Initial Reflections From A Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger

By Daniel Smrokowski | 2018-2022 Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger, Special Olympics

Two weeks ago, my friends and family at Special Olympics had the privilege of surprising me with BIG news.  In the opening segment of a bonus LIVE podcast we recorded from the Lombard Offices of Special Olympics Illinois, I sit to the left of Director of Communications & Media Relations at Special Olympics Illinois, Alex McMillin, and in front of the red Special Olympics 50th Backdrop, as Alex and Chief Marketing Officer at Special Olympics Illinois, Chris Winston, play the official video announcement from Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Board of Special Olympics, selecting me for the prestigious class of 2018-2022 Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger.

Tim announced me to be selected as a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger (SSIGM).  I was speechless, for the first time, to be selected for this prestigious position.  I’m grateful and humbled to be selected as 1 of 10 athlete leaders, from a total of 80 of us who all had excellent applications to apply and a total of 5.6 million athletes in 172 countries.  In this 4-year position, I will spread the message of inclusion, the New Special Olympics (SO) Movement, and how every person, regardless of geographical boundaries, can Choose To Include and Join the Inclusion Revolution.

Just as SO is passionate about leading Full Inclusion beyond the playing field.   I’m looking forward to taking my athlete leadership to the next level.  As a SSIGM, I will lead the campaign for a more inclusive and accepting world for my fellow people with intellectual disabilities (ID).  Through my participation and leadership at world, regional, and local events, both internal and external of the SO Movement, I’ll challenge and change the mindset of political leaders, policy-makers, educators, employers, and society. My fellow SSIGM’s in our SO Movement, myself included, are redefining what it means to have intellectual disabilities.  During these next four years, I’ll travel the world reflecting on what it means to have special needs and what that redefinition can man to the mainstream community.

As I’ve been selected as 1 of 10 to become the face of SO globally, it’s a way to signal a shift to my fellow athletes as we are representing the Movement as leaders.  As a SSIGM, I’m very grateful to be part of this new class, 2018-2022, of athlete leaders and give the opportunity to showcase my extraordinary talents as a spokesperson, mostly at World Games, and demonstrate our unconditional love, enthusiasm, joy & determination that anything is possible–on the field and off the  field– when you never ever give up and how when you Choose To Include, the Inclusion Revolution can truly be a way of life.

Follow Daniel’s SSIGM Journey here.

Remember #ChooseToInclude:

Watch Daniel’s Reaction VideoStreaming Now and On Demand, Watch on SCTV.

Tune in to this week’s bonus podcastStreaming Now and On Demand, Listen on Podcasts.