This is a programmatic experience that we encourage students and faculty to embrace. It highlights the joys of ALL ABILITIES and allows us to share the importance of INCLUSION.

This will be the third year that Special Olympics Iowa has celebrated #RespectWeek. Students and school staff statewide have continually expressed an overwhelmingly positive response each year!

This year, 90 Unified Champion Schools will be participating in #RespectWeek. These schools range from all geographic locations of the state and include elementary, middle, high and college levels! In addition, many of our statewide sponsors are going to be participating in the festivities of #RespectWeek!

Whether you use social media platforms or another promotional source, please know that we look forward to seeing photos and hearing your stories about the many creative ways that your school will join us in the #RespectWeek celebrations! Please use the hashtag #RespectWeek to show the world what your community is doing and to help everyone understand the importance of Inclusion.

#RespectWeek runs March 1 through March 5!

Tell us what inclusion means to you!

Virtual Opportunities!

We are offering multiple virtual program opportunities for students of all education levels and educators.  You may register yourself and your students by clicking on the following links.

Elementary Inclusion Hour (March 2 @ 10:00 a.m.)
Join guest speaker Lily D. Moore, Special Olympics Champion Ambassador, in conversation about not letting a disability stand in your way. Students and educators from elementary and intermediate schools are encouraged to participate.

SO College Inclusion Hour (March 2 @ 1:00 p.m.)
Participants will engage in a breakout session, discussing meaningful inclusion and strategies to bring it to their campus. College students and graduating High School seniors are encouraged to participate.

Educators Inclusion Hour (March 3  @ 3:30 p.m.)
Join special guest speaker Molly McCloskey, Executive Director of Strategic Questions Consulting, LLC. Molly will lead in-depth conversations about the importance of inclusion in K-12 educational environments.

Middle and High School Inclusion Hour (March 4 @ 1:00 p.m.)
Join special guest speaker Loretta Claiborne, Chief Inspiration Officer of Special Olympics North America to engage students in conversations about the importance of inclusion.

