Meet a real Special Olympics athlete whose name is identical to the value of Special Olympics “Molly Hincka”

“Our goal is to tell as many people about Special Olympics as we can and tell them about how fabulous it is,” Kerry Hincka said. “Having a huge corporation like P&G taking a strong position with the athletes is just fantastic.”

Procter & Gamble’s newly expanded “Proud sponsor of moms” campaign includes a commercial featuring a Special Olympics athlete, Molly Hincka, left, and her mother, Kerry Hincka, right.

Among Molly’s many accomplishments, she has qualified for the Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece, this summer, where she will compete in the 5,000 meters, 3,000 meters and 4 x 400 relay for Team USA.

“I never saw the things my child couldn’t do. I only imagined what she could,” Kerry says in the video spot.

On a recent call to talk about the Special Olympics, Kerry and Molly were joined by Tim Shriver who is following in the footsteps of his mom, Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver. The new head of the organization explained that “Everybody needs a fan. Everybody needs someone to believe in them. And usually that first fan is a mom who sees something valuable.”

Molly’s role as a global leader is testament to the fact that everyone counts and something to share. By traveling to Athens for this year’s Special Olympics, she and all the other athletes are claiming the Olympic legacy. They’re making the point that the Special Olympics, like the “real” Olympics, are about human courage and spirit. None of the participants are looking for pity or sweetness; just the opposite. They’re looking to show the world they’re heroically gifted individuals making a difference.

In introducing herself, Kerry said she has “the great privilege of being Molly’s Mom” The pride in her voice was apparent as is her unwavering support of Molly’s athletic endeavors. The two run about six miles a day and are a fixture in their Michigan neighborhood.

Molly was born with an intellectual disability and wore leg braces as a child. Doctors predicted she might never walk, yet at her high school, she ran cross-country and track and field all four years, earning a varsity letter and serving as a team captain her senior year.

“Her freshman year she finished last every race but just kept on going,” Kerry said. “The team rallied around her and I think she was an inspiration for the girls.”

Molly began participating in Special Olympics at age 8, and since then the whole family has gotten involved. Kerry, who works part-time at the local Library, coaches Special Olympics swimming while her husband, Jerry, coaches Special Olympics basketball. Special Olympics is a wonderful opportunity to compete in athletic events, and raise their own level of personal health and fitness.

Asked what got her started running, Molly responded “I have long legs,” to which she followed up with “and it makes me feel good everyday.”

The Medal Stand On the medal stand, Molly (right) celebrates her Silver medal win in a snowshoe competition.

With 40% of Special Olympians women (and organizers hoping to raise that number to 50%) it’s clear that sport can be used as a vehicle for empowering women. It teaches them to respect their bodies, be strong and live a healthy lifestyle. Equally important, it teaches women they can be champions.

“I’m very excited” Molly said wrapping up the call “and I’m going to win a medal!”

The Special Olympics 2011 World Summer Games will take place in Athens, Greece, from June 25 – July 4. For the 316 Team USA athletes who will travel to Athens, it’s an opportunity to compete amongst more than 7,000 athletes from around the world. But in the eyes of their moms, it’s an opportunity for their children to experience a new level of empowerment.

Good luck this summer to all the Olympians and their families.

To support the movement and all the athletes, be sure to watch the online spot featuring Molly and Kerry. For every “like,” share, or comment on its ‘Thank You, Mom’ Facebook page, P&G will donate $1 to Special Olympics Team USA, up to $250,000. Click here to participate.

The campaign, by Wieden & Kennedy, was introduced last February during the NBC coverage of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and returned last May for Mother’s Day.

A Force in Snowshoes, Too Molly (right) and her sister Charlotte, in their snow shoes, waiting for a competition to begin.

“I never saw the things my child couldn’t do,” she says. “I only imagined what she could.”

The spot concludes with these words on screen: “Thank you, mom, for fighting for our Special Olympics athletes,” with an announcer voicing the “Proud sponsor of moms” theme.

Procter will return in April with additional ads intended to help raise money for the Special Olympics, said Glenn Williams, a Procter spokesman in Cincinnati. Procter has been a sponsor of the Special Olympics for more than 30 years, he added.

I am lucky enough to tell all of you about the Hincka Family, the stars of the P&G national ad campaign for Special Olympics. I recently had a wonderful chat with Molly’s mom, Kerry, and here is the first part of our conversation…..

Q. Tell me about your daughter Molly.

A. Gosh, that is a hard one, and it will be hard to capture her on paper. Molly is a tall, beautiful girl with a heart of gold and a spirit that is strong. She loves to share her enthusiasm for life with everyone she meets. She is extremely social, and remembers the names of people’s kids and pets and always asks about them. At our church and in her youth group in high school she was known as the hug-o-matic, best hugs in town, whenever you needed one.

Q. What sort of volunteering does she do?

A. She volunteers at an Alzheimer’s facility in our town and is loved by the residents. She also participates in many other works of service throughout the year. She is an amazing big sister to Charlotte and Danny, and especially loved being 10 when her brother was born. She mothered him, read him stories, and played with him. I think she wishes he was still a baby! As part of the community based learning program she attends, she “works” 2 mornings a week in a head start preschool program. As you can see she is popular with all age groups!

Q. Having been told Molly wouldn’t walk, it is wonderful that Molly has excelled at athletics. When did you first realize Molly had great athletic potential?

A. Molly lives in a family of jocks, so she didn’t have much choice in the matter! She was taking swimming early, and once she started walking we just proceeded with the same sports her big brother had played. She also took dance classes for 3 years.

Q. What is Molly’s history with the Special Olympics? How did she get involved, how many has she taken part in?

 

A. When Molly turned 8 on March 5th, 1999 the first Special Olympic sport on the calendar in our area was track! So we headed down to the high school for practice on the first Saturday in April. From the moment we arrived, there was such a feeling of acceptance, love, excitement to meet the new athlete, welcome from the parents and coaches, it was unbelievable, UN explainable. Molly was able to compete and succeed, WOW! She has participated non- stop since she began, and has done gymnastics, swimming, snowshoe, track, golf, softball, soccer and basketball.

Heading to the Finish Molly takes the lead as she heads down the final stretch of the track

 

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