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Athletes Tout Their Uncommon Gifts To Help Special Olympics

Melissa McCarthy admired a “Special” T-shirt on NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday morning.

Damian Lillard of the Milwaukee Bucks wore one to his game Tuesday night.

Such celebrity sightings are part of the Special Olympics’ "Yeah, I am Special" campaign from the Tombras agency, which kicked off on Giving Tuesday with the launch of two billboards in New York City’s Times Square, an online shop and a video.

One billboard, featuring Special Olympics athlete Joshua Olds, notes that he “conquered 17 triathlons before turning 18.” The other, featuring Special Olympics athlete Madi "Maddog" Madory about to lift a large barbell, declares, “Show the World What it Means to be Special.”

Both boards include a large QR code next to the words, “Shop the Collection to Make a Difference.”

The QR code takes people to a “Yeah, I am Special” page with more images of the two campaign faces and the opportunity to buy branded T-shirts and other clothing, with sales benefiting the Special Olympics, whose mission is “to celebrate those of all abilities and foster the acceptance and inclusion of all people.”

Toward that end, the front of the shirts say “special” while the back defines the word, using terms like: “Exceptionally great. Important... A word that we can all hope to be called. Not for the things we cannot do. But for all the things that we can.”

Another line appears on the shirtsleeve: “The Revolution is Inclusion.” That’s also the name of a larger four-years-running Special Olympics campaign.

“The Revolution is Inclusion” campaign included an experiential tour, the “Inclusion Expedition,” with 10 stops across the U.S., a PSA called “Inclusive World,” other outdoor, print and digital components, and a signature drive for an Inclusion Pledge.

Partners in the campaign have included Bank of America, Toyota, United Airlines, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Hasbro, Tommy Hilfiger and Y&R.

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