by TaLeiza Calloway
Danielle Liebl will be honored next month as the 2012 Special Olympics Minnesota Outstanding Athlete Leadership Programs Athlete. The College of St. Benedict junior will be given the award at the organization’s annual Distinguished Service Awards Banquet Sept. 22.
Liebl has been involved with Special Olympics Minnesota for many years. She was working with the organization of the banquet earlier this year when she was suddenly reassigned.
“I was really surprised,” Liebl said of her victory. “Now it makes sense why I couldn’t work in that department anymore.”
The Distinguished Service Awards recognize Minnesota Special Olympics athletes, coaches, volunteers, sponsors and family members who demonstrate an incredible amount of support, enthusiasm and time commitment to the organization. All can be seen in Liebl who lights up when she talks about Special Olympics and why it’s such an important organization.
As a high school student, the Richmond resident launched a campaign to end the use of the word retard, which she calls the R-word.” That campaign continues, and in 2010, the 20-year-old was invited to Washington, D.C. for the signing of a bill to legally stop the use of the R-word. This was an honor for her to see her reach extended beyond central Minnesota.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Liebl said of the invitation.
Liebl, a junior at the College of St. Benedict, is involved in Athlete Leadership Programs as an accomplished public speaker, speaking at national youth and education conferences throughout the country, as well as multiple other events and conferences. She also serves on the youth activation committee at both the Minnesota and national level.
She is a strong advocate in the message of eliminating the use of the R-word and has created a campus club at CSB to help further that campaign. The club, now in its second year, encourages playing sports such as soccer and flag football with non-disabled students to build camaraderie, she said. She’s eager for the club to grow on campus.
Liebl is a junior studying theology and peace studies. She currently serves on Minnesota’s Board of Directors for Special Olympics and is an Initiatives Intern at Minnesota’s Special Olympics headquarters in Minneapolis. Liebl embraces her leadership role within the organization and continues to strive to make Special Olympics a place for everyone.
Liebl will receive the award at the Special Olympics Minnesota Distinguished Service Awards banquet, Saturday, Sept. 22 at Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Welch, Minn.