SOWI Team Heads to D.C. for Capitol Hill Days

February 13, 2024 Blog, Events, Featured, Press

Special Olympics Wisconsin Athlete Annie Mulligan and Unified Partner Daisy Lang, along with SOWI President & CEO Chad Hershner and VP of Marketing & Communications Addie Teeters, represented SOWI in Washington, D.C. for Special Olympics’ annual Capitol Hill Day advocacy work.

Special Olympics athletes, serving as self-advocates, have been leading hundreds of face-to-face meetings with members of Congress in both the House and Senate, inviting their elected officials to partner with them in supporting inclusive education and health initiatives for people with intellectual disabilities (ID).

The team will meet with several of Wisconsin’s elected officials throughout the week in our nation’s capital, advocating for our own life-changing work.

Ask your elected officials to join them in supporting our work in health and education:

Monday, February 5

The SOWI team arrived at the airport with plenty of time to embark. We had breakfast, boarded, and napped.

Upon arrival we instantly met delegates from all around the nation. Athletes and Special Olympics staff traveled far and wide to participate in this important government relations effort.  During our trainings, we had opportunities to practice our athlete speeches, talking points about our statewide programs, and also reviewed the official “ask” we were making for funding in the areas of health and education.

Annie and Daisy practice microphone training at Capitol Hill Days.

Tuesday, February 6

Today was the big day! Yesterday’s trainings prepared us for four meetings today.

We first met with Senator Tammy Baldwin‘s office. At first, Annie was a little nervous talking to all the new faces, but she knocked it out of the park! By our next meetings with Congressman Mark Pocan‘s Legislative Director Erin Schell, Congressman Mike Gallagher, and Representative Tom Tiffany, Annie was pretty much a pro.

In a 1-on-1 meeting with Congressman Gallagher, Annie informed Congressman Gallagher how her life has changed due to her involvement with Special Olympics Wisconsin.

“My favorite part of the trip has been seeing the Capitol and when I gave Mike Gallagher a Special Olympics ‘Challenge Coin’ he let me help him put it in a special case,” Annie said.

Tomorrow, Annie, Daisy, and the team is back at it with another full day of telling their stories and advocating for the life-changing work of Special Olympics Wisconsin!

Annie, group stands in front of Wisconsin map  Annie, Group pose in front of Mark Pocan's office.

Trio of images with Annie speaking with Mike Gallagher

Group poses in front of Highway 8 sign.

Wednesday, February 7

Today we rounded out SOWI’s visits with elected officials. We began the day meeting with the offices of Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Senator Ron Johnson.

Representing our Unified partners at Badgers for Special Olympics through UW-Madison, Daisy Lang also educated both offices on the importance of inclusive sports, and how it has had a lasting impact on her future career in medicine.
Prior to departing, we took one last formal tour of our nation’s Capitol Building, which according to Annie this was the highlight of her trip!
“It’s such a great experience,” Annie said. “And it’s so good to support Special Olympics Wisconsin this way.”
In all, it was a very successful and memorable trip advocating for inclusion!

In addition to federal U.S. government funding, Special Olympics also receives funds from private foundations, corporations, and individuals to support these initiatives. Public and private support is critical for Special Olympics to offer education and health programming at no cost to participants.

“The global Special Olympics movement stems from athletes and youth leaders who continue to question the status quo, dismantle stereotypes, and lead the collective fight to end discrimination for people with intellectual disabilities,” said Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics. Shriver added, “The U.S. government’s support is an essential part of this collaborative effort, not only to help fund critical programming but also to signal the urgency that people with intellectual disabilities be fully integrated into our society.”

Learn more about the Special Olympics Wisconsin Inclusive Health and Unified Champion Schools programming and how you can get involved today.

Subscribe to Inspire!

Join our mailing list to receive regular updates!