A few thoughts from
Jon Flora, President & CEO
I’m writing this month leveled off at 35,000 feet on my way home from National Credit Congress. If you were there, especially for our exclusive kick-off party, thanks for coming. I hope you enjoyed the speakers and presentations.
Reading the inflight magazine, I noted that our member Alaska Airlines and several other NACM BCS members are sponsoring the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, July 1-6. It’s a BIG deal to have 4,000 Special Olympics athletes come to Seattle from across America.
Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to include more than 5.7 million athletes and unified partners from 172 countries. The organization, locally and globally, has given the disabled an opportunity to be active and competitive. For sure, these athletes are competitive!
As the parent of a daughter with special needs, I’ve had the opportunity over the last several years to see her and her classmates from Seattle’s Ingraham High School participate in our local Special Olympics activities. It is amazing to see what these young people do in a competitive environment. They want to win and work incredibly hard at it.
In my daughter’s case, she had been involved with therapeutic horseback riding through the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Redmond, WA. The chemistry that develops between a horse and its rider is remarkable. I was stunned the first time I saw my kid drive a half-ton animal! She and the horse understood one another. The consistent movement of the horse was instrumental in her overcoming some physical development issues. The experience has also taught her to focus on the responsibility of working with a horse.
These national Special Olympic Games in Seattle served as a catalyst for establishing a new equestrian competition in Washington. Although not part of the national games this time, the first statewide competition was held on June 30 th. I’m proud to say that my daughter was part of this program, aboard Nellie (as in, Whoaaa).
This is more than just blue ribbons and platitudes, though. The athletes’ drive to win and succeed carries over to the rest of their lives. Many Special Olympians enter the work place as committed, hard working employees. They are grateful for the opportunity to have a job, show up on time, and believe in the companies that hire them. The look in their eyes when they get their first paycheck is indescribable.
If you are in Seattle this coming week, I encourage you to head out to Husky Stadium on Sunday and see it for yourself. Then talk with your Human Resources staff about the possibility of your company hiring people with disabilities. In a time when it’s hard to find good employees, this workforce remains largely untapped and brings a wide variety of skills. Yes, you may have to do things a little differently to accommodate them but you will be rewarded with amazing productivity and genuine commitment. We can all learn a lesson of gratitude from them. You may also find your outlook on life to be changed for the positive.
Have a great Independence Day and, as always, thanks for being part of NACM Business Credit Services.