March 20th, 2009
02:08 PM ET
14 years ago

Special Olympics asks Obama to consider hiring athlete

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Timothy Shriver is chairman of the Special Olympics."](CNN) - The Special Olympics organization is calling on President Obama to "consider" hiring one of their athletes to work in the White House, following the president's reference to the organization during his Thursday night appearance on The Tonight Show.

“In so doing, he could help end misperceptions about the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities, and demonstrate their dignity and value to the world," Timothy Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics, said in a statement released Friday morning.

iReport: What do you think about the president's comments?

Shriver also said the president was heartfelt in his apology, but added "words hurt and words matter."

"Words can cause pain and result in stereotypes that are unfair and damaging to people with intellectual disabilities,” Shriver said in the statement. “And using "Special Olympics" in a negative or derogatory context can be a humiliating put-down to people with special needs.”

Earlier: Obama apologizes for Special Olympics comment

Full Statement [PDF]

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. Jilli

    Oh lighten up Francis.

    He meant no harm.

    March 20, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. Say What?

    Oh please! Now they want favors. He made no mistakes. Get over it. Other people in the world are laughing at us over here.

    March 20, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Get Well Soon GOP

    about the organization during his Thursday night appearance on The Tonight Show.

    No, the comment was about Obama not the Special Olympics. If we hire this guy then can we make fun of them? This sounds like a Jessie Jackson or Sharpton move to get consessions for a false move.

    Are you saying this guy does not deserve a job but now that tention is high he sees a chance to slip in?

    March 20, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. Marla- FL

    Hire them to do "what" exactly? Are they aware that over 300,000 people filled out the Obama online job application and never got a call for a job? And those were people who were QUALIFIED.

    March 20, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. A Kickin' Donkey

    This sounds as opportunistic as anything the people at AIG or Wall Street have done.

    If Mr. Shriver would have had the confidence to make this suggestion before the comment then its origins are good and ethical.

    If he would not have then he shouldn't be doing it now. Do you believe he'd have offered this up on Monday instead of Friday?

    March 20, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. Carolyn Greene

    Did anyone connected with the special olympics offer an application for a job like that? I think it would be a good idea.

    March 20, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Beverly, NYC

    We already have the House and Senate more than enough people with "special needs" on the tax payers payroll. It was a self effacing remark about his bowling skills or lack thereof. Let's not turn an ant hill into Everest to push an agenda.

    March 20, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. Mike Dallas

    Now if the token Steele will appoint a "one armed midget" to the RNC, after getting the approval of the bald, bloated bonehead of course.

    March 20, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. Thomas

    “SLIP OF THE TONGUE” is an unintentional utterance; a mistake in speaking.

    This can happen to any human being. Whether it is Obama or Bush.

    There is nothing to make so much of a DRAMA of it.

    Be mature folks.

    March 20, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Rich in Seattle

    I watched him on Jay Leno last night and thought him talking about the economy was exactly what the country needs to hear. He made a joke that really wasn't meant to be mean, and that is what everyone is focused on. I am unemployed because I got laid off on my job, and THAT is what the media is focusing on? The little joke wasn't that big of a deal, fixing the problems of this country is. Maybe people should grow up a little. Did these people not have enough Octomom stuff to follow on TV yet? It's sad that these things distract people from the real issues. No wonder we elected someone like Bush twice.

    March 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. Sandy

    So because President Obama made a poor comment about Special Olympics, which he immediately apologized for, he needs to hire one of them? Give me a break!

    March 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. New Day

    ...and, cue Timothy Shriver's 15 minutes of fame... go!

    Pres. said something dumb that is commonplace in the American lexicon and apologized for it. done and done.

    March 20, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. turn TEXAS BLUE

    oh my GOODNESS! cut it out, it that's the case every time he brought up African American he needed to hire one for the white house, then he would have a all African American Staff! Stop! dont try to use this as a stepping stool. you need to run and work hard like everyone else in the white house.

    March 20, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. Justin

    Shriver. Shut the H.E.double hockey sticks up. You yourself call it the "Special" Olympics. Which means some of the people have disabilities to allow them to participate in the "Olympics". Take a chill pill and stop trying to get your 15 minutes of fame on the presidents behalf. There was no malice or ill-will in his comment.

    March 20, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. Lauralie

    Doesn't the White House already have a janitorial staff?

    March 20, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. Lane

    It's a good thing criticising Democratic presidents is off-limits. Otherwise President Obama would be excoriated.

    March 20, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. Bob

    One Word:


    March 20, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  18. ijoe

    now lets see all the hypocrites say weather or not this guy is qualify or not,because of his condition.

    March 20, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. Sharon

    I have a Down Syndrome nephew and I wasn't upset or offended by President Obama's comment..everyone has a slip of the tongue..he is only human and trying very hard to reach out to everyone… and I know this president wouldn't intentionally hurt anyone!! Since he is Bi Racial he's endured many racist comments from the McCain/Palin Cabal!!! And the GOP is still calling him names!!! Where is the outrage for that stereotyping????? And knowing President Obama he will do something with the Special Olympians..because he himself is a VERY special person!!!!!!!!!

    March 20, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. In Houston, TX

    Dear Obama.
    I don't think Mr. Shriver's request is too much to ask for. I hope you comply. But just to make sure that this individual feels like an equal to the other members of your staff, I would suggest that you put these special needs applicants through the same rigorous vetting process everybody else had to go through. If you do chose to hire one of these guys make them work for it!

    March 20, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. Penny

    The President not only gave a distasteful and inappropriate comment about the Special Olympics, he ridiculed the Secret Service, who are trained and prepared to protect his life – at the expense of their own. Does he think he looks cool by making these comments? I see it as dishonorable.

    March 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Mike

    He(obamby)is getting an award from the news people and has barred the press from attending, Iran snubs him, the UK is mad about the DVD's that do not work in the UK,he makes jokes about the special olympics. I guess obamby is finding out it is alot easier to talk about the Presidency than it is to be the President. Add to that, he had the Treasury Secretary protect the bonuses to AIG then had everyone lie about it is catching up with him.

    March 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. Eleanor

    I am sure President Obama would do this in a heartbeat
    but before everyone panics as usual ,please remember the President is not perfect!!!
    He will make mistakes the odd time and misspeak like all of us
    He is only human!!!
    Quit scrutinizing him so much and get behind him and support him
    He is truly trying and in my opinion an amazing president
    I have never seen a President and first Lady REACH out to the people
    like this couple and to all ethnic groups' in general all american
    It is indeed a refreshing change!!

    March 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  24. really a good idea

    no harm can come of it and it is good exposure

    March 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. Thebe

    Oh, brother! Stop it already.

    What about the Special Olympics hiring BUSH?! He fits the criteria.

    March 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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