Inclusion” campaign coincides with “Spread the Word” day, a global effort to commit acts of inclusion within individual communities.

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“I think it just takes that concept of unity and being together and learning how to be compassionate leaders to the next level,” Wheelock adds. “The campaign is really focused on that this year.”

For more information on how to donate or volunteer to be a part of the Race for Inclusion, click here.