The Magical Powers of the Special Olympics
By Keith Krach, Chairman of the DocuSign IMPACT Foundation
Two years ago at our annual DocuSign Momentum user conference, I had the honor of announcing the launch of our DocuSign IMPACT Foundation. As we at DocuSign pride ourselves on being in the transformation business, it was a perfect fit to make the mission of our foundation to be “Transforming people’s lives by transforming noble causes.”
As part of our launch, we highlighted our partnership with the Special Olympics because it is one of the most special examples of how our work of transforming noble causes helps transform people’s lives. I’m as proud today as I was that day — and with every day I have the privilege of attending a Special Olympics event — to say that DocuSign is empowering the 5.3 million athletes of the Special Olympics.
I will never forget when Special Olympics CTO Noah Broadwater shared with me the problem the organization faced at the start of every event — and how heartbreaking it was to hear that they had to deny athletes the chance to participate because of paperwork not being in order. Paperwork!
You see, at the start of every Special Olympics event, every competing athlete must present a current, doctor-signed medical permission slip at registration in order to compete. If they don’t have it, they can’t compete.
Noah said, “Imagine the implications and how traumatic that is for the athletes and their families who have given everything to be here for this one shining moment.” It hit me like a freight train that this incredibly noble cause shared a common enemy with us: paper. There is no greater feeling than to identify a problem and know that the amazing team around you can literally be the solution. With the DocuSign team by my side, Lonnie Snyder (DocuSign Advisory Board member) made that a reality and succeeded in revolutionizing this part of the athlete experience.
In thanks, Noah invited my wife Metta and I to attend the World Summer Games in Los Angeles to witness how special these athletes are firsthand. So that’s exactly what I did and it was life changing for me. At the opening ceremonies of the Summer Games, I had the privilege of walking in with the German team in the L.A. Coliseum. I have never experienced such a feeling of inspiration, love and joy. Not a single athlete was talking about which country was better or who was going to come in first place. Everyone was honored to compete.
At last year’s DocuSign Momentum conference I talked about my experience in L.A. and how the Special Olympics has transformed the lives of all of these athletes and their families. While holding the Special Olympics torch on stage, I tearfully said how proud I was of our Foundation for the impact we have had on the Special Olympics.
In January of this year, at a dear friend’s home, I met Tim Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics. He talked about the magical powers of persons with intellectual disabilities and how his mission to “embrace, celebrate and enable them” has transformed his life. He shared stories from his amazing book, Fully Alive, of how his own world famous Kennedy family struggled for many years with his Aunt Rosemary’s intellectual disabilities. The way that Tim and his family have channelled and redirected their personal pain by founding the Special Olympics so many years ago, and their continued leadership and commitment to building it into one of the most transformative global institutions dedicated to goodness and justice, is one of the most inspiring and noble examples of courage and heart that I have ever known.
I was invited by Tim to attend the World Winter Games in Graz, Austria, this past March and was able to see the Special Olympics firsthand through his eyes. My Chief of Staff, Hiro Rodriguez, and I were given the chance to mingle, talk, joke around, sing, and dance with the athletes, all while making lifelong friendships. We were even given the greatest honor of presenting medals to some of the winners. What was clear, however, was that we were the biggest winners and that we had been transformed and touched in a way we could never have imagined. Witnessing the triumph of the human spirit and the embodiment of true love as shown by these athletes, their families and the Special Olympics team, truly humbled me.
We at DocuSign are passionate about continuing our meaningful partnership and friendship with the Special Olympics. Next Wednesday at our DocuSign Momentum conference, I looking forward to hosting a very special fireside chat with Tim. Nothing could be more meaningful to me than to share the gift of his inspiring story and to continue DocuSign’s work to help transform this noble cause. At the end of the day, when we look into the eyes of those we are helping and can see how our great work has helped the world take a step toward goodness and inclusion, that is a celebration of the human spirit and we ourselves are transformed through the magically reciprocal power of giving.
Check out the highlight video here: Special Olympics World Games 2017 — Graz, Austria