At Summer Games this year, you saw thousands of Special Olympics Illinois athletes competing in their respective sports. From the track at Illinois State University, to the soccer fields off of Gregory, to the pool and gymnastics mat at Normal Community High School, to the powerlifting floor at Kingsley Junior High School, there was an abundance of opportunities to watch your favorite sporting event.

But Summer Games consisted of more than just competition. On Saturday at Olympic Town, four Athlete Leaders got together to put on the premier of their latest venture – a live, athlete-led podcast called Meet the Inspired. Jose Moreno, Kaylee McLaughlin, Daniel Smrokowski, and Lisa Noble aimed to share their passion for creating a more inclusive world through broadcast, and they did exactly that.

Here’s what the hosts had to say about the debut:

“In my opinion, I think our first show went perfectly,” said Jose Moreno. “I wanted to give athletes a chance to learn how to do a live show and not to be afraid of the camera.”

Jose Moreno and Diane VanderKooy

“I wanted to start Meet the Inspired to show our community the leadership skills we have that go beyond the field of play,” said Daniel. “My favorite segment was getting the opportunity to talk to Dave Breen, the Special Olympics Illinois President & CEO.”

“My two favorite segments were when we interviewed one of our own coaches and when we just sat and talked to one another,” said Lisa. “We started this show so we could collaborate together.”

“I think it went great!” said Kaylee, “My favorite segment was Eric Baumann. He was a coach at USA Games, and we got to ask him questions about what he thought about coaching.”

From left to right: Kurt Noble, Lisa Noble, Kaylee McLaughlin, Eric Baumann

When asked what message each host has for their listeners, they said:

“My message for my listeners is to always be kind and treat people the way you want to be treated! If you don’t have a smile, give them one of yours,” said Kaylee.

“Individuals with intellectual disabilities are unique and different. With the right support, we can accomplish whatever we put our minds to,” said Lisa.

Daniel Smrokowski and Dave Breen

“The message I have for our listeners is to see that as Special Olympics Illinois Athlete Leaders, we can have the ability to host our own podcast shows, to accept and to include us, and see that there’s a lot that I am capable to do,” Daniel said.

“Thank you for watching our podcast,” said Jose, “I hope you liked our first show and I hope you return for more shows in the future.”

This group aims to broadcast at more major Special Olympics Illinois events in the future. Until then, be sure to watch their premier of Meet the Inspired on our Facebook page.

To learn more about Athlete Leadership, go to soill.org/athlete-leadership.