NYT: Martin Sheets, Who Shone at the Special Olympics, Dies at 62

Martin Sheets, who became a face of the Special Olympics, winning more than 250 medals competing for more than 40 years in its events for people with intellectual disabilities, died on Thursday in Greensboro, N.C. He was 62.

He had dementia, his family said.

Mr. Sheets, born with Down syndrome, competed in golf, swimming, Alpine skiing, tennis and powerlifting at the Special Olympics, his participation in the movement going back to its first international summer games, at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 1968.

He became ill after arriving there and was unable to compete, but at a banquet concluding the event, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics, having learned of his disappointment, walked over to his table.

“I understand you trained to come to the games but you got sick,” she said. “Well, Marty, for your guts and your effort, I want you to have a gold medal, too. Here you go. Marty Sheets, the winner of the special gold medal for bravery.”

She draped it around his neck. Continue reading NYT: Martin Sheets, Who Shone at the Special Olympics, Dies at 62

Parent Tips: Competing in the Autism Olympics

By Shelly McLaughlin, Director of Communications, Pathfinders for Autism

Marathon movie watching
Today’s technology has really enhanced this sport. Long gone are the days when you had to visit a video store and then return your movie – REWOUND – within a certain time period. Or harken back to the Stone Age, back when you had to wait for a movie to come to theaters, and once it was gone, it was GONE FOREVER. Now, you can download your favorite movie of the moment to your mobile device and carry it with you 24/7. My son is on his 83rd consecutive hour of “Weird Science.”

Directionless fast walking
This activity requires more cardio stamina than previously credited. This pacing-related movement also necessitates a great deal of mental endurance as I believe that it is during this time that solutions to the world’s problems and life-altering inventions are being formulated.

LEGO® building
Seriously, how is this NOT an Olympic event??? It calls for the precision of biathlon shooting, the creativity of slopestyle, the beauty of ice dancing, and the swiftness of speed skating. Lego building also includes the risk of serious injury like downhill skiing from stepping on a LEGO® brick.  Continue reading Parent Tips: Competing in the Autism Olympics

Governor O’Malley Forms Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Development Disabilities

ANNAPOLIS, MD  – Governor Martin O’Malley today issued an Executive Order to improve training to help law enforcement personnel, paramedics, and other first responders better respond to situations involving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (“IDD”). The Executive Order creates the Maryland Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (the “Commission”). Governor O’Malley also announced that he would name Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics, as Chairman of the Commission.

Governor O’Malley created the Commission in part as a response to the circumstances surrounding the death of Frederick County resident Ethan Saylor, who happened to have Down syndrome. Dr. Shriver, a Maryland resident, has been designated the Chairman of this commission based on his deep experience in working in communities to build understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with IDD. Continue reading Governor O’Malley Forms Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Development Disabilities