July 27th, 2007
Mr. Miller of Florida. Madam Speaker, on behalf of the United States Congress, it is an honor for me to rise today to recognize Dr. Charlie McFarland for being honored with a President’s Call to Service Award from the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.
The award, presented by former quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, honors Dr. McFarland’s years of volunteer service. The majority of his efforts have been dedicated to the Special Olympics program which he not only created for Okaloosa County, but helped begin for the state of Florida and even the nation.
McFarland took his first group of disabled students to Special Olympics games in South Carolina in 1969. After seeing how beneficial the program was for that first group of 20 students, the school district applied for a charter from the Kennedy Foundation for the state of Florida. The charter was approved and in 1970 Florida held its first games with 20 counties participating.
Over the years, McFarland has taken every opportunity to raise greater awareness of the program and raise much needed funds for it. He has convinced such big-name artists as Kenny Rogers, Alabama, Reba McIntire, Glen Campbell, the Oak Ridge Boys and the late Lewis Gizzard to perform or support the local program, has successfully lobbied NASA and Congress to allow Col. Dick Covey to take the Special Olympics flag on the space shuttle Discovery, and has helped the special education Silver Sand School obtain both a new track and pool.
In 1993, Dr. McFarland was named one of the charter members of the Florida Special Olympics Hall of Fame, and has kept serving with the Special Olympics even after he retired as in educator in 1995.
Madam Speaker, on behalf of the United States Congress, I am proud to honor Dr. Charlie McFarland for his tireless contributions to the Special Olympics program