Remembering Tom Songster


Tom Songster in a hat and Hawaiian shirt.

This month we’re remembering Tom Songster, Ph.D., an early pioneer of the Particular Olympics motion—recognized for his willpower and dedication to other folks with highbrow disabilities—and for serving to broaden Particular Olympics into a number one world sports activities and humanitarian group.

Tom Songster used to be referred to as “probably the most few other folks” who, from the start, grasped Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s distinctive imaginative and prescient for Particular Olympics. He started this paintings in 1968, as a founding father of the Particular Olympics Program in Indiana. Shriver quickly introduced him on as a staffer at Particular Olympics World (SOI) headquarters in Washington, DC, the place he took on many jobs with the brand new group. Tom Songster spent the following a long time operating with tenacity to peer Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s imaginative and prescient come alive.

Retired since 2008, Tom Songster gave up the ghost lately on the age of 83.


He leaves at the back of crucial legacy of training training and excellence, sports activities control, management, and program building.

A former cross-country and monitor athlete, Songster become a professor of Bodily Schooling at Indiana State College. Along with his wisdom and fervour for sports activities, he labored to coach pros in particular training, bodily training, and sport to assist other folks with disabilities. He started operating with Particular Olympics as the primary and handiest volunteer Director for the state of Indiana in 1968. When Eunice Kennedy Shriver presented him the Director of Sports activities and Sport place at SOI HQ in 1974, he approved and moved to Washington, D.C.

“Every time Tom’s title is discussed within the circles of tailored bodily training, other folks acknowledge him maximum for the advent of the primary Particular Olympics training guides, the root for instructing our volunteer coaches. Tom traveled world wide and impressed many to sign up for our motion. He become a real ambassador for Particular Olympics, inspiring other folks far and wide the arena to get entangled.”

Tim Shriver, Particular Olympics Board Chairman and son of founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Songster performed a number one position within the world growth of Particular Olympics by way of serving to get started Systems in many nations together with China, Russia, Egypt, India, Turkey, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Argentina.

Songster used to be Particular Olympics’ director of Sports activities Coaching and Pageant for two decades and, all the way through that point, led the control of sports activities festival for every of the Particular Olympics Global Video games from 1975 to 1995. Along with a sports activities control legacy, Songster additionally leaves his imprint at the launching of Particular Olympics Unified Sports activities®.

Tom Songster standing with two athletes.

One of the crucial practices that units Particular Olympics aside as a sports activities group is our technique to divisioning and festival. Songster led the improvement of a method for that manner. He used to be instrumental in growing the Particular Olympics Normal Laws, which give you the construction and the blueprint for developing new Systems, and the Sports activities Laws, which give a information to coaching and festival and are the type for mainstreaming our athletes into common sports activities

He additionally performed a key position within the building of the Wholesome Athletes® initiative that used to be formally introduced in 1997. Early on, he identified that our athletes wanted higher get right of entry to to well being care and services and products—which might additionally toughen their talent to coach and to compete.

Through the years, Songster authored a large number of articles, analysis paperwork and curriculum associated with highbrow disabilities and sports activities. He gained awards and popularity for accomplishments within the occupation of bodily training and sports activities, together with the Paul Kersenbrock Humanitarian Award, the R. Tait McKenzie Award, and the PALAESTRA Management Award.

“Tom Songster labored with energy and goal within the early years of the Particular Olympics motion and despite the fact that he’s now not with us, his presence is felt each day in our paintings. His legacy continues to polish brightly, guiding and galvanizing all folks who practice in his footsteps.”

Mary Davis, Particular Olympics CEO



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