U-Haul allocates a portion of its annual Arizona Tax Credit to benefit non-profit Academic Opportunity of Arizona (AOA), a qualifying School Tuition Organization (STO) that provides educational funding and support to children living with disabilities and low income hardships in Arizona. One group that AOA, in turn, proudly sponsors with its tax credit dollars from U-Haul is Special Olympics Arizona.
“Simply put, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without donors like U-Haul,” AOA co-founder Chad Bays said. “U-Haul’s donation directly funds and supports local children inside the classroom and out.
“Thanks to U-Haul’s support, we’re able to support and sponsor our local (Special Olympics Arizona) athletes in national and international competition.”
Representatives of U-Haul and AOA recently attended the 10th annual Breakfast with Champions at JW Marriott Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Special Olympics Arizona’s largest fundraising event of the year.
Offering a Chance
Tim Martin, President and CEO of Special Olympics Arizona, offered some numbers to reflect the amazing growth of the organization he oversees: 19,000 participates, 18,000 volunteers and 642 competitions.
“That level of growth comes from this room,” Martin said. “The support, the greatness and the vision you have to continue to push it and allow our athletes to have a chance. Thank you so much for what you have done.”
Martin told of one athlete who surprisingly responded in a dejected tone when asked how his day was going at a Special Olympics event. When Martin later approached him about being more positive, the athlete spoke through his tears: “Do you know how smart you get when you are asked to listen all the time but you never get the chance to talk? … I’ve been silent for so many years. I’ve learned so much. I want people to look at me and be able to realize that I have so much to say.”
“That’s what you give,” Martin told the crowd in the Marriott banquet room. “You are the champions of the chances that these athletes ask for.”
Martin listed the responses of other Special Olympics athletes when asked what chance they sought:
- Wear my schools uniform
- Eat lunch with my teammates
- Stick up for a teammate and have the chance to have that teammate stick up for me
- Stay after school for practice
- Make hard decisions and live with them
- Run a few laps for goofing off in practice
- Be held accountable
- Win or lose
- Fall in love
- Live in my own house
- Live life to the fullest
- A chance for you to hear me
Special Olympics Speakers
The morning featured inspirational speeches from American gymnast and Olympic Gold Medalist Bart Conner, and retired Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler.
Conner spoke about his journey with Special Olympics and the impact that he has seen it have on the athletes, the world and himself. “Look what all you have accomplished,” Conner said to the crowd. “I know there is still a lot to do to create true inclusion and understanding. But what has happened over the past 48 years is nothing short of revolutionary.”
Despite her retirement from active law enforcement, Kiyler continues to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics Arizona. She is chairing the 2016 Over The Edge event in Phoenix to raise funds for the Special Olympics.