David Solo, Special Olympics and Rob Salmon, Cohesity Inc. APPS

Cohesity joins Special Olympics to foster inclusivity through sport

The words Special Olympics are linked to the global event that draws the world’s attention. But just like the regular Olympics, for every four-year event there are hundreds of regional and local competitions. And thousands of athletes train daily to break through their own limits and achieve personal goals.

With disabled athletes, these victories mean more than a medal or milestone. They are symbolic of how they can overcome both physical disadvantages and societal prejudices.

“Society focuses on what our athletes can’t do and dwells on the disability,” said David Solo (pictured left), president and chief executive officer of Special Olympics Northern California and Nevada. “We don’t do that. We’re passionate about showcasing what they can do … so that they can be successful not only on the field, but off the field.”

And as Rob Salmon (pictured, right), president and chief operating officer of data management company Cohesity Inc., pointed out, self-esteem matters for every one of us. “Whether you have a disability or not, whether your young or my age, it matters,” Salmon said. “You see these athletes when they finish a race or accomplish something; they couldn’t be more proud.”

Solo and Salmon spoke with Dave Vellante (@dvellante) and John Furrier (@furrier), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the VMworld event in San Francisco. They discussed the positives effects the Special Olympics organization has in the lives of disabled athletes and in fostering inclusive communities (see the full interview with transcript here). (* Disclosure below.)

Sports as a catalyst for social change

“Tech for Good” is a core principle of VMware’s culture, and VMworld 2019 highlighted environmental and social causes. VMware partner Cohesity is making a positive impact through its support of the Special Olympics. Leading the effort is Salmon.

“[Special Olympics] are changing lives,” he said. “Lives of the athletes; lives of the people that work with the athletes; lives of the families.”

Originally founded to provide sports training for disabled athletes, over the past decade the reach of the Special Olympics has expanded. “We have inclusive education and health programs, and we’re able to bring together people with and without intellectual disabilities through those mediums,” Solo stated.

Educational programs on school campus programs bring together both able-bodied and disabled students. This interaction reduces bullying and enhances social and emotional learning, according to Solo. Another new area is inclusive health, with volunteer medical professionals providing free screening for disabled athletes.

More than athletic prowess, the Special Olympics mission is about inclusivity, fostering an attitude of acceptance regardless of physical, mental, or social differences. “Our goal is to change people’s attitudes fundamentally worldwide,” Solo said.

Instigating change is not a solo sport, and the Special Olympics relies heavily on community involvement. “We’re always looking for volunteers, donors, community supporters … particularly from the tech sector,” Solo said. “When you get involved and you see it, it definitely touches your heart, and you realize we could be doing so much more. We could be doing so much more,” Salmon stated.

To become involved with the Special Olympics, visit the organization’s global website: www.specialolympics.org. Residents of Northern California can visit the local site: www.sonc.org.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the VMworld event. (* Disclosure: Cohesity Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither Cohesity nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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