Golfer Leaves Audiences ‘Speechless’ With Special Olympics PSA

Special Olympics is leaving viewers "Speechless" with its powerful new television public service announcement that has begun airing throughout the United States. The spot focuses on Special Olympics athlete and golfer Susie Doyens. Born with Down syndrome, Doyens remained practically mute for most of her childhood due to social pressure and anxiety.

In "Speechless," she literally shatters those fears and attributes her transformation to the confidence gained through Special Olympics.

At thirty-four years old, Doyens is an accomplished athlete in 10 sports and has collected more than 180 medals during her 26 years in Special Olympics. But golf is her passion.

In fact, her family chose to relocate from Illinois to Rotonda West, Fla., in 2011 primarily for the community's five golf courses.

For most of her childhood, Doyens communicated almost exclusively with her mother and through written notes. Then in 2001, Doyens shocked everyone when she asked to participate in a Special Olympics' Global Messenger training - a program that teaches public speaking to Special Olympics athletes. It was a life-changing decision.

"I used to never really talk, ever. I was scared and shy...I was afraid that I would say something wrong, and everyone would laugh at me," Doyens said. "I've learned a whole lot more than just golf. Special Olympics helped me find my voice."

Doyens is just one of four million Special Olympics athletes who shows the world every day how Special Olympics has the transformative power to reveal the champion in each of us.

The organization impacts not just the athletes, but also their families, says Susie's mom, Lynda Doyens: "Special Olympics is our purpose in life. When I look at her now, I'm the one who's speechless."

"Sadly, people with intellectual disabilities, the largest disability population on earth, are all too often conditioned to believe that their opinions are not important, that others are better suited to speak for them, or worse, they believe they don't have the right to be heard. This misunderstanding often leads to isolation and inactivity, and can even lead to bullying," said Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics. "We believe this PSA tackles the challenges head-on. Our goal is for viewers to see the spot, be inspired, and choose to help athletes like Susie."

The PGA of America will support the release of the "Speechless" PSA throughout its widespread media properties.

"Since 1988, The PGA of America has been a proud advocate of Special Olympics golf. Through the years, I have had the privilege to witness first hand the powerful impact that golf can have on athletes with intellectual disabilities," said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. "Their joy in playing the game, cheering on each other's good shots, and celebrating their victories is infectious. We're pleased to help promote the 'Speechless' PSA and continue our ongoing support of Special Olympics golf, including next month's annual Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational Tournament in Arizona. I know that many of my colleagues around the country are helping athletes just like Susie Doyens prepare for the tournament and look forward to an exciting three days of competition."

More than 200 golfers from 18 Special Olympics North America programs will compete in the 13th annual Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational Tournament at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz., Sept. 6-9, 2012.

KPMG, The PGA of America, USGA and PGA Tour are presenting sponsors of the 2012 tournament. The Special Olympics golf program began in 1988 with the assistance of The PGA of America and USGA. Since then both associations contribute to the growth of the program with grassroots training, rules education, tournament administration and national program financial support.

The PGA Tour also provides ongoing financial support to the program. PGA Tour player Padraig Harrington and LPGA Tour player I.K. Kim are global sport ambassadors for Special Olympics, helping to implement golf programs and initiatives designed to spread respect for people with intellectual disabilities.

 

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