What I would say

A couple weeks ago I was on a Zoom call with Special Olympics representatives from around the world. The purpose of the call was to pay tribute to our Founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Everyone who was invited to speak told powerful stories of Mrs. Shriver’s influence on their lives. Their stories inspired me to think about three people who have had the greatest influence on my life. It was meaningful to think about each one of them, and I encourage you to do the same.

Many people shared stories about Mrs. Shriver during the Zoom call. One woman was Renee Dease, an older African American woman whose words were filled with the kind of warmth and wisdom that can only come by having gone through life. She shared that she had “felt the whirlwind of Mrs. Shriver for more than forty years.” Ms. Dease gave Mrs. Shriver credit for helping her, encouraging her, and inspiring her. Her words honoring Mrs. Shriver were spoken so beautifully, I have chosen to share some of them with you.

“What I would like to say to Mrs. Shriver today is the same as I said yesterday. Mrs. Shriver, for you I have created many memories of strength, love, pride, and inspiration. When I have questions to ask myself today, I reflect on advice you have given. You have set a remarkable life-long legacy of what I am to do in my career at Special Olympics, which represents the brightest future for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.”

Just like Renee Dease, what I would say to Mrs. Shriver today is also the same as I would have said yesterday:

Mrs. Shriver, thank you for bringing the joy of sport to those who may never ever have been invited to play. Special Olympics is what it is because Special Olympics athletes are who they are, and you understood the value they bring to our world. I absolutely love being a part of what this movement is and what it does, and just like you, I thank God for having invited me to join Him in this amazing work.

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Kindness Continued

In the words of Jennifer Riordan, “Please remember to always be Kind, Loving, Caring and Sharing.” These words were Jenn’s lifelong motto and also are foundational words for The Jennifer Riordan Foundation. The Jennifer Riordan Foundation was formed in 2018 to honor Jenn’s life and to continue her legacy after she passed away tragically in April 2018.

By title, Jennifer was the Vice President of Community Relations for Wells Fargo Bank.  By her actions, she was Albuquerque’s 43 year old Super Woman without the cape.  Jenn was everywhere–helping her community in ways that mattered–all of the time.  She deeply loved her family, was very good at her job, and was absolutely passionate about supporting her community through kindness and philanthropy.

To continue the legacy that Jenn left in our community, The Jennifer Riordan Foundation is asking each of us act out of kindness, and to document the acts of kindness.  The goal is to create and document 1 million acts of kindness by December 18, 2021.  The goal is huge, and so far more than 650,000 acts of kindness have already been recorded.  Kindness shown by employees and received by employees, kind acts seen in public, kindness shown at school, at home, on the streets, or in stores: acts of kindness everywhere.

Special Olympics athletes, families, and volunteers are some of the kindest people that I know. Since Jenn was a valued member of our Special Olympics New Mexico family for years, I am asking each of you in the Special Olympics community to do something kind, and then let me know about your act of kindness so I can document it.  You can email me, text me, call me, or write me a letter, and I will post your act of kindness on the Spark Kindness app.  If you’re able to send me a photo, I’ll post the photo to the app as well.  Let’s work together to be kind and to reach a total of 1 million acts of kindness this year!

There are so many small acts of kindness that can truly make an impact. Hold a door, roll out the neighbor’s trash can, feed someone who needs a meal, pay for a stranger’s coffee, send a card to an old friend, feed a stray cat, bake cookies for your co-workers, leave a nice note for your loved ones, say a prayer for someone who needs a little love–the options are endless. Do something kind with Jenn in mind and help carry on her legacy of kindness.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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The Flame

There is a bible verse that says “Guard what has been entrusted to your care.” Since its inception forty years ago, Law Enforcement Torch Run law enforcement officers nationwide have been entrusted to carry the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope” Torch, which symbolizes courage, celebration, and hope. Hope for acceptance, hope for inclusion, hope for each Special Olympics athlete and family.

This year, over 500 public safety officers representing 70 agencies carried our Torch during the annual New Mexico Law Enforcement Torch Run State Relay Run. For over 1600 miles in sweltering temperatures, they raised dollars and awareness for Special Olympics New Mexico. It’s hard to explain the richness of it, but there is something unique that happens when officers and athletes meet face-to-face. There is a bond that is formed, as Special Olympics athletes offer kindness and friendship to find in return that which is best illustrated by the New Mexico Law Enforcement Torch Run Oath, written years ago by retired Alamogordo Police Department Sgt. Doyle Syling.

“As a Law Enforcement Torch Runner, I commit my talents, energy, love, and compassion to the athletes and families of Special Olympics New Mexico. I will protect, defend, and befriend all those who seek the joy of Special Olympics sport, and I will always be a GUARDIAN of the Flame of Hope.”

When we choose to guard anything, we are thoughtfully safeguarding it, so that it lasts. Special Olympics New Mexico is deeply grateful to the Guardians of our Flame, not only for what they have accomplished on our behalf, but what they continue to do so that Hope remains.

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Way More

This morning when I got to work, I had documents and letters to sign, all which required not only my signature, but my title: Randy Mascorella, Executive Director. Although I have been signing my name and title on behalf of Special Olympics New Mexico for 29 years, signing today caused me to pause and reflect. I’m not retiring yet, so this isn’t a prelude to my farewell. Here are my thoughts.

Whether it’s been 29 years or 29 days–the opportunity to put any Special Olympics title next to your name, any Special Olympics logo on your shirt, in any way you have been involved–Special Olympics has likely blessed your life more than you could imagine. You will have more opportunities, more connections, more revelations, more friends, and more meaningful moments because of Special Olympics.

Perhaps today you can take time to pause and reflect on how the Special Olympics movement has impacted your life. When you stop to think about Special Olympics–putting names to the faces, places, and experiences you’ve had–you too will agree that it’s way more than you would have ever imagined.

With that thought in mind, I gratefully remain:

Randy Mascorella, Executive Director of Special Olympics New Mexico

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GAME ON

And so it begins! Small numbers… Here and there… In-person training with new protocols to follow–but FINALLY–we return to play. It has been a very long time since the athletes and families of Special Olympics New Mexico have gathered in force. It is my guess it will take us longer to fully get back, but the wonderful news is that along with the other sports organizations in our state, we are going to start training and competing together again. Here are my thoughts about that.

First and foremost, the safety of our athletes will remain the priority. We all must be diligent in doing exactly what our Return to Play protocols call for.

For those not ready to train in person, Special Olympics New Mexico will continue to offer virtual sports training, fitness programs, and competition, so that all athletes can stay engaged and training from home if they choose to do so.

Regarding in-person competitions, our current plan is to host a version of the Four Corners Invitational in Farmington in late August. It’s too early to tell what sports we will offer, but in case we are not able to meet in Farmington, we will host smaller competitions around the state.

Special Olympics athletes: Now is the time to work on your fitness so that when you do compete again your body is physically ready. GAME ON!!!

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