"My prognosis was that I wouldn't be able to talk or walk. Spoiler alert: I can walk and talk!" Danielle Liebl, Special Olympics ambassador and associate at Reed Smith LLP, shared her incredible story on the main stage at our global internal go-to-market kickoff conference in February. She spoke of the strength and confidence that Special Olympics helped her build and the amazing accomplishments she's had as a result - starting a nonprofit, advocating for inclusion, competing as an athlete, being invited to the White House and meeting Obama, going to law school, and more.
We then heard from Special Olympics Northern California's CEO, David Solo, about their work in schools and in promoting the health of their athletes before the entire group of 900+ attendees cited the athlete's oath which says, "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
Through Box.org, we seek to weave social impact into all aspects of Box, including big events. Our goal was to educate Boxers on the work of Special Olympics and provide a way for our employees to engage with the organization and mission. Following the inspirational kickoff, Boxers broke off into 7 different on-site activations. Earlier in planning the event, we learned that over 60 Boxers had been impacted by the Special Olympics in the past as coaches, family members, volunteers, and more, so we asked 8 of them to help co-lead the sessions:
- Floor Hockey: the first activation was Floor Hockey, where Boxers learned drills and skills from current athletes and coaches. Boxers elevated their heart rates in a few different team based drills while interacting with local athletes who participate in floor hockey and other sports. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know the athletes that Special Olympics serves every day.
- Strong Minds: another important program runs through the Special Olympics Strong Minds program where athletes learn techniques to establish strong mental health practices. Boxers learned more about this program and it's important work with the athletes and had the opportunity to learn Qigong, one of the many practices that the program teaches to cope and manage stressful situations.
- Polar Plunge: the Polar Plunge is a big fundraiser and awareness generator for Special Olympics around the globe, so we asked Boxers to switch their hats from selling enterprise software to recruiting participants for the upcoming events. Boxers ran around San Jose letting local businesses driving awareness about the Special Olympics and letting them know about the upcoming event. It was a great way to stretch their legs, get to know the community, and drive attendance for this important event!
- Inclusion Revolution: Boxers learned how they can be advocates in the Inclusion Revolution from Colin, a local Special Olympics athlete, and his father who shared tangible ways for people to take action. Disability inclusion hit the main stage at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos with a major push across the business sector to put disability inclusion on their board agenda and take action on some aspect of it it in 2019.
- Hacks: we love to hack things in the tech community, so Special Olympics helped us identify two areas that we could spend the time brainstorming around ways to make processes smoother and more efficient for their programs. The first hack focused around the Healthy Athletes program to create a better workflow for referral networks to follow up with athletes after their initial health screenings. The second hack had two parts to it: make athlete applications easier to access and streamline competition entries. In both hacks, Boxers collaborated in smaller groups to brainstorm and propose solutions for their focus areas. We captured all 20+ outputs in a shared Box folder for Special Olympics to digest and utilize.
- Motivation Station: the final activation was the Motivation Station. Boxers put on their creative hats to create motivational posters to hang up in schools to encourage students in the 600+ Northern California schools to show support for an upcoming Unified Sports events where individuals with and without intellectual disabilities compete on teams together.
Finally, in addition to providing a way for employees to take action immediately and in their local regions when they returned home, we ran a fundraiser with a $10K match from Box.org and Box executives. Over 100 participants have already donated! We are proud to be part of the Inclusion Revolution and know that more Boxers are equipped and inspired to do so as well.
Since the close of the event, personal stories and connections have continued to pour out from Boxers who were touched and inspired by the work of Special Olympics. Our Chicago sales team was especially moved by the Special Olympics role in our meeting and are already assembling a polar plunge team for later this spring. It’s always exciting when large group activations inspire ongoing engagement and partnering.
To learn more about the work of Special Olympics Northern California, we ask that you visit their site. If you're in any other region around the globe, we encourage you to take action with your local Special Olympics chapter and can find out more information here.
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