H-I-S-T-O-R-Y! What’s that spell? Oh, just something Emma Broyles (she / her) made back in December after becoming the first Korean American and the first Alaskan to win Miss America. She now plans to become a dermatologist, but in the meantime, she’s helping out at the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, FL from June 5th-10th. (More info here on how you can volunteer, too!)
Here, she talks about what a typical day at the Special O looks like and why it holds an even more special place in her heart.
How long have you been involved with the Special Olympics?
I got involved when I was about 6 years old. My older brother Brendan—who has Down syndrome—was 8 when he began to have a difficult time keeping up with other kids in sports. The Special Olympics became a place where he could thrive and participate in competitions with others who have similar skill levels. It’s given him countless opportunities to become a more well-rounded person and an active member of society. Additionally, my mother and father had both previously volunteered with the Special Olympics prior to Brendan’s involvement. We now volunteer at every winter and summer games, supporting Brendan and all of the Alaska athletes.
So take us through a typical day at the Special Olympics.
At the winter games in Alaska, my family and I would go with Brendan to compete in his downhill ski events. Volunteers would be stationed to check him in, and then he would meet up with his team and coach to go through the day’s plan. The volunteers helped athletes up the ski hill and then positioned them in the right place for their event. After athletes completed their events, volunteers helped put their names on ribbons and medallions. The final part of each day was an awards ceremony!
Tell us about your social impact initiative “Building Community through Special Olympics.”
As Miss Alaska, one of my largest areas of focus was on Special Olympics in schools. When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to serve as the president of the largest Special Olympics school program in Alaska. I saw [how big] of an impact the programs had, giving students the opportunity to build connections with others who have intellectual disabilities. It not only allows unlikely relationships to blossom, but it also creates more inclusive school communities which benefits everyone.
How have you continued to advance the program as Miss America?
I worked closely with the Special Olympics to help my school become the first Special Olympics National Unified Champion school in Alaska. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to attend banner presentation ceremonies for schools also receiving this recognition. I now use my platform to speak about the event’s significance and how it can be used to aid communities in being more inclusive and welcoming.