Actor Chris Pratt and his wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt, are among the latest celebrities to become Special Olympics Global Ambassadors. In this mission-based role, they’ll help advance the global movement for the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
“Special Olympics has always been a huge part of my life,” declares Schwarzenegger Pratt, who is the granddaughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics. “My grandmother dedicated her entire existence to being an advocate for those with special needs, and my childhood consisted of going to Special Olympics events and my cousins and I being camp counselors at Camp Shriver.”
In the 1960s, Kennedy Shriver established Camp Shriver at her Maryland farm to offer inclusive activities for children with special needs during summertime.
Schwarzenegger Pratt is the daughter of actor/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger and journalist/author Maria Shriver. Similar to the storytelling skills of her mother, Schwarzenegger Pratt has penned several non-fiction books. She’s also been open about her struggles with mental health stability.
“Chris and I are so thrilled to be a part of the Special Olympics family as a couple and to continue to spread the mission of Special Olympics and advocate whenever and wherever we can about inclusion, dignity and acceptance. This is a movement that speaks to our hearts as parents and individually,” Schwarzenegger Pratt explains.
The pair welcomed their first daughter together in 2020 and, just this May 2022, added another little girl to their family. Pratt also shares a 9-year-old son, Jack, with his ex-wife, actress Anna Faris. Jack was born about 2 ½ months prematurely weighing only 3 pounds 12 ounces. He suffered cerebral hemorrhaging and stopped breathing several times. At that time following his premature birth, pediatric neurosurgeons warned Pratt and Faris that their son may be developmentally disabled. To their surprise, his prognosis improved and, aside from some muscle issues in his legs and vision problems, they report that Jack leads a fairly typical, healthy life.
“I’ve had a lot of roles in my life—actor, producer, father—and I’m humbled by the chance to serve as an ambassador for Special Olympics,” Pratt says. “I’m continually amazed by the bravery and spirit of these wonderful athletes. I stand by Special Olympics on their quest to make the world a better, healthier and more joyful place—one athlete, one volunteer, one family member at a time.”
In addition to being motivated by the medical hurdles Jack faced, Pratt says the opportunity to advance inclusive sports, the heart of Special Olympics, was a distinct draw to becoming an ambassador.
Pratt started his acting career on the small screen with a role on NBC’s comedic sitcom Parks and Recreation. He went on to become a box office star thanks to leading roles in Jurassic World, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Infinity War, all of which required Pratt to stay physically fit and active. He also understands that playing sports builds valuable skills relevant off the playing field, like discipline and teamwork.
Thanks to Pratt’s encouragement, Marvel Studios is exploring production assistant roles to be filled by Special Olympics athletes! Special Olympics is providing the Unified Leadership training program for Marvel Studios, which shows leaders without disabilities how to improve their behaviors and practices, challenge the status quo and make their organizations more inclusive.
Special Olympics strives to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. The organization promotes the acceptance of all people through sports and various programming. In North America alone, over half a million athletes participate in the 32 sports offered by Special Olympics.
For a two-year term running through late 2023, Special Olympics will charge Pratt and Schwarzenegger Pratt with focusing largely on Special Olympics Unified Sports® and Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® programming, which fosters climates of acceptance and inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities in schools around the world.
The Special Olympics USA Games will be held in Orlando, Florida, June 5-12, 2022. The event is slated to be attended by 4,000 athletes, 10,000 volunteers and 125,000 fans.