By Andrew Butler


Photo credit Photo courtesy of Michael Arch

Photo credit Photo courtesy of Michael Arch

HUNTLEY, Ill. — A recent Mass for People with Special Needs organized by St. Mary of Huntley Council 11666 was an opportunity for all of God’s children to experience his love.

“I don’t think I have ever felt a higher presence of God during the Mass than I did at this Special Needs Mass,” said Michael Arch, who helped organize the Mass at St. Mary Church with fellow Knights.

Steven Cook, a young man with Down syndrome who delivered the first reading, seemed to agree.

“After he completed the reading, he hugged everyone on the altar and then continued through the crowd,” said Arch.

The Knights were inspired to organize the Mass when they saw such Masses encouraged as part of Faith In Action, the faith-based model for charitable and religious programs introduced by the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council last year.

“We connected with the parish and Father Max loved the idea,” Brian Parker, the council’s director of life programs, said. “We all came together to make it happen.”

Father Max Striedl, chaplain of Council 11666, celebrated the Mass, while the council’s faith director, Deacon Jim Conrey, assisted.

“This Mass, like every Mass, really is about hopefulness,” Father Striedl said in his homily. “We’re celebrating the hope that we have in Christ.”

Father Striedl said that while so many people face struggles, illnesses, and infirmities, we find hope because God the Father loves us so much that he was willing to send his Son to the cross to save us.

“As St. Paul says in Scripture that if he’s willing to do that, of course he’s going to give whatever else we need to keep moving forward in life. To keep facing the challenges and the struggles that come our way.”

The Knights worked together with the parish’s director of pastoral care, as well as the director of the Special Religious Education (SPRED) program, to organize the Mass.

In the weeks leading up to it, the Knights invited parishioners and made clear they would make any accommodations necessary to ensure everyone’s full participation.

On the day of the Mass, five Knights were available to provide transportation to the Mass for anyone who might need it. The Mass was celebrated in the parish hall as it was more easily accessible.

“Any out-of-the-ordinary happenings were embraced and never judged or seen as disruptive,” Arch said. “It was a place where everyone could approach God just as who they are and how God made them.”

By organizing a Mass for people with special needs, a parish has the opportunity to welcome people who might not normally feel comfortable participating in a regularly scheduled Mass. It can be the first of many steps toward including them more deeply in parish life.

Damien O’Connor, Senior Director of Membership Experience and Formation at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Headquarters, noted the importance of this program.

“Part of being a Knight of Columbus is not only to be Christ for others but to see Christ in others, especially those with special needs,” O’Connor said. “The Mass for People with Special Needs is part of the Faith in Action Program because those with special needs are truly living icons of God’s love.”

The Knights are leading the charge to see Christ in those with special needs in Huntley. Council 11666 plans to make the Mass an annual event to help ensure everyone at the parish can feel welcome and included.

Click here to learn more about the Knights and how you can get involved.

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By Andrew Fowler


Putting faith into action should be the goal of every member of the Knights of Columbus. While Knights are known for countless charitable activities in their parishes and communities, some have made the ultimate sacrifice as martyrs for the faith and others have been recognized for their heroic virtue.

The challenge for every Knight is to live as a saint, and eventually to be one with God in heaven. This isn’t impossible. There are Knights, whose reputation for sanctity has been recognized by the Church and whose causes for beatification and canonization have been opened.

There are steps toward a declaration of sainthood – Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed, Saint. To reach canonization, two miracles attributed to a candidate’s intercession must be recognized by the Vatican and approved by the pope.

Here are where Knights’ causes stand:


Monsignor Bernard John Quinn

Monsignor Bernard John Quinn

Monsignor Bernard John Quinn 

Msgr. Quinn fought against the rise of nativism and racism in the 1920s. He established the first parish for black Catholics in the Diocese of Brooklyn. He also rebuilt an orphanage not once, but twice, after the first one was burnt down by the Ku Klux Klan. Msgr. Quinn exhibited great love for his parishioners, saying, “I would willingly shed to the last drop my life’s blood” for each one of them, regardless of race.

