By: USA Games Correspondent, Aimee Libby
They say that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Aimee Libby, this week’s nominee for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games #ImAGameChanger campaign, is a first-hand account of this phenomenon. For the readers who can recall last week’s story about Carson Libby, it is now obvious that he got his heart of gold from his mother, Aimee.
“Aimee is, in short, a rock star, and the more recognition I can get her, the better,” said Pete Anderson.
Pete is the father of Jacob Anderson, an Unified flag football athlete in the Albertville, Minnesota Special Olympics delegation. He has the privilege of watching his son experience tremendous growth through his Unified experiences and is certain this would not have been possible without Aimee.
Four years ago, Aimee transitioned from a small volunteer marketing role to an advocate and leader for the Special Olympics delegation in her community. She grew it from the ground up, and now manages over 100 Albertville athletes.
Pete explained that “Aimee’s heart for Special Olympics is incredible. She has built the strongest delegation in the state by putting in endless hours of hard work.”
These hours are all in addition to those dedicated to her freelance graphic design business and her full-time job parenting her two kids, Peyton and Carson. She believes in giving her children opportunities to engage and be included in the community, and it is this passion that fuels her work with Special Olympics.
She is constantly seeking out motivated and big-hearted students like Jacob and Carson to get involved in the community Unified teams, and this is how the program has grown as much as it has. Essentially, Aimee’s job is to hand pick people with specific strengths and put them in a position where they can add value.
Using her welcoming and positive attitude, she removes tension and helps educate people who may be unfamiliar working with this population. And with a large group of people supporting her efforts, Aimee has started several community events outside of the sports arena.
Albertville now has an annual Unified choir concert, in which both of Aimee’s kids perform. In addition, the Special Olympics athletes have had the opportunity to showcase their talents during the halftime show of the local high school’s football games. She even takes her teams on field trips to the Mall of America and weekly bingo at a local assisted living facility.
“Everyone walks away from her events a half an inch taller. She brings families from different circles into the same one and has built up a lot of trust in the community,” said Pete.
Her ability to rally the troops in Albertville allowed her to fundraise almost $20,000 that will sponsor the Albertville Unified flag football team travelling to Seattle to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games. This team was recognized for their talents, of course, but even more importantly for the attitude and culture of the Albertville delegation.
This is truly a community based on unconditional love,” said Pete.
And the lives that Aimee touches now extend far beyond those of the people of Albertville. She is currently working with Minnesota school districts to incorporate Unified programs into the schools.
Her efforts have gained her a lot of respect at the state office of the Minnesota Special Olympics according to the Director of Programs, Kelly Monicatti. And despite the districts’ resistance, Aimee continues to persevere and gain momentum.
“She wholeheartedly goes to the mat for those in need, regardless of any opposition she may encounter,” said Pete. “She goes through a lot of challenges that never get surfaced because she does a lot of thankless work. But she does it very well.”
Aimee is positioning the Special Olympics programs in Minnesota for long term success, and that will impact thousands of individuals with disabilities long after Aimee’s time in the position is over. And while you may think that her accomplishments are unmatchable, we can all learn from Aimee how determination and perseverance will have a lasting impact.