Feb 16 • 16M

Hearts and Souls of Special Olympics

An athlete and coach publish a book about the organization

Jodi Hausen
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Photographs, media and stories fresh off my lysdexic fingers, conceived by my awesomely ADDled brain and from others with ADHD or other disabilities with the intent of making the world a more compassionate and inclusive place for all.
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I couldn’t help but give Ruth Spinelli a hard time when she sent me an email. "Check it out on Amazon hearts and souls of special olympics,” she’d written.

The cover of the book “Hearts and Souls of Special Olympics.” The title is light orange on a black background. Beneath it are a number of upraised colorful hands with white hearts on their palms. The authors’ names “by Ruth Spinelli and Alean Skinner” are in white block letters at the bottom.

I knew she’d been working on the book and, admittedly, it wasn’t hard to find. But clearly, Ruth needed a lesson in marketing. Girl, you need to include a link when you’re sending an email like that, I told her over a Zoom call about a week later.

Ruth and her coach Alean Skinner produced a collection of comments gathered from a survey they distributed at various Special Olympics Montana events. The book was released in late October last year and they were kind enough to come on my radio show, Eclectica on KGLT in November for an interview.

The show is primarily music but being a public radio station, sponsorships and public service announcements are called out about every half hour. I’ve deleted most of the chaff and music in the recording. But I couldn’t help myself when it came to Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” and “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles the latter of which is a favorite at Special Olympics Montana events.

A young woman with short light brown hair and wearing her red Bozeman Flames team apparel speaks into a TV camera. She is wearing several Special Olympics medals and blue ribbons. Her image is visible in the monitor of the television camera in front of her.
Ruth Spinelli being interviewed about Special Olympics by John Miller of MTN Sports in 2021.

“The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”

And one final note, Ruth and Alean are donating a portion of the proceeds from book sales to Special Olympics Montana.

Have you had experiences with Special Olympics? I’d love to hear about them. Please share in the comments.