Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs)
ALPs give athletes opportunities above and beyond competition, becoming committee members, coaches, spokespersons and more.
ALPs give individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to stand up and let their voices be heard, as well as teach them the leadership skills to help shape the direction and movement of Special Olympics. These programs put athletes in an environment where people listen to them and value them as individuals.
Special Olympics Texas encourages athletes to choose the type of leadership opportunities that they are most interested in pursuing. Training classes are offered to help the athlete learn the skills that are needed to be successful in the role they will fill. Special Olympics Texas also helps train volunteers, coaches, committee members, and others to work with athletes in a way that values athlete participation.
Athletes participate as active members of our Board of Directors and other state and local committees. The athletes are given instruction and practice in forming and articulating opinions, provided opportunity for group discussion, and taught techniques for gathering input from other athletes.
Athletes have the opportunity to share ideas and opinions with other athletes at both the state and local level. Input Councils give athletes a chance to discuss important issues with other athletes, provide a format for athletes on committees to gather input on varying topics, and allow athletes to share information from their committees.
This program provides athletes with readiness training and assists them in meeting certification requirements to become coaches or officials for Special Olympics and other community sports organizations.
This program encourages athletes to become involved with Special Olympics Texas as volunteers. This type of leadership experience empowers athletes to fully participate in the events. These athletes learn new skills and serve as role models for other athletes in their community.
This program prepares athletes to become official public speakers for Special Olympics. They recruit athletes, volunteers and sponsors. The purpose of this program is to allow the athletes to share their skills, experiences, opportunities and enthusiasm with others, and work to increase participation in all programs.
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To ensure the athletes’ voices are heard involving their needs in training, sports
competitions, and overall leadership programs offered through SOTX.
Inclusion for all to make the world a better place for the next 50 years and beyond.
Hello, my name is Shaun Linsey. Since 2011, I have participated in golf, kayaking, sailing, tennis, basketball, volleyball, track and field, bowling, softball, and cheerleading. Although I really enjoy partaking all sports and meeting new friends at the competitions, my favorite sport is golf because it gives me the opportunity to play and share memories with my dad, my unified partner. I have attended the 2018 USA Games as part of the Team Texas Golf Delegation as well as participated in the 2015, 2016, and 2017 North America Golf Championship for Special Olympics.
I have also become involved in the leadership aspect of Special Olympics by attending the 2017 Special Olympics Hill Day in Austin. I was a member of the former President's Advisory Council. Currently, I am a member of the Athlete Leadership Committee of the Greater Houston Area and was its former President. In addition, I am a member of the East Regional Resource Board and the President of the Executive Committee of Athlete Leadership Council of Texas.
At the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, I received the honor of the Best Guest Services Attendant Award. I have been interviewed by Daniel Gotera and Jason Bristol of CBS 11 as a SOTX golfer and by Isiah Carey of FOX 26 as a Special Olympics’ athlete involving what “Removing the R Word” campaign means to me. I was recognized in the Congressional Record of the United States of America of the 115th Congress by Honorable Ted Poe of Texas in the House of Representatives as a Golfer and Special Olympian. Since 2015, I have been a Global Messenger giving many motivational speeches at various organizations and events.
During the school year, I attend East Central University and in 2021, I will be obtaining my Bachelor of Science in Cartography with a Geotechniques Concentration. I am member of Alpha Chi National College Honor Society, Gamma Theta Upsilon, and Delta Alpha Phi International Honor Society. I am the current Treasurer of the Cartography Society at East Central University. I have been an Eagle Scout since 2008.
I was the main character, Andy, in a short film called “My Eyes,” which was based on a poem about a young man, Andy, with autism and how he views others around him. I was also in the movie, Loveland with other young adults with special needs. During my theatre experience of 16 years, I performed in many shows on stage as a member of the performing troupe of The Second Act Theatre (formerly Dionysus Theatre), a non-profit community theatre for individuals with special needs
As a Special Olympics’ athlete, I live the Special Olympics’ athlete oath of “Let me win, but if I can’t win, let me be brave in the attempt” by showing my determination, drive, and enthusiasm in sports while feeling that I am always a winner because I am achieving my goal of leadership and helping other athletes to also feel self-confident. To me, Special Olympics is not only about playing sports, but also about boosting other athletes in their training, competitions, and showing how proud Special Olympics’ athletes can be of everything that they have accomplished in the sports arena as well as outside of the sports arena.
My name is Tim Taggart and I have been involved for SOTX since 1991. I have competed in bowling, basketball, bocce, cycling, flag football, golf, power lifting, softball, soccer, tennis, table tennis, and unified sports.
I have been part of Team USA at the World Games in 1999 in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I competed in tennis and won a gold medal. In 2003, I was part of Team USA at the World Games in Dublin, Ireland where I competed in table tennis and also won a gold medal. I attended National Games in 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska and in 2006 in Ames, Iowa both competing in Unified basketball where we won the silver medal both times.
