Thunderous cheers greeted 4,000 athletes and their coaches as the Opening Ceremony kicked off the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games on Sunday. The excitement, enthusiasm, and joy of the athletes was reflected by more than 39,000 fans in the stands at Husky Stadium, getting the week of competition, special events, and fun off to a rousing start.
Kaiser Permanente Washington president Susan Mullaney, and Steve Tarnoff, MD, president and CEO, Washington Permanente Medical Group, accompanied Team Washington athletes into the Opening Ceremony. They were joined by two longtime Kaiser Permanente staff members who find special meaning in Kaiser Permanente serving as the Official Health Partner of the Games.
“Special Olympics is an amazing example of our organization and our community coming together to embrace diversity and acceptance,” said Sean Adelman, MD, longtime orthopedics physician with Kaiser Permanente. His 21-year-old daughter, Devon, is competing in stand-up paddleboarding at the Games. “The event is a microcosm of the acceptance that’s needed throughout the country and the world, and I hope it’s the start of a wave of inclusion, rather than the crest.”
Michelle Barlow, who has worked in Patient Financial Services in Spokane for many years, has a 23-year-old son, Bryce, who is competing in paddleboarding during the Games. “It’s wonderful to work for a company that supports these great athletes,” she said. “Special Olympics has been such a big part of my family’s life and it feels good to share it with my work family as well. Thank you, Kaiser Permanente, for creating this wonderful experience. It will definitely be a lifelong memory.”