After a nine-year investigation, the Bishop of Brooklyn has advanced Msgr. Quinn’s cause, submitting it to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Irving Houle

According to his biography, Irving Houle received the stigmata — bodily wounds and pain corresponding to Christ’s passion and crucifixion — on Good Friday 1993. He was told by Jesus and the Blessed Mother to begin a ministry to convert sinners. A family man in Michigan, Houle dedicated the rest of his life to praying with tens of thousands of people, some of whom were apparently healed of physical and spiritual illnesses.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops unanimously supported the advancement of his cause on the diocesan level in June 2019.

Cardinal Terence Cardinal Cooke
During his tenure in New York, nine nursing home were completed and sixty percent of the abandoned and neglected children in New York City were cared for.

He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2010, and his cause for sainthoodadvanced.


Father Michael McGivney

Father Michael McGivney

Father Michael McGivney

Father McGivney is the founder of the Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the world. A parish priest in New Haven, Conn., he gathered a handful of laymen to create the Knights to make sure no family would become destitute if the breadwinner died, which was a harsh reality in the late 1800s.

Father McGivney was declared venerable in 2008, which means that he displayed “heroic virtue” in his life. There are many testimonials that he has interceded on behalf of peoples’ prayers. A miracle through his intercession is needed for his beatification.

Father Patrick Peyton
Known as the “Rosary Priest,” Father Peyton was the founder of the Family Rosary Crusade and Family Theater Productions. He produced more than 800 radio shows and 83 TV specials that featured stars like Frank Sinatra, James Dean, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart and others.

He would end every show with the motto he popularized: “The family that prays together, stays together.” Father Peyton was declared Venerable by Pope Francis on Dec. 18, 2017.


Carlos Manuel Rodríguez

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez

Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, Rodríguez was a Knight of deep spiritual insightwho was largely self-taught in matters of the faith. At the University of Puerto Rico’s Catholic Center, he was committed to young people, sponsoring days of fellowship and prayer called “Christian Living Days.”

After approving a miracle, in which Rodríguez interceded in curing a case of non-Hodgkins malignant lymphoma, St. John Paul II beatified him on April 29, 2001.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Archbishop Sheen was one of the most influential Catholics of the 20th century. He hosted The Catholic Hour on NBC and the television shows, Life is Worth Livingand The Fulton Sheen Program. Roughly 30 million weekly viewers watched the two-time Emmy winning program as he evangelized using the technology of the day.

Pope Francis recently approved a miracle attributed to Archbishop Sheen, which involved the recovery a newborn who was believed to be stillborn after showing no vital signs and he soon will be beatified.

Father Andrés Solá Molist, Father José Rangel Montaño and Leonardo Pérez Larios 

Father Molist, a Spanish Claretian missionary; Father Montaño, a Mexican diocesan priest from Leon; and Larios, a layman, were executed for their faithon April 25, 1927, in Rancho de San Joaquin, Mexico. Tens of thousands of Mexican Catholics were killed during the country’s revolutionary period, especially between 1926 and 1929, when the Mexican government carried out systematic persecution of the Catholic Church.


Six Mexican Martyrs

Six Mexican Martyrs

Six Mexican Martyrs

Of the 25 Mexican martyrs whom St. John Paul II canonized in 2000, six were priests and members of the Knights of Columbus. All of them were killed during the Mexican government’s persecution of Catholics in the early 20th century.

They were:

  • Luis Bátis Sáinz
  • José María Robles Hurtado
  • Mateo Correa Magallanes
  • Miguel de la Mora de la Mora
  • Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán
  • Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero

St. Rafael Guízar y Valencia

Known as the “bishop of the poor,” Valencia lived through the Mexican revolution in 1910 and the government’s persecution of Catholics in the 1920s. In 1910, he went underground, disguised as a junk dealer to continue his ministry. Valencia went on to serve in Guatemala and Cuba. As bishop, he founded a clandestine seminary to train future priests, and escaped death several times.

He was canonized on Oct. 15, 2006, by Pope Benedict XVI

These men strived to be a saint, and exemplify what being a Knight is all about. They are examples everyday Knights can turn to and pray to, asking for their intercession.

To learn more about the Knights, click here.

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Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians

The Knights Of Columbus Council 506 are hosting the traveling icon, Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians in our Church from the week of July 7 through the 13th.

