SourceAmerica, Special Olympics Prep Athletes for Success at Work and Play
CHICAGO – For 50 years, Special Olympics has encouraged people with disabilities to reach deep within themselves to achieve more on the playing field. For 44 years, SourceAmerica, a national leader in disability employment, has encouraged them to do the same in the workplace. Together, at the 50th anniversary celebration for Special Olympics, the two organizations are coming together to encourage athletes to maximize the skills they learn in competition for success in the workplace with the Journey of Employment job fair July 21.
The Journey of Employment job fair is part of the Global Day of Inclusion event at Soldier Field to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics. From 1-7 p.m., the fair offers career coaching, interview tips and introductions to participating companies such as Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Anixter Center, Health Care Service Corporation, Bank of America, Goodwill Industries of Metropolitan Chicago, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Opportunity Secure Data Destruction. Athletes will embark on a trip through a series of stations to assess, polish and present their skills to prospective employers that recognize the potential of Special Olympics athletes on the job.
It’s a journey many athletes have made successfully to find employment in SourceAmerica’s national network of nonprofits creating employment opportunities and choices for people with disabilities.
Jay Hannon has autism and works for Burlington Coat Factory in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, through SourceAmerica member agency Partnership Resources, Inc. He has competed in swimming events through Special Olympics for 17 years, takes leadership classes through the program and speaks to crowds of hundreds about his experiences. He’s learned to focus better, work on a team and see things through, he said.
“It teaches me to respect everyone’s abilities and never assume that a disability prevents learning a new task and becoming a valuable employee,” Hannon said.
Mike Madden works at MDI, a manufacturing and packaging nonprofit in Minneapolis. He’s competed in golf, flag football, bowling, floor hockey, softball and basketball. Like Hannon, Madden said Special Olympics has taught him not just motor skills, but also how to stay on task and work in a group. Madden said hitting his productivity goal is like winning an event.
“Working toward that productivity goal, encouraging their coworkers to work toward that goal, also having the focus, the drive to work to do their best at their job – I think Special Olympics definitely teaches someone to be the best they can be, and those skills transfer to the workplace too,” said Janna Madden, his mother.
SourceAmerica’s Ellis Rosenberg, senior vice president of Growth, agreed.
“Special Olympics athletes know how to dig deep to put forth their best effort,” he said. “They are leaders and dedicated team players. Our clients benefit from that work ethic and talent, and everyone benefits from an inclusion economy.”
Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International, encouraged employers to consider athletes part of the talent pool.
“People with intellectual disabilities (ID) make great employees at every level of organizations and businesses,” Shriver said. “Our message to employers is: Hire more people with ID — and make your work force a more inclusive work force. Thank you SourceAmerica for all you do to help people with ID secure good jobs.”
For more information, go to sourceamerica.org/special-olympics.