Mother-Daughter Team are Champions for Special Olympics

BlogHer Original Post

Meet Molly Hincka, a 20 year old Special Olympics athlete, and her mother Kerry. Although Molly has faced many obstacles in her life, Kerry chose to see the possibilities beyond them. The mother-daughter team star in a national Proctor & Gamble campaign called "Thank You, Mom," designed to bring attention to Special Olympics athletes and the moms who support them.

"Our goal is to tell as many people about Special Olympics as we can and tell them about how fabulous it is," Kerry Hincka said. "Having a huge corporation like P&G taking a strong position with the athletes is just fantastic."

Among Molly's many accomplishments, she has qualified for the Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece, this summer, where she will compete in the 5,000 meters, 3,000 meters and 4 x 400 relay for Team USA.

"I never saw the things my child couldn't do. I only imagined what she could," Kerry says in the video spot.

On a recent call to talk about the Special Olympics, Kerry and Molly were joined by Tim Shriver who is following in the footsteps of his mom, Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver. The new head of the organization explained that "Everybody needs a fan. Everybody needs someone to believe in them. And usually that first fan is a mom who sees something valuable."

Molly’s role as a global leader is testament to the fact that everyone counts and something to share. By traveling to Athens for this year's Special Olympics, she and all the other athletes are claiming the Olympic legacy. They're making the point that the Special Olympics, like the "real" Olympics, are about human courage and spirit. None of the participants are looking for pity or sweetness; just the opposite. They're looking to show the world they're heroically gifted individuals making a difference.

In introducing herself, Kerry said she has "the great privilege of being Molly’s Mom" The pride in her voice was apparent as is her unwavering support of Molly's athletic endeavors. The two run about six miles a day and are a fixture in their Michigan neighborhood.

Molly was born with an intellectual disability and wore leg braces as a child. Doctors predicted she might never walk, yet at her high school, she ran cross-country and track and field all four years, earning a varsity letter and serving as a team captain her senior year.

"Her freshman year she finished last every race but just kept on going," Kerry said. "The team rallied around her and I think she was an inspiration for the girls."

Molly began participating in Special Olympics at age 8, and since then the whole family has gotten involved. Kerry, who works part-time at the local Library, coaches Special Olympics swimming while her husband, Jerry, coaches Special Olympics basketball. Special Olympics is a wonderful opportunity to compete in athletic events, and raise their own level of personal health and fitness.

Asked what got her started running, Molly responded "I have long legs," to which she followed up with "and it makes me feel good everyday."

With 40% of Special Olympians women (and organizers hoping to raise that number to 50%) it's clear that sport can be used as a vehicle for empowering women. It teaches them to respect their bodies, be strong and live a healthy lifestyle. Equally important, it teaches women they can be champions.

"I’m very excited" Molly said wrapping up the call "and I'm going to win a medal!”

The Special Olympics 2011 World Summer Games will take place in Athens, Greece, from June 25 – July 4. For the 316 Team USA athletes who will travel to Athens, it’s an opportunity to compete amongst more than 7,000 athletes from around the world. But in the eyes of their moms, it’s an opportunity for their children to experience a new level of empowerment.

Good luck this summer to all the Olympians and their families.

To support the movement and all the athletes, be sure to watch the online spot featuring Molly and Kerry. For every "like," share, or comment on its 'Thank You, Mom' Facebook page, P&G will donate $1 to Special Olympics Team USA, up to $250,000. Click here to participate.

@jschonb

dare to dream

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