A Higher Purpose

Spread devotion to Our Lady and pray for our brothers and sisters of faith who are at risk around the world through the Marian Prayer Program. As the new Marian image is brought on pilgrimage through the jurisdiction, councils will host the Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians icon for a prayer service at their parish.

The 2018-2019 Marian Prayer Program presents the 18th Marian image sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, this time of Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians. Each Knights of Columbus jurisdiction receives several Marian images, which serve as the centerpieces for prayer services conducted in churches and council meeting places throughout the Order for the duration of the initiative. Since its inception in 1979, the Knights of Columbus’ Marian Prayer Program has held more than 166,900 local council and parish prayer services with some 20 million participants. This year, the prayer service is intended to raise awareness of the plight of Christians persecuted for their faith and to stand in prayerful solidarity with them.

Action Steps


  1. Working with your pastor, obtain his permission and recommendations on conducting a Marian Prayer Service with the Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians image.
  2. Working with your jurisdiction Marian Prayer Program chairman, coordinate when your council is scheduled to receive the image.
  3. Identify council and parish members to fulfill the various roles required in the service.
  4. If not enough booklets remain from previous services, order additional copies of the Marian Prayer Booklet (#5050) and Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians Prayer Card (#10740) through Supplies Online, the supply ordering portal available on Officers Online.
  5. Prior to the Marian Prayer Service, use the Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians sample press release as a model to create and distribute a tailored release to local media.
  6. Build public interest for the event! Promote the Marian Prayer Service with the Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians image in your parish and larger community through a variety of efforts:
    • Prominently display promotional posters (which can be ordered through Supplies Online)
    • Bulletin announcements
    • Pulpit announcements
    • Posting on your council and parish website / social media pages


  1. Representatives of your council should attend the prayer service at the council from which you will receive the image and bring it to your council or parish.
  2. Hold your Marian Prayer Service with the following guidelines in mind:
    • If possible, the choir leader should review the hymns with the congregation before the service
    • Advise the readers and congregation to recite the prayers at a moderate pace to ensure the service is truly reverent
    • Throughout the evening, be ever mindful of Christians who are persecuted for their faith throughout the world, past and present
    • No money should be collected at the service itself
  3. At the close of the prayer service, formally present the image to the next host council. Also collect all Marian Prayer Booklet(#5050).
  4. After the service, the grand knight or council Marian Prayer Program chairman should record information about the council’s Marian Prayer Service in the Marian Prayer Log Book (#10741) that accompanies the image.
  5. Strongly consider hosting a dinner or other social event in conjunction with the prayer service. This is a perfect opportunity for your council to participate in the Christian Refugee Relief Program and raise awareness and much-needed financial support for Christians at risk. Although the Marian Prayer Program cannot be double-counted for the Christian Refugee Relief Program, a fundraiser after the service could help satisfy the Christian Refugee Relief Program. Visit more information and ideas.
  6. To gain credit for your program, complete the associated reporting forms and submit them to the Supreme Council Department of Fraternal Mission. Remember to retain copies for your council records.

Thank you to Mike Smith for the photos.




Trikes for Tykes
Knights of Columbus Council 15238 in Dawsonville, Ga., is feted by the local board of education for their charitable contributions to the Dawson County Schools Department of Exceptional Children.

Assisting persons with developmental disabilities has long been a priority of the Knights of Columbus. Blessed Mother Mary Council 15238 in Dawsonville, Ga., has been raising funds for the benefit of children with autism for several years, and recently began co-sponsoring the Dawson County Spring Games, an athletic competition for children with disabilities.

Still, the Knights wished to do more.

A council member who is a special education teacher proposed an idea. Community relations director Joe Hirsch made a few calls, and a plan was launched. At the beginning of 2018, the council set a goal of raising $10,000 to provide sensory rooms and recreational equipment for students served by the Dawson County Schools Exceptional Children Department.

They nailed that target and surpassed it. After furnishing trampolines, swings, bouncy seats, weighted vests, and other such items for sensory rooms at five county schools, the council presented school officials with yet another gift: tricycles specially built for those with special needs who require sensory breaks.

The colorful trikes are equipped with hand cranks, rotating seats, seat belts, and the means to strap a child in from the head down for safety. They are especially helpful for students with certain muscular or neurological disorders who are unable to use other sensory equipment.