Loretta Clairborne
Special Olympics athlete Loretta Claiborne is the Chief Inspiration Officer for Special Olympics.  She is a world-class competitor and one of the most inspirational and remarkable women of our time.  For Loretta Claiborne, Special Olympics revealed the champion within — even after many years of having her talents and abilities denied and ignored by others. Growing up in York, Pennsylvania, Loretta did not talk or walk until the age of 4. Despite doctors’ advice, Loretta’s mother refused to put her child, who is also partially blind, in an institution. Loretta was the middle child of seven siblings born to a single mother, growing up with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The odds were stacked against her. She was also bullied so much at school by her peers, her only outward recourse was to use her fists to try and fight back, or sometimes use her feet to simply run away.  When Loretta found Special Olympics in 1970, her energy and her gifts found an outlet.Her anger was channeled to excelling as a world-class runner and becoming an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities.  Today, Loretta is one of the most accomplished and celebrated of all Special Olympics athletes.  She has competed in more than 26 marathons, finishing with the fastest 25 women runners in the Pittsburgh Marathon and twice in the Boston Marathon.  She won gold medals in the 1991 and 1999 Special Olympics World Games half-marathon.  Loretta holds honorary doctorates from Villanova University and Quinnipiac College, speaks five languages, has a black belt in karate, was the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and sits on the Special Olympics International Board of Directors. Loretta continues to change the way the world views people with intellectual disabilities (ID).  Before it was publicly acceptable to advocate for people with ID, she courageously championed them and spoke out, bringing light to the horrible injustice that this population faces all over the world.
Molly McCloskey
Molly McCloskey, founder and executive director of Strategic Questions Consulting, has worked in every level of education from early childhood through graduate school and in non-profit leadership from association management to public-private coalition building. With extensive experience in leading institutional change and whole child education initiatives, Ms. McCloskey’s work is rooted in equity, inclusion and sustainable improvement. Her clients include national organizations seeking to build shared accountability and strengths-based capacity among their staff, coalitions of diverse public service organizations focused on board development and education institutions building a shared vision across multiple constituencies. Prior to founding her own consulting company, Ms. McCloskey served as CEO of a non-profit which led anti-bullying efforts in the United States, Palestine, Japan, Ukraine, and Israel; as co-chair of Governor Martin O’Malley’s (MD) Campaign to End Childhood Hunger; and as Managing Director of the Whole Child Initiative, a multi-national education reform effort for ASCD. She has written and been interviewed about hunger, poverty, school reform, and whole child education in the Baltimore Sun, Miami Herald, USA Today, Edutopia and the Chicago Tribune. Her specialties include anti-bias and equity efforts in schools and other organizations, school/organizational climate and culture, cultural competence, social and emotional learning, a whole-child approach to education, and evidence-based planning for sustainable change. Ms. McCloskey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from The Catholic University of America, a Master of Education degree in school counseling from the University of Maryland (College Park.)
Lily D. Moore
Lily D. Moore is a Special Olympics Champion Ambassador.  In some ways, I guess you could call her your all-around “average” teenager. She enjoys cooking, swimming, singing, cheerleading, and playing with hair & makeup. She loves drama club and her pets: Charlie (dog), Lester (cat), and Hazel (cat). In other ways, she is not average… at all! Lily D Moore was born with Down Syndrome. But don’t worry—her disability doesn’t stand in her way. She is a professional actress and model who has starred in films, television episodes and national commercials. She has posed for photographers on both coasts of the United States. She started an initiative for the homeless population called “H.E.L.P.—Helping Everyone with Love and Passion” H.E.L.P. makes bags of food and toiletries available to the homeless. She believes that everyone is, Unique, Beautiful, and Brave!
Miranda Noack
Prior to joining Special Olympics, I was a leader of a club on campus advocating for people with disabilities. After talking with Lexxi at a Special Olympics event on campus, we learned about Unified Clubs and saw an opportunity to partner our existing club with the Unified Model. We worked closely with the intramural department and their Unified Sports while also promoting a social club to develop friendships around sports activities.
Kaitlee Francisco
My name is Kaitlee Francisco and my SOUCS journey started in 2015 when I was a freshman at Rowan University as a partner within the Unified Sports IMs and SO College Club. I eventually served as Co-President of the organization leading it to be named ESPN’s Top 5 National Banner Champion Schools in 2018. I turned my college passion into a career in May 2019 serving as the University Growth Fellow with UCS and recently transitioned into a Technical Assistance role. Special Olympics has helped me grow both personally and professionally and continues to show me that inclusion is a lifestyle. I am always excited at the opportunity to collaborate with others around these ideas and concepts!
Shannon Tumelty
Currently, I am working as the Assistant Director of Sport Programs at the University of Iowa. As part of my role, I oversee our Unified Sports programs and have had the pleasure of working with Special Olympics of Iowa since I started three years ago. Before that, I worked at Duke University where I was first exposed to Unified Sports programming. In April 2019, I was also able to help coach a Unified Basketball team who traveled to Wichita, KS to compete in the NIRSA Basketball Championship. I look forward to what is to come for Special Olympics and Unified Sports at the University of Iowa as well as across the nation at all levels!
Elizabeth Gillmore
I serve as an Assistant Director in the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement at Iowa State University.  For the past five years I have worked with Special Olympics Iowa during Greek Week to help student leaders plan athlete dinners and Polar Bear Plunges.  Two years ago, Greek Week incorporated Unified Events to increase athlete engagement for Greek Week.  Over the past four years sorority and fraternity students for the Polar Bear Plunges have raised over one million dollars for Special Olympics Iowa.  It has been wonderful to see the commitment and drive of Iowa State University sorority and fraternity students have in supporting Special Olympics athletes.

Download the inclusion logo here!


If you have questions about #RespectWeek, contact: Bryan Coffey, Director of Unified Programs 515-986-5520 x119.