Amazon, Microsoft, and more Seattle-area businesses donate $7M to Special Olympics ahead of the 2018 games

UW President Ana Mari Cauce, Microsoft President Brad Smith, and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan discussion inclusion and the 2018 Special Olympics. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Seattle-area businesses — including Amazon, Boeing, and Microsoft — have given $7 million in cash and $2 million in in-kind donations to support the 2018 Special Olympics. Microsoft announced the donations at an event hosted its Redmond, Wash. campus Wednesday. Microsoft is the presenting sponsor of the games, which will be held in Seattle July 1-6.

Microsoft kicked off its two-day Ability Summit Wednesday with a series of speakers discussing the importance of inclusion of people with disabilities. Alaska Airlines, Kaiser Permanente, Starbucks, and REI also contributed funds to support the games.

Gov. Jay Inslee. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nicklesburg)

The agenda included a high-profile group of speakers, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Challenge Seattle CEO Christine Gregoire, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce, and Microsoft President Brad Smith.

“When we do a good job of creating an environment that is more inclusive for people with disabilities, it actually helps us create an environment that is more inclusive of everyone … What we’ve clearly learned is you have to make room for everybody to bring their best ideas into a conversation,” Smith said during a panel discussion with other regional leaders.

On Thursday, Microsoft will host a hiring fair focused on bringing more people with disabilities into the workforce. Amazon, Alaska Airlines, ATT, Starbucks, T-Mobile, and other companies will be represented at the fair.

“The truth is we all have abilities and disabilities,” Cauce said during the event Wednesday. “There aren’t these discrete categories of people with disabilities and then those that are able. We all have a mix of those things and what we want to do is create environments that bring out the best in us, that make us stronger because we’re working together across our various different abilities.”

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