Special needs students often require particular sensory input in order to help them settle down and focus. Sensory rooms provide therapeutic space and equipment for this purpose.

Most children need some kind of physical activity at intervals throughout the day in order to function best. Some special-needs children can’t participate in the same activities and yet still require some kind of active stimuli suited to them.

“Kids need sensory breaks,” Hershel Bennett, head of the Exceptional Children department, told the Dawson County News. “They have a ‘sensory diet’ to help them get through the day. … If you think about kids on the playground, every kid gets to be on a swing. It’s on every playground – merry-go-rounds, swings, movement things. Well, a lot of our kids can’t do that. They don’t get that sensory break during the day.”

With the Knights’ latest donation of tricycles, exceptional kids who need a break can simply “go down to the gym and do a couple laps, then come back,” Bennett said.

Deputy Grand Knight Thomas Gillespie gave much of the credit for the success of the fundraiser to the local Kroger supermarket, where for several weekends Knights and special-education teachers distributed brochures to shoppers encouraging contributions to the worthy cause.

“We’re just glad to be involved,” Gillespie said. “It’s been a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for all of us.”




7 Facts about the Sacred Heart of Jesus
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart adore the Sacred Heart of Jesus in this devotional image. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

Why does the Church have a feast day just for a heart?

The question comes to mind with the celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus coming on Friday, June 28.

Here are 7 important things for Knights to know about the Sacred Heart devotion:

  1. The heart of Jesus connects us to his true human nature.From the time he took form as a baby in Mary’s womb, Jesus has had a real human heart. Reverence of his heart reminds us that Jesus is “true God and true man” and keeps us from seeing his life, death and resurrection as solely spiritual realities.
  2. Devotion to the heart of Jesus stems from his death on the cross, when a soldier pierced the Savior’s heart with a lance. Blood and water flowed from the wound — the elements of the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Baptism.
  3. The Sacred Heart devotion was popularized in the 17th century by the visions of Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun who received the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart. The feast of the Sacred Heart was extended to the whole Church in 1856.
  4. Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, grew up with the Sacred Heart devotion. An image of the Sacred Heart painted on porcelain is one of the few items that have come down to us from the McGivney home in Waterbury, Conn. This tells us that our founder’s Irish-immigrant parents brought the devotion with them and passed it on to their children. The devotion lasted till the end of Father McGivney’s life — he was buried with an image of the Sacred Heart.
  5. You can see for yourself. The porcelain piece from the McGivney home and Father McGivney’s Sacred Heart-embroidered burial garments in the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, Conn. If that’s not in your travel plans, check out the items in this virtual tour.
  6. The help line is open. The Father McGivney Guild, which promotes our founder’s cause for sainthood, sponsors an annual novena (nine days) of Masses leading up to the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Submit your intentions to the novena online.
  7. Starting a devotion to the Sacred Heart is as easy as…saying this short prayer:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.

Keeping an image of the Sacred Heart in your home, and having it blessed by a priest, is another great way to bring your own heart closer to the heart of Jesus.

A Drop To Drink



By Andrew Fowler


KITAKYUSA, Uganda — One Knight’s determination to “give the children a fighting chance” turned into a mission of providing water and medical care to an African village.

In January 2012, Father Gerald Musuubire was traveling to visit family in Uganda. He took parishioner Robert Maher, a fellow member of St. Peter and Paul Council 11475 in Palmyra, Va., with him on the visit to the remote St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Parish in Kitakyusa. Upon arrival, Maher was shocked by the poverty and lack of medical care.

“There was nothing there,” Maher said. “People put fruit into the collection baskets because they don’t have money. That’s how bad this area is.”

Maher asked Father Musuubire what happens to villagers if they get sick. The priest’s response was dire: they get better on their own or they die.

In fact, two in five village children were not surviving to their fifth birthday. This moved Maher to act.

After the flight back home, Maher said he was determined to “give the children a fighting chance.” He approached his council about raising money to build a clinic at St. Francis parish — where the Knights were given permission to build a facility.. Council 11475 raised $60,000 and received donated medical equipment from the University of Virginia. In January 2014, the clinic opened.

Since then, the clinic has treated 9,000 people per year for malaria, arthritis, breathing problems and also administers vaccinations.

