Vanessa Williams Shows Her Support for the Special Olympics
Advocacy The multitalented entertainer has had a personal hand in growing the Special Olympics for more than 20 years now.
In July 2015, Special Olympics Global Ambassador Vanessa Williams married businessman Jim Skrip, in a ceremony inspired by Egypt, the country where the couple met. Just a few weeks later, the Oscar-winning singer of "Colors of the Wind" cheered more than 6,500 athletes from around the globe at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. The combination of these two impactful events created a special moment for her.
"My favorite time at the recent Summer Games which marching into the Los Angeles Coliseum with the Egyptian athletes after just hosting an Egyptian-themed wedding," Williams said.
The singer, actress and former Miss America became involved with the Special Olympics in 1992 after singing on the "A Very Special Christmas 2" album, and currently serves on the board of directors, so she understands the important role the organization plays in the live performance of athletes.
"Conquer your fear. To compete on the major global level is fantastic, so keep being fearless and being brave. "
"The idea of Incorporating sports and people with intellectual disabilities allows each athlete to have a sense of inclusion, to be encouraged and have success in a community where achievement is available and consistent," says Williams.
Support in numbers
That sense of community is vital to the well-being of people with intellectual disabilities. While physical activity is important for everyone, according to the World Health Organization it is even more important for people with disabilities, as many deal with physical limitations.
The United Nations notes that sports participation is especially helpful for women with disabilities, too. "By providing women with disabilities the opportunity to compete and demonstrate their physical ability, sport can help to reduce gender stereotypes and negative perceptions associated with women with disabilities," according to the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
"It's the bridge from acceptance and inclusion using sport," Williams adds. "That's what we all need as human beings and it could not be any clearer."
For thousands of athletes at the LA Games, the research was secondary. Some had flown on an airplane for the first time to make the long journey to Los Angeles.
In a message to athletes competing in the games, Williams congratulated them on their accomplishments and encouraged them to "Conquer your fear," she said. "To compete on the major global level is fantastic, so keep being fearless and being brave."