Local corporate leaders have stepped up sponsorship measures in an effort to help the event reach its fundraising goal of $16 million.

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A city shows its true colors when an event as enormous as the Special Olympics USA Games comes to town. Many of Seattle’s corporate leaders have gone the extra yard in their sponsorship measures to create a region that welcomes everyone and help the event reach its fundraising goal of $16 million.

As of June 6, the event has more than 60 sponsors, with companies such as Lyft, Nordstrom and Disney joining Premier Partner Microsoft and such familiar regional names as Amazon, Kaiser Permanente and Brooks Sports to make the Games a success.

“With less than a month to go until the Opening Ceremony, these new corporate partners are helping us reach our fundraising goal while engaging their employees in a meaningful way,” Beth Knox, president and CEO of 2018 Special Olympics USA, said at a June 6 press conference.

The $16 million covers all travel and expenses for the athletes, and also ensures free admission to the events for spectators.

Premier Partner Microsoft is putting the principles of inclusion into practice, dispatching an army of volunteers to work more than 2,300 shifts during the week of events, in roles ranging from technical support staff and airport greeters to shuttling athletes and their families in a fleet of vehicles wrapped in Special Olympics branding.

Behind the scenes, Microsoft worked with Special Olympics on a digital transformation effort that provides real-time results reporting and officially tracks athletes’ personal bests.

Microsoft will also roll out a promotional television campaign in the coming weeks emphasizing the legacy of inclusion shared by Puget Sound and Special Olympics USA Games.

(Special Olympics USA Games)
(Special Olympics USA Games)

Another volunteer brigade that will saturate the event comes from Seattle’s hometown titan Amazon.  They will do everything from cleaning up grounds and giving away bananas to handing out 8,000 athlete lunches prepared by FareStart, and adding high-quality headphones to the athletes’ swag bags.

Amazon employees will exclusively staff the free Closing Ceremony on July 6 at Lake Union Park, where they will also hand out unique commemorative pins from the Treasure Truck.

Spectators at the Games will see physicians and volunteers with Seattle-headquartered Kaiser Permanente coordinating and leading the sideline care at all events, as well as leading and organizing the Healthy Athletes program for all participating athletes.

The Chief Medical Officer for the USA Games, Dr. Jessie Fudge, is a Kaiser Permanente sports medicine physician who has spent months with her team reviewing medical protocol, ordering supplies, recruiting volunteers and training physicians and providers, says Sally Mildren, a senior marketing director with Kaiser Permanente.

Brooks Sports, headquartered on North 34th Street in Seattle, is providing thousands of free pairs of Brooks running shoes to athletes participating in the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Fit Feet program. Special Olympics Fit Feet offers athletes free podiatric screenings to evaluate ankles, feet and lower extremity biomechanics.

(Special Olympics USA Games)
(Special Olympics USA Games)

Brooks is also lending the support of 300 Brooks employees, partners and local running enthusiasts as volunteers at the 2018 USA Games.

You can make a difference, too. Here are five ingenious and fun ways for individuals to catch Special Olympics fever and support the event:

  • You can attend the Opening Ceremony July 1 at Husky Stadium, which will feature a parade of more than 4,000 athletes in an epic gala celebrating the spirit of inclusion. The ceremony will be loaded with Seattle-centric touches, such as performances by Ann Wilson of Heart, as well as a 2,018-member chorus that’s touted as the largest choral group in Washington.
  • T-Mobile wireless users can donate $10 to the USA Games by texting “USAGames” to 20222. The charge will appear on their next carrier bill. (Message and data rates may apply.)
  • If you order a featured dish in one of a growing list of participating restaurants participating in the “Choose to Include” campaign, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Special Olympics USA Games. The campaign was sponsored­­­­ this month by Amazon in partnership with the South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce, the South Lake Union Community Council and the Denny Triangle Neighborhood Association.
  • You can buy a pair of Ghost 10 running shoes or other limited-edition gear from Brooks Sports. Each pair of Ghost 10 shoes, trimmed in green and purple, sports the Special Olympics USA Games logo on the heel and tongue, and in the sock liner. They cost $120, with $10 from every Ghost 10 and $5 from every apparel or accessory purchase through July 31 donated directly to the USA Games.
  • If you own an Amazon Echo or other Alexa-enabled device, you can simply say, “Alexa, make a donation to the Special Olympics USA Games.” She will take it from there.

Let the games begin!

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will showcase the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities, promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport, and celebrate the transformative power of Special Olympics.