Father John Vianney Kitoolo, former pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, noted just how much the Knights’ assistance has helped the people there, “From the long distances they used to move to access health services, from the long hours they would sit in a queue waiting to receive medical assistance, all those are now memories to narrate to next generation because what they need is now just a stone’s throw away.”

Maher and Council 11475 raised an additional $24,000 to construct living quarters nurses adjacent to the clinic which opened in 2017 for the nurses working there.

But then there was another need: clean water.

Children from Kitakyusa carry jugs for miles to the closest water source, which is a swamp. The children then boil the water to make it potable. The lack of readily available clean water is a major concern for the clinic.

“We have an increase in patients since the completion of the facility,” Father Denis Wamala, the current pastor of St. Francis of Assisi wrote to Maher. “There is no supply of running water at the parish itself. … We request(ed) the Knights of Columbus to come to our rescue.”

Council 11475 has raised nearly $15,000 to have a water-well dug next to the clinic. Maher says construction for a 30 foot-well cost between $25,000 to $30,000.

The Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus made a donation to a $1 million fund to construct an additional 94 clean water projects to bring clean water to 48,236 people in southeastern Uganda. The Knights’ contribution funded 8 drilled wells and 2 rehabilitated wells in partnership with charity: water.

Funding the water wells is just one way Knights serve the most disadvantaged. Through the Helping Hands initiative, Knights councils worldwide organize programs as they see fit to assist the needy.

“[As Knights], we do what we can to help people,” Maher said. “It’s time for me to give back.”

To learn more about the Knights, click here.

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By Joe Pappalardo


When a German artillery shell killed 1st Lt. William F. Davitt on Nov. 11, 1918, the Knights of Columbus chaplain became the last American officer to die in World War I. That same morning, the fighting would stop at 11 a.m. on Armistice Day.

Davitt would leave the trenches to drag wounded soldiers out of no man’s land to safety. The volunteer Knights of Columbus chaplain also continued to celebrate Mass, hear confessions and give last rites while supporting the troops in France. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross for leading a rescue party through machine gun fire to save 40 wounded soldiers.

Despite all of this, he never received a Purple Heart for his ultimate sacrifice. His family is on a quest to change that.

Robin Davitt, the chaplain’s great-niece and a retired Air Force Colonel, visited the Knights of Columbus museum’s World War I exhibit in early May, along with her cousin Christina Davitt Dubis. A Gulf War veteran herself, Col. Davitt is seeking a posthumous Purple Heart for her great uncle.

“If he were royalty he would be the people’s prince,” she said, noting the strong bonds he held with his parishioners and family in western Massachusetts.

Before he was braving bullets and saving lives, Father Davitt was a priest at St. Ann Parish in Lenox, Mass. There, the local Knights, Council 2412, is named after him. Several other landmarks across Massachusetts bear his name, including the Father William F. Davitt Memorial Bridge in Chicopee and a memorial square in Worcester. Each year, football players at his alma mater —College of the Holy Cross— see his name on the awards for most outstanding offense and defensive player.

Col. Davitt said it was incredible “for a priest back then to say ‘I’m going to give up the Berkshires and go minister to the troops and say Mass.’”

Father Davitt left the life of a parish priest to support soldiers fighting in France. Along with his famous rescues, he was known to assist in burying fallen troops and going over the top of the trenches alongside U.S. forces. Even burial parties could be shot while tending to the dead because it required them to leave cover for no-man’s land.

Still, Father Davitt has yet to receive the Purple Heart. He was confirmed to be eligible on November 13, 2018, but there’s a catch — only direct family members can receive the award on his behalf. For grand-nieces like Col. Davitt and Dubis, this means there’s more work to be done.

“I’ve been reaching out to just about everybody,” Col. Davitt said, listing the Secretary of Defense among the officials she’s contacted to appeal for the award.

Until then, the family remains proud of the efforts of Father Davitt.

For the full list of Chaplains and Knights like Davitt who lost their lives in World War I, click here.

If there are corrections to the list, they should be sent to, Knights of Columbus Museum. She is keeping the master list of Knights who were killed in WWI.

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#Knights4Life: 7 Ways the Knights of Columbus Amazingly Defend Life at Every Stage

Like other Catholic organizations, the Knights of Columbus defends life in its various stages from conception to natural death.

