Address at the Dollar Rent-A-Car Annual Convention

"Together we can transform life for millions and millions and millions of human beings...Our work is producing results, even miracles, night and day, everywhere, maximum results with minimum costs. Never have so many human beings been working -- free-of-charge –- to help so many who are helpless!!"
Orlando, FL • January 13, 1994

This is the first time in my life I have ever started a speech with a question. But, here goes: --

What can Special Olympics do to help you achieve the goal: -- “High-Five in ’95"!!

We’re ready to work for you just-as you work for us.

That’s saying a lot. Maybe we won’t succeed. We’ll never reach. Gary Paxton’s level of success. That’s for sure. But we’re willing to try.

How about giving us big, over-sized, imitation, dollar bills to stuff into all of Our letters? On one side would be your Dollar Rent-A-Car, sales pitch. On the other side would be George Washington’s picture, and all the other details of a real dollar bill. We mail millions of letters annually. Why can’t you be in’ every one of them -- at least for a couple of months... Think about it!

How about Dollar Rent-A-Car stickers for our own personal automobiles?

How about Dollar Rent-A-Car posters for display at Special Olympics’ offices?

I saw one of our posters displayed in one of your passenger busses at the Miami airport last week. It looked great to me. But would you display similar posters about Special Olympics in your busses if we gave you new ideas for posters every three months or so?

Undoubtedly, you have better ideas of ways we can help you. My first and only point, in this speech, at this moment, is simple:

Special Olympics International wants to help Dollar Rent-A-Car in new, imaginative, and mutually helpful ways -- now and in the future. Just tell us how we can do better!!

Now I’m going to change the subject and tell you some unbelievable facts! The first thing I want to emphasize is this: --

I am not responsible for the success of Special Olympics. Just the reverse. I am the original skeptic!! I was present when my wife started experimenting to find out what mentally retarded persons could do, rather than what they couldn’t do. I had no idea that her experiments would ultimately produce “Special Olympics”!

Second, I have been in 150 countries, and in every State, not as a tourist, but as a worker or salesman! But, I’ve never had a product which sells itself, without me or anyone else even visiting the territory, without anyone calling on the customers!

For example, no one from Special Olympics ever visited China or Russia, or Tanzania or Chile or Bolivia, or even Canada or Mexico or France to sell Special Olympics! Those countries, and dozens more, signed up on their own volition.


Because they liked the product. They saw the results. They thirsted for the Spirit of Special Olympics. They were, and they are now, hungry for the hope Special Olympics embodies, the hope for a better life, and a better world for themselves, and for their children. They revel in, they luxuriate in, the joy Special Olympics brings to them personally, to their families, to their lives.

Dollar knows all about this. That’s why you are getting ready to role out a new advertising campaign starting Sunday in major the travel sections...all aimed to attract the leisure traveler. You are associating Dollar with good times and joy and vacations and memories, and hope!!

That’s exactly what Special Olympics does. That’s why we are perfect partners, not just good business, bottom-line, but good business from the beginning of life to the end.

Special Olympics creates events where everybody is happy, where most people have to come by an automobile or a truck or a Dollar Rental Car. We attract leisure travelers, but we also appeal straight to the heart of parents and friends and children and old people who are touched by the achievements of persons with mental retardation, human beings who face obstacles to health and happiness none of us have ever experienced. Special Olympics creates scenes, and gives experiences which touch our hearts, and remain for all time in the memories of millions of human beings of all ages, all races, all nations. We touch hearts and raise hopes at 20,000 Special Olympics events every year in every town, in every State in the USA alone!!

That’s why Special Olympics is an incredible success!

Think of this: -

  1. Special Olympics is the only private, philanthropy created in this entire 20th Century to be accepted world-wide. We’re already a booming business in 125 countries. And more are joining every year.
  2. Special Olympics is the only private, philanthropy ever created in the USA to be accepted, welcomed, world-wide. And, we have never paid anyone, even a nickel, to join our movement.
  3. We’re the only athletic program which enlists competitors from 8 to 80 years of age. We’re the only athletic program open to human beings with I.Q.'s of 40 and I.Q.'s of 180!!! We’re the only athletic program open to-fat people and “thin-as-a- rail” people. The only one where a superb runner can win a Gold Medal running the 100 metres in 12 or 18 seconds, and another can win the Gold while running the same distance in 40 seconds. This unprecedented result from our commitment to “ability grouping” -- our method for creating competition between persons of comparable abilities.

