Over her four decades with Special Olympics Florida, Betty Marshall served in virtually every capacity possible with the organization. She coached, volunteered, and helped raise money. She was a mentor, a friend, and a mother figure. In 2019, she became the first woman of color inducted into the Special Olympics Florida Hall of Fame.
Though Marshall has stepped away from active volunteering, she still works with her god-daughter, a Special Olympics Florida athlete with autism.
Marshall came to Special Olympics Florida in the late 1970s, while completing a teaching internship. She was inspired by the athletes’ commitment and overwhelmed by the sense of camaraderie she felt at Special Olympics Florida events.
“I came back with such a good feeling,” she says. “I knew it was something I wanted to be part of.”
Looking back, Marshall is grateful society has become more inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities and proud that she and Special Olympics Florida have played a role in that. Our mission to foster respect and acceptance has enabled athletes from across the state to imagine and achieve remarkable things. That work must continue, Marshall said, so everyone can reach their full potential.
“We’ve come a long way,” she said. “But we still have a long way to go.”