Joseph Rivers is one of King County’s 3,000 Metro Transit operators. He is also a former Special Olympics athlete, current volunteer, has coached and refereed for the games, and is the proud father of two of the athletes competing in this week’s Seattle- and King County-hosted 2018 Special Olympic USA Games!
Rivers joined King County Metro General Manager Rob Gannon before the games to announce the partnership between Metro, Sound Transit and Port of Seattle in support of the USA Games. He also discussed the games with KIRO 7 and the Seattle Times. “They’re happy for the support they receive,” Rivers said of the athletes to the Seattle Times. “A lot of the athletes that come and participate are there to win, but then again following the model of ‘let me be brave in the attempt,’ they’re happy to play.”
Rivers added, ““Depending on what you’re doing and what your goals are, it does get scary for some athletes. But then again, they get over it and they do it. And whether they win or not, they feel a sense of accomplishment.”
Rivers’ daughters are two of 4,000 athletes, who join an estimated 15,000 volunteers and 70,000 spectators who will be taking in the games and all King County and Seattle have to offer. “Seattle is a great place to host these Games,” Gannon said. “We have world-class facilities and are surrounded by natural beauty, but even more important Seattle is a place truly committed to equity and the idea that everyone – every single one – should have equal access to opportunity.”
Metro is providing athletes with 4,000 prepaid ORCA cards, allowing them use of public transportation at no charge. In addition to the ORCA cards, Metro is also supporting the games in other ways; including with 75 Metro volunteers who will be in the University District area helping those 4,000 athletes, coaches, and 10,000 other volunteers connect with transit to get where they need to go!
Just like Rivers has been supporting the Special Olympics since long before this week’s excitement, Metro’s support for and inclusion of great people like Joseph is a long-term commitment as well. “Our Department of Transportation has become a big champion of Supported Employment,” said King County Supported Employment Program Manager Christina Davidson, “with Transit hiring four new positions over the past six months, and Roads hiring a new position in 2017.” The county’s Supported Employment Program matches qualified candidates with developmental disabilities to business needs within King County government. Davidson added, “A big Thank You to Transit and Roads leadership for their commitment to building an inclusive workforce!”