Making an IMPACT at the Special Olympics 2018 USA Games
At DocuSign, we’re proud to have a longstanding relationship with the Special Olympics. While our partnership has historically been focused on helping ensure any athlete who wants to compete, can, via our DTM platform and e-signature solution, DocuSign employees have been participating, in increasing numbers, at Special Olympics events.
The most recent was the Special Olympics 2018 USA Games. On July 1, Special Olympics athletes congregated from all around the country to compete in 14 sports, including basketball, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, and others. Many of our employees here at DocuSign had the opportunity to share in the excitement by volunteering at the Opening Ceremonies. 100+ DocuSign-ers gathered alongside volunteers from Microsoft, T-Mobile, and others to form a line nearly a mile long, and cheer on and high-five athletes as they made their way to Husky Stadium.
We had the opportunity to interview two individuals who spearheaded this effort: DocuSign Solution Engineer Jesse Shao, and Partner Relationship Representative Bailey Stark. Below are their stories:
Jesse Shao, DocuSign Solution Engineer
At face value, Cheer Line volunteering looks like nothing more than a long body of volunteers giving out high-fives and cheers to Special Olympic Athletes as they make their way to the Opening Ceremonies. Really though, it is a story of culmination – Athletes representing 50 states congregating together, each with their own narrative, each putting in years of work, each ready to demonstrate acts of bravery in the spirit of competition. Within each Athlete, this story resides like a wildfire climbing over a body of water ready to seize the next swath of land – And I had the privilege of watching our DocuSign family catch fire on Sunday morning.
What did that fire look like visually?: A bunch of DocuSign folks drenched in rain on a Sunday morning running up and down Red Square to a line of a 1000+ Special Olympics Athletes making waves, hooting and hollering, and administrating the choicest of high-fives. I am pretty sure I wasn’t the only one to lose my voice that day – So to say that the energy was infectious and palpable would be an understatement – We were taken by the fire, and we became a part of that fire. For me, and what I hope others take away from the Cheer Line, is that by joining in the celebration, in a larger way what we are really saying: is that we see, hear, and truly value the contributions folks with intellectual disabilities bring into our lives.
Later in the afternoon, our CEO Dan Springer, our SVP of North American Sales Loren Alhadeff, along with Dale Goff’s daughter Tate as well as myself, and guest celebrity Allen Stone participated in The EPSN Unified Sports Challenge. An event pairing up folks with intellectual disabilities and co-workers to compete for a chance to donate a grand prize sum to the Special Olympics. (If you’ve ever wondered how Dan Springer is as a dancer – Just check out the Instagram feed!)
The event itself came with many surprises, ups and downs. Dan maimed his quad early on while warming up and had to weather the competition with one leg. (Even so he remained a high-performer in nearly every category… Dance being the exception) Loren proved to have an incredible arm, and gave former NFL quarterback Brock Huard a run for his money on the football accuracy challenge. Meanwhile, Allen Stone showed an unconventional approach to Bocce proved to be the most effective way to play. And by unconventional, I mean that every time he released the ball, he did so after hop-scotching in bounds like a unicorn attempting flight before placing the ball in a higher arch that landed in an astoundingly accurate fashion.
What left the largest impression on me however, was how available the guest celebrities were to the Special Olympic Athletes. One moment came halfway through the heat of competition when I felt a tug on my arm, to turn and see Tate pointing off in the distance at the other end of the field at Marshmello, a Music Producer and DJ. Now, if you’re not familiar with his work, he literally wears a giant mask that encapsulates his entire head, and spans a foot or two out on each side. (Worth Googling) Pretty-hard to miss him. In any event, Tate was star-struck to say the least, and wanted to get his autograph. “Let’s go,” I said, and we took off across the field. Not only did he stop everything he was doing to give her an autograph, he gave her the pencil he used to sign it, and took a photo with her. For the rest of the evening, Tate had in one hand the pencil, and in the other his autograph smiling from ear to ear. I was told later that she took it to school the next day with her.
In all – We had over 150 volunteers. Through our Dollars for Do-ers program, we raised approximately $15,000 for the Special Olympics. That effort combined with Dan Springer and DocuSign IMPACT’s contributions led that total to exceed over $40,000. Needless to say: it was a fantastic day indeed. DocuSign was represented from accounting, HR, Legal, xDRs, Account Executives, Solution Engineers, Rapid Adoption… All the way up to Executive Level Management. What that really speaks to, and what I couldn’t be prouder of, is what that says about the heart of our organization. The values we share around diversity and inclusion, and the measurable impact we bring around those beliefs.
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Bailey Stark, Partner Relationship Representative
It was April 2017 when I connected with the Special Olympics of Washington Chapter volunteer coordinator. The Special Olympics have always been a personal interest of mine. Once I connected with their organization, I grabbed Jesse, and we started planning the Special Olympics Summer Games. I didn’t know what the outcome would be, but we wound up getting a group of twenty people together to support the Opening Ceremonies. That was really rewarding. The event was well-received by everyone who participated, so that encouraged Jesse and I to devote more time and energy to the cause, because we realized it’s a cause DocuSign loves getting behind as well.
We did the Winter Games, and when we heard wind of the USA National Games being in Seattle this year, we knew we wanted to participate. The Seattle chapter has been super strong and supportive. It was a lot of work trying to navigate how to keep our relationship with Special Olympics of Washington, yet open our work up to the National Chapter as well while maintaining the same level of engagement. But, once we received the executive sponsorship from Loren Alhadeff, it was easy to gather volunteers. Loren was thrilled to be a part of the effort.
As for the ceremony itself, it was a great opportunity for the whole DocuSign crew. The cheer line started in Red Square -- which is in the middle of the University of Washington campus. That’s where the athletes started their walk to Husky Stadium. The walkway was lined with volunteers cheering.
Dale and Tate Goff’s presence was also something very special for DocuSign. I think having a DocuSign employee with an athlete daughter helped encourage even more people to get behind the effort.
As for the future, we’re continuing to seek more opportunities to work with the Special Olympics. We want to maintain and build upon the motivation our employees have for supporting the cause.
If you’re a DocuSign employee looking to volunteer with SOWA, please reach out to Bailey or Jesse directly.