Special Olympics

ESPN employees among 30 Disney VoluntEARS at 2015 Special Olympics

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On July 25, the Special Olympics World Games began in Los Angeles. ESPN, the official media partner for the World Games, has multi-platform coverage of the event through Aug. 2.

Disney, a Founding Champion and Sponsor of the Games, furthered its support through its second Disney VoluntEARS Global Service Project. Eight ESPN employees are among the 30 Disney VoluntEARS, representing 15 countries, selected via an application process to assist with the Special Olympics.

Front Row asked Bristol-based employees Scott Pentoney, associate director of Media Technologies; Jennifer Leimbach, manager in Management Operations; and David Kelly, a senior manager in Finance, to write about what this opportunity means to them. Here are thoughts Pentoney, Leimbach and Kelly shared before venturing to Los Angeles:

Scott Pentoney

ESPN employees (L-R) Denise McFarlane, Ana Blanch, Scott Pentoney, Jennifer Leimbach, David Kelley, Brienne Gallagher, Mark Porter and Amie Giersdorf at the Walt Disney Studio Lot, Legends Plaza. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Leimbach)
ESPN employees (L-R) Denise McFarlane, Ana Blanch, Scott Pentoney, Jennifer Leimbach, David Kelly, Brienne Gallagher, Mark Porter and Amie Giersdorf at the Walt Disney Studio Lot,
Legends Plaza. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Leimbach)

ESPN employees, Disney VoluntEARS at SOWG 2015

Ana Blanch
New Media
Mexico

Brienne Gallagher
Production
North Carolina

Amie Giersdorf
Sales & Marketing
Michigan

David Kelly
Finance
Connecticut

Jennifer Leimbach
Management Operations
Connecticut

Denise McFarlane
Sales & Marketing
New York

Scott Pentoney
Media Technologies
Connecticut

Mark Porter
Marketing
Australia

The world is witnessing the Special Olympics like never before – through the storytelling of ESPN – and I can’t believe I’m witnessing it, and assisting in it, first-hand. What an incredible honor!

2015 will be a transformative year for our company and its relationship with our fans. I don’t know if I’m more excited to see our coverage or to participate in the entire [Global Service Project] GSP volunteer experience! Appropriately enough, the first day of competition, Sunday, July 26th, also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – a law in the U.S. which has undoubtedly affected every one of our U.S. competitors.

This experience is about as personal as something could get for me. I have family members – a son with Down syndrome and a cousin with intellectual disabilities – who participate in Special Olympics and live life by its oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

We’ve taken that oath and used it – using the term “win” loosely – in our daily, non-sporting tasks. It’s not just a “sometimes” thing, for us.

It’s an “every day” thing. Every day we give it our best “attempt.” We don’t always “win,” but we try to be brave, give it our all, and not be discouraged. As a result, we often find joy and perspective.

And if work wasn’t personal enough, I managed to make it more.

I have had the privilege to work with fantastic colleagues as the Events Chair on the ESPN ENABLED (ESPN’s disability-focused employee resource group or ERG) leadership team. Two past leaders, Jen Leimbach and Dave Kelly, are the only other Bristol-based reps elected to participate in the Disney VoluntEARS GSP.

Dave is a past Team ESPN Volunteer of the Year. I’m so proud of this ERG, what it stands for, what we’ve accomplished, and what we will continue to accomplish. These dedicated and caring individuals know the importance of acceptance and the benefits of inclusion.

Our company will be in many good hands during these World Games. I’m especially proud to be alongside these two sets as we represent and assist.

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