The Knights do so through a variety of unique initiatives, including:

1) The Knights of Columbus was founded to care for widows and orphans.

The needs of suffering immigrants and families inspired Father Michael J. McGivney to establish the Knights as a fraternal benefit society and this mission remains to this day.

2) The Knights stand against violent racial and religious discrimination.

At the peak of the Ku Klux Klan’s popularity, the Knights opposedthem and other forms of discrimination. The Knights also aided Mexican Catholics persecuted by their government in the 1920s.

3) The Knights have helped plan every March for Life in Washington since the first in 1974.

Thanks to countless hours of volunteer work, local Knights councils also sponsor their own local marches from San Francisco to Ottawa to the Philippines.

4) Knights sponsor a poll showing most Americans want restrictions on abortion.

Done each year for more than a decade, this poll points out that 3 in 4 Americans want significant restrictions on abortion.

5) Knights have donated over 1,000 ultrasound machines since 2009.

These ultrasound machines help mothers to better understand and bond with the life within them. If every Knights-donated machine prompts four moms per week to keep their babies, over 1 million lives have been spared.

6) Knights have collaborated with Special Olympics since its founding in 1968.

The Knights have embraced the organization, whose athletes demonstrate that all human lives have value.

7) Knights defend persecuted Christians throughout the world.

The Knights efforts since 2014 to aid persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East culminated in November with the signing by President Trump of a humanitarian aid package from the U.S. government.

Click here to learn more about how Knights defend life.

Special Olympics

Jared Niemeyer to represent Special Olympics at United Nations

Jared Niemeyer to represent Special Olympics at United Nations

Special Olympics Missouri is proud to announce that Jared Niemeyer, SOMO Board Member and Athlete Leader, has been selected to represent Special Olympics, June 10 in New York City, on the first-ever all-athlete panel for the 12th meeting of the UN Conference of States Parties for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The panel will be comprised of a total of 5 Special Olympics athletes who are accomplished leaders in sports, health, human rights, youth engagement, media, employment and advocacy for persons with intellectual disabilities. The panelists will discuss how sports helped them develop skills and gain the confidence to exercise their rights and take advantage of opportunities. This panel will showcase the talents of our athlete leaders in a way that will eventually impact UN governance and decision-making.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2006. The CRPD is a legally-binding agreement between the Member States who have signed the Convention to uphold, promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities as defined in the treaty. Article 40 of the CRPD stipulates that States Parties (signatories to the Convention) shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties (COSP) to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the Convention. Since 2008, the COSP has been held annually at the UN headquarters in New York, covering a range of themes and issues in round-tables, interactive dialogues, and side-events.

The overarching theme of the 12th session of the UN Conference of States Parties is Ensuring the inclusion of persons with disabilities in a changing world through the implementation of the CRPD.

Jared Niemeyer is a Special Olympics Missouri athlete who has been participating since he was 9 years old. Currently, Niemeyer plays the following sports with SOMO: Unified softball, basketball, bowling and track and field.  “Special Olympics has given me a lot of opportunities – it’s made me a better person,” he said.

Niemeyer is a 2011 graduate from Kirksville High School. In addition to working at his local Hy-Vee store, he is active as a member of the St. Joseph Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus. He has served as a state and national Youth Activation Council member and had remarkable opportunities because of Special Olympics, which includes: participating in the 2010 and 2014 USA Games in Lincoln, Neb., and Princeton, N.J., respectively; speaking at the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in June 2014; and as one of 14 Special Olympics athletes nationwide attending a “Unified Generation” program at the White House.

As a trained Global Messenger in addition to speaking at the United Nations and meeting President Obama, he has been afforded the opportunity to travel around Missouri and speak with different organizations about what SOMO is and how it affects his family.

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said, “Through his athletic accomplishments and dedicated advocacy, Jared Niemeyer has shown the world what people of all abilities can accomplish when they have the opportunity to participate. I couldn’t be more proud to see him once again headed to the United Nations to promote inclusion across the globe. I was at the Special Olympics World Games, and it was clear the organization can bring people of all nations together in a uniquely inspiring and transformative way. I know Jared will do a great job sharing that message.”