As Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes across the state stay home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Vice President of Unified Leadership, Jeanne Hrovat, is reaching out by phone to members of the Athlete Input Council (AIC) and other athlete leaders. We recognize the importance of checking in with people and going the extra mile to stay connected during this time of social distancing. We will be publishing her accounts of these conversations. They have been lightly edited for clarity.
By Jeanne Hrovat
I had a wonderful conversation with Edward Kastern recently, and it prompted me to start documenting my conversations with our athlete leaders to share with the larger SOWI community. I can’t promise they’ll be perfectly written or sent on any particular day, but I will do my best to keep people updated on what our incredible athlete leaders are up to during these unusual and trying times.
Edward Kastern participates with Oshkosh Special Olympics (4-02) and joined the Athlete Input Council (AIC) last year. He is also a Global Messenger, Athlete Health Leader and Athlete Coach.
Edward spoke at Brillion’s middle and high schools earlier this month as part of their Respect Week festivities. He said there were about 500-600 kids between the two groups and mentioned the middle school kids had so much energy and many came up to him afterwards and said, “great job.” He wrote his speech all by himself by listing key points and then speaking from the heart. He feels he has a strong message and would like to be a professional speaker someday.
Edward is the host of his own cable TV show called Making it Happen. Ed describes his show as being about “People who make a big impact in the community, as well as people who have faced obstacles and challenges to get where they want to go.” His show has won two awards in the last two years. He has even had on fellow SOWI athlete and AIC member Zachary Reetz on!
His most recent guest was American Idol contestant Franki Moscato. At the end, she sings a few bars from her newest song Time Machine. Her message is consistent with our UCS message against bullying and she goes into schools all over the country sharing the “Be Kind” message. I just watched the episode and it was clear that she takes the Inclusion Revolution seriously.
As a side note, Edward and his crew are looking for ways to produce Making it Happen virtually during this time so that they can continue to spotlight all the wonderful people in their community.
Regarding fitness – during this time off from coaching and participating in SOWI competition, Edward is participating in the World’s Perfect Athlete competition in the special needs division. They are doing a virtual competition and Edward will be doing his rhythmic gymnastics routine from his apartment. Edward suggested that maybe we could put this opportunity online for other SOWI athletes.
Finally, all the AIC members have a written action plan for 2020. Edward’s objectives for 2020 are:
- Host an Athlete Health Leader and/or Athlete Health Messenger workshop
- Attend a Young Athlete training to become a coach
- Serve on a Polar Plunge committee
- Attend the SOWI Leadership Conference August 22-23, 2020
- Help with recognition for LETR members