Special Olympics Virginia Advocates for Critical Funding on Capitol Hill

47 states including Special Olympics Virginia headed to Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 15, 2023 – Special Olympics athletes, organization leaders, Unified Sports® partners, and family members from across the United States and the District of Columbia converged on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on February 13th-15 th for Special Olympics’ annual “Capitol Hill Day.” This was the 21st year Special Olympics has organized the event, which included over 260 delegates representing 47 states and the District of Columbia.

Who did the Virginia delegation meet with?
  • Office of Senator Tim Kaine
  • Office of Representative Robert Scott
  • Office of Representative Morgan Griffith
  • Office of Representative Gerald Connolly
  • Office of Representative Jennifer Wexton
  • Office of Senator Mark Warner
  • Representative Don Beyer

Special Olympics athletes led more than 250 face-to-face meetings with Members of Congress in both the House and Senate, inviting their elected officials to partner with them to support inclusive education and health initiatives for people with intellectual disabilities (ID). Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® programming is in over 8,300 schools across the United States, with a goal of being in 10,000 schools by 2024. Special Olympics is out to erase health disparities for people with ID. Through free health screenings and training current and future healthcare providers, Special Olympics is ensuring that people with intellectual disabilities get follow-up care when and where they need it.

See all the photos: Photos

Special Olympics athletes, serving as self-advocates, educated lawmakers and their staff about the stigma faced by people with ID, and how high-impact and cost-effective Special Olympics programming in sports, health, and education can reduce discrimination. The advocates also requested continued support from legislators for evidence-based programming that benefits all Americans, regardless of ability.

Our athletes’ voices are what matter most to Special Olympics Virginia. Those voices—and those athletes—led our team to meet with Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Together, they conveyed the impact of Special Olympics’ inclusive education and health initiatives for those with intellectual disabilities, and the critical need for federal investment in our Healthy Athletes and Unified Champion Schools programs—both of which have a proven record of greatly minimizing health disparities for those with ID, reducing discrimination and bullying in schools, and benefiting all of us—those with and without disabilities. Capitol Hill Day is an unparalleled self-advocacy opportunity for our athletes and leaders, as it allows direct, candid dialogue with those who can most directly influence U.S. government funding for the life-changing work that Special Olympics Virginia does.
David Thomason, President of Special Olympics Virginia

Representing Virginia on Capitol Hill was:

Aaron Feinberg is a Special Olympics Virginia athlete from Marshall High School. Aaron is also a former member of the Youth Leadership Council.

Tatum Scarborough is a Unified Partner from Marshall High School. Tatum is also a former member of the Youth Leadership Council.

Jamie Spiering has competed as a Special Olympics Virginia athlete for more than 15 years in Loudoun County.

Joy Cavagnaro is the Special Olympics Virginia Board Chair, and has years of experience as a mentor, leader and coach.

David Thomason has 36 years of experience and has been advocating for Special Olympics on Capitol Hill since its inception.

Veronica Jennings is a Senior Director with Special Olympics Virginia and oversees the Potomac region.