Redwood City, CA – Special Olympics is hosting its first-ever social fundraising collaboration with GoFundMe. As part of the effort, nearly 500 GoFundMes have been created by teams, coaches, Olympians and other top professional athletes, YouTube stars and influencers, including pro snowboarders Hannah Teter and Danny Davis.
“We are proud to partner with Special Olympics to help support these remarkable athletes and their communities,” said Rob Solomon, GoFundMe CEO. “GoFundMe’s mission is to empower people to help people, and Special Olympics has been helping to empower people with intellectual disabilities for almost 50 years. It’s an honor to share the stories of these competitors who have overcome obstacles.”
Over 2,700 athletes from over 100 countries will compete in nine sports at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria next month. Special Olympics is more than a sports organization—it highlights inclusion and community, where every individual is accepted. For many competitors, it’s a life-changing experience. The GoFundMes created for these athletes will not only share each of their personal stories, but help them on their journey to the Games with expenses related to travel, training, equipment, coaching, and accommodations.
“We are excited to collaborate with GoFundMe to help further drive support for our incredible athletes and tell their personal stories of achievement, bravery and inspiration as they prepare for the World Games“ said Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics.
U.S. Snowboarding’s Teter and Davis have created a GoFundMe for Daina Shilts, a 25-year-old snowboarder whom Teter met four years ago at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea, where Shilts won gold. “Growing up, bullies made her feel her disability was way worse than it really was. She almost gave up, feeling that she shouldn’t even try because no one would ever accept her for her,” Teter says. “Then she found a sense of freedom, an escape. She found snowboarding, and the Special Olympics found her and her whole world changed.”
“Before I was at the World Games I was very quiet and shy and didn’t like showing people how good I was at snowboarding,” Shilts says. “After my experiences at the World Games, when I got gold, my confidence was boosted more than it ever has been in my life, knowing how hard I worked to get there, and was able to accomplish. It was a confidence and self-esteem booster. I felt like I had more confidence in my life about my disability and who I was. I came back more social and wanted to actually talk to people about myself and about my love for snowboarding.”
The Special Olympics World Winter Games will take place March 14 through March 25 in Graz, Schladming, Rohrmoos and Ramsau, Austria. Many of the Special Olympics ambassadors and influencers will be attending the Games to cheer on these amazing athletes from the stands. Additionally, eight Olympic athletes, including skier Julia Mancuso and speed skater Apolo Ohno, shared messages of encouragement to Special Olympic athletes in a video embodying Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy’s message of hope and victory.
To donate and learn more about their stories, and view all Special Olympic GoFundMes, visit gofundme.com/specialolympics.