Stamp of Approval
By Karen Fanning

While the World Summer Games are still more than two months away, Special Olympics has already celebrated its first award. To the delight of philatelists, or stamp collectors, worldwide, the U.S. Postal Service has honored the organization with its very own commemorative stamp.

The new 80-cent international stamp was unveiled in February in Chicago, Illinois. Available at post offices across the United States, it features a Special Olympics athlete, arms stretched in the air, gripping the hands of two other athletes. Timothy P. Shriver says the stamp's design captures the spirit of the Special Olympics.

"We wanted a vision of a person with great athletic achievement," says the President and CEO of Special Olympics. "Special Olympics athletes are real athletes. They train hard. They compete at the highest level that their abilities allow them to compete."

Of the 50,000 design ideas received each year by the Postal Service, approximately 20 end up as commemorative stamps. In narrowing down the entries, a group of ordinary Americans, called the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, selects designs that honor the people, places, events, and accomplishments that have shaped our nation.

As a symbol of the American spirit, the Special Olympics will be honored this year with its fourth stamp in four decades, says Cathy Yarosky, a spokesperson for the Postal Service.

"We feel the Special Olympics is very significant and deserves to be recognized," she says. "It's honoring and acknowledging these very special athletes. The stamp pays tribute to their perseverance, their focus, and their courage. That's what goes into the uniqueness of our country."