Global Athlete Input Council
Members of the new Global Athlete Input Council, from left, Julio Barrera, Latin America; Jasmine Sharif, Asia Pacific; Ken Melvin, North America; Nada Al Rachid, Middle East/North Africa; Brightfield Shadi, Africa; Wilson Man, East Asia; Micheline Van Hees, Europe Eurasia.
Athletes and Advocates

It's been an exciting year in Athlete Leadership, starting with the creation of the first Global Athlete Input Council. Members of the GAIC balance multiple assignments: as internal advisors to SOI leadership; as leaders of external promotion and awareness of Special Olympics; and as advocates on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities. They also guide integration of athletes into meaningful roles within the Special Olympics movement.

In the words of GAIC member Julio Barrera of Panama, "An athlete leader is the one who sends a message of hope and motivation to society -- and also inside the Special Olympics organization. Athlete leaders go beyond expectations -- not only for being an athlete, but for being an example to all society."

Special Olympics athlete leaders are exceeding expectations all around the world: As of 2017, we can celebrate more than 45,000 athlete leaders in a variety of meaningful roles – an 11% expansion in just one year!