Fran Lewis-MacHarg came to Special Olympics Florida through her work as a teenager with people with intellectual disabilities. She’s been a County Coordinator, a coach, and an SOFL staff member. In the early days, athletics (track and field) was the primary sport, and events were loosely organized.
But as Fran and others worked with the athletes, they realized the athletes were much more capable of following rules and procedures than many people first thought. They began to bring more structure to competitions and encouraged officials to treat SOFL participants like any other athlete.
“ ‘Everybody wins’ was the first slogan I remember, and everybody interpreted that wrong. They thought that means all the athletes get gold medals. That wasn’t really what it meant.
“It meant everybody wins from involvement in Special Olympics. We won because we got involved and stayed with it for years. Athletes won because they got training. Parents won because they could see their children doing things they’d never imagined. I think the best slogan we’ve had over the years is ‘training for life’ because that’s what Special Olympics is.”