I am also very active in leadership in Special Olympics Texas. My athlete leadership began in 1993 when I trained as an athlete for Outreach which is now called the Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs). I have been a part of the Area 20 ALPs since 1993, serving as President for the past seven years. I have gone to Washington, DC Hill Day in 2008, 2014, and 2019 visiting with legislatures and spreading the word about Special Olympics. I have visited Austin Capitol Day in 1995, 2003, 2006, 2016, and 2019 speaking to the Texas legislatures.
My family was chosen to receive the Area 20 Family of the Year Award in 1993 and 1997 and we were chosen as the Chapter Family of the Year in 1997. I have been chosen as the Area 20 Athlete of the Year in 1995, 2003, and 2016. In 1995, 2006, and 2011, I received the Area 20 Outreach Award and in 2011, I received the Outreach Award from the Chapter.
I have given over 1,000 athlete leadership speeches to various organizations as well as to Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver (the founder of Special Olympics), Tim Shriver (the Chairman of the Board for Special Olympics), and Tom Landry (the former Dallas Cowboys Coach).
In 1993, The Family Channel awarded me Accentuate the Positive Away Award. From 1993 to 2003, I was the President of the Alamo Head Injury Association (AHIA) and from 1993 to 2005, I was also the President of the San Antonio League of Self-Advocates (SALSA).
Outside of the SOTX arena, I have been in two television commercials: a car commercial with Jessye James Laya and a golf commercial with my dad. I was also a featured extra in the movie, The Ringer.
I believe strongly in the Special Olympics’ athlete oath of “Let me win, but if I can’t win, let me be brave in the attempt.” I feel all athletes compete to win, but no matter what place the athletes achieve, everyone is a winner since they have trained and competed. The best thing I like about Special Olympics is being able to compete in sports, traveling with the organization, meeting people from all over the world and speaking about my involvement with SOTX. In my home, my family dwells on my ability and NOT on my disability.
Ian Rawn is a 37-year-old man who warms the world with his kindness and good cheer. His most recent joys have been participating in the Plano, TX Citizen’s Police and Fire Academies. A 20-year dream came true as he competed in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria in 2017, the lone Texan representing his state and country in figure skating. He is now ranked "4th in the World" and hopes to compete again in 2021 "for redemption" to bring back a medal for his country and state. His mantra on the ice and for life is, "If you fall, you fall, but you get back up and finish."
Ian has worked at Venturity Financial Partners since 2008. He serves on the Board of Directors of Special Olympics Texas and is a Global Messenger for Special Olympics National. He attends My Possibilities, a university for adults with IDD, studying leadership and performance dance. Ian volunteers for the Dallas Figure Skating Club and in Youth Ministry at his church in Plano.
Other interests include firefighting, paramedicine, and theatre. Ian completed 66 hours of state-mandated fire school training, serving as a permanent, probationary firefighter at Cochran Hose Company in PA, and was the inspiration for a movie script called, "Combustion." In Texas, he has been a volunteer for the Dallas County EMS and co-presenter at the National Down Syndrome Congress First Responder's Training. Ian is a theatre buff, performing for many years at North Texas Performing Arts Center and My Possibilities Performance Dance Group. Ian currently participates in research at the Universities of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Boston to help unlock the cure for Alzheimer’s.
Ian is the very proud recipient of a 2017 Honorary ESPY Award for Excellence in Sports Performance, holding that honor with his football idol, Dak Prescott. If there were rankings, Ian would be "1st in the World" Dallas Cowboy Fan and holder of the unquenchable belief in "Dak and the Boys" to bring home the ultimate win. In addition, Ian has received numerous honors including: United Way Community Hero, JC Penney Golden Rule Award Recipient for Outstanding Volunteerism, 1996 Olympic Torch Bearer for the Atlanta World Games - Presenter of the flame to the state of Arkansas, Community Leadership Hero - Richardson, TX, Recipient of Commendation from the State of Texas, Special Recognition from the City of Plano, and Honorary Superstar - Dallas Texas.
Deborah Varner lives in Burkburnett, Texas. She is 67 years old and part of the Blue Jays Special Olympics team. She is on the President Board for the state of Texas. She is the President of the ALPs for North Texas Area. Debbie’s purpose of Special Olympics is to get others involved with Self Advocates of Local and State. She will work with both as much as she can.
Hi, my name is Elizabeth Campbell and I live in Amarillo. I work at Hodgetown Stadium for the Amarillo Sod Poodles, a baseball team affiliated with the Double AA San Diego Padres baseball team.
I serve on the Executive Committee of the Athlete Leadership Council as its Secretary and am also the President of my local Athlete Leadership Committee of the Panhandle Area. I am a Global Messenger for the Panhandle Area. I have had the honor to earn the title of Athlete of the Year. I love doing sports all the time and I believe that Special Olympics is the fun thing to do.
If you, or someone you know, is interested in getting involved in ALPs, you may contact your area office for more information, or you can contact the Director of Outreach and Families at 1.800.876.5646. Find your local contact for ALP here.