Can you believe we now have more than a million registered athletes in Special Olympics.

Five years ago we started a program for the parents and siblings of our athletes. We’ve already enlisted 683,000 families in the USA and 250,000 abroad. Those numbers will continue to-grow. Everywhere where Dollar is we are adding parents and athletes, and friends, -- 5, 10, even 15 percent annually!

No wonder that “Special Olympics” in March of 1988 became the first and only sports program for handicapped persons fully recognized by The International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. They even established a unique committee to work with us.

No wonder that Special Olympics, last year, 1993, staged the first, world-Wide Olympic Games for handicapped persons ever held on the European Continent. Yes, we had Winter Games in Austria. The President of Austria and the Foreign Minister of Austria and the former Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, and their most beloved former President, Rudolph Kirchschlager, were joint hosts for a black-tie dinner in Vienna, in their Presidential Palace in honor of “Special Olympics”,..something they had never done before...for any organization...something done in 1993 in a country where in 1943 they were killing mentally handicapped persons, along with Jewish people and gypsies!. That was quite an occasion! And, Special Olympics used Dollar cars -- through your sister company Eurodollar --to meet our transportation needs that historic night.

My friends, I could rant on and on like this: I apologize for ail the superlatives I’ve used. You must think I’m out of my mind. But, let me finish this way.

I have not exaggerated one bit. I have told you only the truth. And, am not responsible for any of these triumphs, not for any of these achievements.

On the other hand, I have grown as a human being because of Special Olympics. I have experienced joy ‘from competitive sports I’ve never dreamed of before in my life. And I am only one of the many, many millions of volunteers, parents, friends, coaches, athletes, lawyers, nurses, doctors, politicians, businessmen and women, who have made the miracle of Special Olympics a reality, a fabulous reality of the 20th Century. With Dollar’s help, this reality will grow and probably become the greatest dream come true of the 21st Century!

There are 250,000,000 human beings with mental retardation. They and their families are waiting for Special Olympics, and for transportation by Dollar.

Last night when I arrived at our hotel, The Contemporary Resort, I just happened to read a little card standing on the bedside table in my hotel room. The card contained a quotation from Wait Disney’s famous movie, “Cinderella”.

The quotation read:

..."A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes”..."A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes”...

How strange, I thought, aren’t those the very words I just wrote about Special Olympics...that it would become the greatest “dream come true”

Was Walt Disney, writing “Cinderella” years ago, telling me this very night, telling us, something special about the 21st Century? Was he telling us -- “Yes, if you wish with all your heart, work with all your heart, pray with all your heart, your dream will come true? Was he saying “yes, all those 285,000,000 human beings now alive and suffering from mental retardation can be transformed into useful and happy and admirable and loving human beings?”

Friends, the answer to those questions is “yes”.

You and I, and thousands of human beings just like us, can work, with God’s help, one of the greatest miracles in history.

You and I, and thousands of human beings just like us, can work, with God’s help, one of the greatest miracles in history.

Together we can transform life for millions and millions and millions of human beings. We are already doing exactly that for millions of human beings at this very moment I speak to you. Our work is producing results, even miracles, night and day, everywhere, maximum results with minimum costs. Never have so many human beings been working -- free-of-charge –- to help so many who are helpless!!

You and I, -- everyone in this room -- everyone who works for Dollar Rent-A-Car anywhere and everywhere are part of a mighty multitude which is changing the face of the earth for millions and millions.

I believe we have only begun. We are destined to become the sports organization with more athletes and coaches and volunteers than any on earth. 25 years from now we shall have 5,000,000 or maybe even 10,000,000 athletes and friends in Special Olympics, all of them becoming worthwhile fellow citizens of ours, everywhere on earth. And all of them could be Dollar Rent-A-Car customers!!!

Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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