Helena Special Olympian, Tester Talk Inclusivity

Senator meets with athlete Cody Kuhlman about supporting people with intellectual disabilities

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester recently met with representatives from the Montana Special Olympics to discuss the program’s positive impacts and identify ways Congress can help fight discrimination in athletics, health care, employment and education.

“The Special Olympics empowers athletes of all ages and abilities,” Tester said. “I was glad to visit with Cody about ways to continue supporting this program – which is critical if we want Montana to continue being the Last Best Place for everyone.”

Helena’s own Cody Kuhlman spearheaded the meeting. Kuhlman has been a Special Olympian for 10 years, competing in basketball, bowling, and sprinting. In addition to serving as a Health Messenger for the Special Olympics, Kuhlman also works at Walmart and is the mascot for the Helena Bighorns. He also participates in Special Olympics initiatives like Healthy Athletes, which provides free screenings to people with intellectual disabilities.

Kuhlman spoke about the positive impact the Special Olympics has had on his life, not only helping him become a better athlete, but keeping him healthy, making him a better employee, and allowing him to be better member of his community. He also asked Congress to increase funding for the organization in Fiscal Year 2020.

“I think inclusive health is important because if I am healthy, I can exercise more often and longer,” Kuhlman said. “If I am healthy I can be successful in Special Olympics competitions.”

Tester has long been an advocate for inclusivity. He sponsored the IDEA Full Funding Act last Congress which requires the federal government to help public schools provide accommodations to students with disabilities. He is also sponsoring the Disability Integration Act this Congress to fight the common practice of forcing people who need Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) into institutions.