The Special Olympics USA Games kickoff this weekend and the connections for King County Metro are personal.

Metro transit operator Joseph Rivers, a former athlete, coach and parent of two Special Olympians will be there. (That’s him being interviewed by a TV reporter.)

Joseph Rivers, Metro Transit Operator and Special Olympics former athlete, coach and parent of two athletes.

From the Seattle Times:

Joseph Rivers, a 34-year-old Kent resident, spent the past 15 years involved in the Special Olympics as a participant, coach, referee and now father of 15- and 11-year-old daughters who are competing in the Games this year.

“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,” said Rivers, who appeared in his first Games when he was 15 in 1999. “They’re happy for the support they receive.

“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.”

And soccer player Jonathan Leckband will be there (He works in Metro human resources. Read his story on the King County Employees Blog)

“I’m excited! This will be my first time playing at this level,” Jonathan said. “There will be more than 4,000 athletes at the games. I’m looking forward to the chance to show how good our team is. This will also be a chance to demonstrate sportsmanship, and maybe make new friends.”

Jonathan Leckband makes a save in goal.
Jonathan Leckband and his job coach, Employment Consultant Meghan Spellman.

We also have 75 Metro volunteers in green aprons and carrying transit information at the University of Washington to make sure athletes, families, coaches and fans can find their way to transit routes nearby. Our sponsorship of the games includes 4,000 prepaid ORCA cards provided jointly with Sound Transit.

The spirit of inclusion, community and service flows strongly throughout Metro.

Our bus drivers, customer service staff, mechanics and supervisors are united in providing excellent public service to the region. We welcome, celebrate and honor the Olympians and wish them great success as they visit our region to compete and win!

“We’re honored to do our part for the Games, and invite the athletes, families and volunteers to ride and enjoy our frequent and reliable transit services,” said King County Metro General Manager Rob Gannon. “We’re inspired by both the competitive spirit and sense of community the Games are bringing here, and hope everyone enjoys our region’s unique sights and wonderful culture during their stay.”