For Pat Hart, Special Olympics Florida is a family affair.
It’s a relationship that began more than 40 years ago in Key West. Over four decades, Hart and her husband launched a bowling program for Key West athletes and she, her husband, and her daughter became coaches. Her daughter coached bocce, her son became an athlete, and the Harts, in 2017, were named Special Olympics Florida Family of the Year.
The early years weren’t easy. Hart remembers fundraising on the streets of Key West, asking passersby to donate to the bowling program. That program has since doubled in size and now receives regular funding.
Hart attended the 2003 Special Olympics World Games in Dublin as a spectator and once met Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. But her most memorable moments involve athletes and seeing how they’ve helped build more inclusive communities.
“Athletes have not only been accepted by the community, but they have now been accepted by the world,” she said. “It is so heartwarming to see.”