Opinion: Shining light on intellectual disabilities

Up to 200 million people worldwide have intellectual disabilities, according to the World Health Organization.

Benito Almanza, president, Bank of America Arizona

Benito Almanza, president, Bank of America Arizona

Despite advances that have been made over the years, these men, women and children face negative stereotypes on a daily basis.  It’s a constant struggle, and one that we need to address – no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient.

This summer, Special Olympics and Bank of America are providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people to join the movement for equality.

We’re bringing the Unified Relay Across America to cities and towns throughout the country, including Phoenix on July 5.

The relay will give residents of the Valley of the Sun and surrounding areas an unprecedented opportunity to show their commitment to inclusion and respect for all by simply getting involved.

Tim Martin, CEO Special Olympics Arizona

Tim Martin, CEO Special Olympics Arizona

Over the course of 46 days, the Unified Relay will deliver the Flame of Hope from Athens, Greece, to Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

The flame will visit each state, and by registering to participate and committing to raise a small amount of money for Special Olympics, individuals or teams can carry the flame for a half-mile segment.

There are several other ways for Valley-area residents to show their support, including volunteering, cheering on the participants and athletes, or taking part in festivities surrounding the relay.  We challenge the entire community to get involved in some way.

We urge you to take this challenge and pass it on – let others know why this is so important and how they can help make a difference.  There’s no reason why, in this day and age, people with intellectual disabilities should be overlooked and face barriers for equality.  You can help us make a change.

An opportunity like this doesn’t come around often. The Unified Relay will be a galvanizing moment for the Valley, Arizona and the entire country.

Sign up today at www.unifiedrelay.org.

Editor’s Note: Benito Almanza is president of Bank of America Arizona and Tim Martin is CEO of Special Olympics Arizona.


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