Through 29 projects over 12 months, Brightspot impacted more than 5,735 lives and provided employees with over 550 opportunities to give back.
From the playing fields in Orlando at the Special Olympics USA Games to classrooms across the country and so much more, Brightspot positively impacted thousands of lives in 2022 through its mission activities. This success was driven by the growth of established partnerships, forging connections with new nonprofit organizations and the return of many traditional events that were put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through 29 projects over 12 months, Brightspot impacted almost 6,000 lives and provided employees with over 550 opportunities to give back in our communities.
Supporting the inclusion revolution
Last year was an exciting one for our partnership with Special Olympics. Not only did 2022 mark the return of large events like the Brightspot Unified Challenge and the Special Olympics USA Games, but Special Olympics' digital footprint grew with the launch of multiple new and migrated sites and the organization's first mobile app.
Brightspot Unified Challenge tees off
The Brightspot Unified Challenge made its much-awaited return in 2022 in conjunction with the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am. The Brightspot Unified Challenge is a multiday golf event that brings together championship-level golfers from First Tee and Special Olympics along with wounded veterans to play as teammates in a two-day tournament.
On Sunday, May 1, the group of golfers gathered at Brightspot headquarters for a welcome reception to meet their teammates. The two-day Challenge kicked off with the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am the next day at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, where golfers had the opportunity to play alongside PGA Tour professionals. On Tuesday, players competed in a team match-play event at The Club of Creighton Farms, followed by a closing party at Top Golf to celebrate the week and the relationships that had been formed.
To me, participating in the Brightspot Unified Challenge was an opportunity to be involved in, hands down, the best golf tournament on the planet. I went into this as not only a wounded veteran, but also as a father of a child with special needs. The love and support that people showed me was incredible. It was amazing listening to people’s stories and realizing that there are so many opportunities out there for my daughter. I was moved to tears more than once with joy and pride. I have definitely made friends that I will have for life from this event.
Over the course of the two-day tournament, 54 players participated, including 12 high-school students from First Tee, 12 wounded veterans and 12 Special Olympics golfers from around the country. Each team consisted of one member from each of these groups, rounded out by one additional Brightspot partner, customer or employee.
While on the surface it appears to be just a golf event, the Brightspot Unified Challenge is much more. Throughout the two days of competition, differences fade away, friendships form and players realize there are more things that unite than divide us.
Learn more about the Brightspot Unified Challenge here.
Shining as one at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games
In June, a group of 14 Brightspot employees descended on Orlando, Florida, for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. This was the first Special Olympics marquee event since the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi. Over the course of the week, Brightspot volunteers became an extension of Special Olympics’ leadership team, helping facilitate numerous activities.
For the majority of the week, the Brightspot team served on the Arena Award Operations team, managing all of the backstage and front-of-house activities on three different stages within the AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. With ceremonies happening simultaneously across the three stages, the team was challenged to communicate between backstage and front-of-house to ensure all ceremonies ran smoothly. The Brightspot team helped athletes shine and bask in the glory by facilitating over 1,000 award ceremonies over the course of the games.
Learn more about the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games here.
Supporting Special Olympics locally
In addition to helping out in Orlando, Brightspot also continued the tradition of supporting Special Olympics locally.
In March, led by Brightspot employee and decorated Special Olympics athlete Rose Pleskow, the company celebrated Spread the Word Day. Throughout the day, employees had the opportunity to play an inclusion-themed game of bingo and sign a virtual banner, pledging to promote acceptance and inclusion of all people in a variety of ways.
In September, a group of volunteers took to the pitch to support Special Olympics Virginia’s fall soccer tournament. In between ball running and scorekeeping for multiple games, Brightspot volunteers also had plenty of time to cheer on the athletes as they competed on a sunny fall day.
We closed the year by hosting our first Unified Bowling night since 2019. On November 2, 16 Brightspot employees paired with local Special Olympics bowlers for a night of camaraderie and friendly competition, complete with pizza and wings. The event provided Brightspot employees the opportunity to see the power and joy of Unified Sports first hand.
Digitizing the inclusion revolution
In addition to supporting Special Olympics’ message of inclusion with in-person events, Brightspot continues to serve as its digital partner, helping the global organization expand its reach through a variety of digital initiatives.
One of the biggest highlights of 2022 was the launch of a new website for Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 ahead of this summer’s World Games, which will take place from June 17 to 25 in Germany. This beautiful, custom-built website will allow the Berlin organizing committee to promote the World Games, share important news and recruit the thousands of volunteers who will bring the event to life. Over the course of the World Games, the website will also provide participants, volunteers and spectators with all of the information they need to make the most of their experience.
Building on our successful integration with Special Olympics Games Management System, SO Connect, during the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, Brightspot launched a new results platform providing Special Olympics a dedicated site to show results from marquee events, including World Games, USA Games and other international competitions, such as the 2022 Unified Cup.
Throughout 2022, Special Olympics partnered with Brightspot to enhance and expand the content available on its flagship website, SpecialOlympics.org. This work included building out a new MyHealth section, which features a library of health resources and information for athletes and caregivers. Brightspot designed and developed a number of interactive custom modules for this new section to create a more interactive and accessible experience for users.
Brightspot also launched a new section for Special Olympics’ Youth & Schools initiative. A key component of this new section was the migration of over 400 youth projects from a legacy platform to Brightspot, which will allow users to search this rich database of inspiring projects from around the world.
In 2022, Special Olympics partnered with Brightspot to launch a new mobile app, Generation Unified, that engages and connects youth from around the world who are dedicated to building a more inclusive community. The app's content is powered by Brightspot, and it was Special Olympics' first use of Brightspot’s editorial content types and GraphQL API.
The very busy 2022 concluded with the launch of a redesigned site for A Very Special Christmas to promote the holiday albums that have raised over $100 million for Special Olympics over the past 35 years and the artists who made it possible.
Helping the next generation soar
Through a combination of new and continuing events with Buzz Aldrin Elementary School and a special partnership with DonorsChoose at the end of 2022, Brightspot remained dedicated to serving youth locally and across the country.
Making a difference at Buzz Aldrin Elementary School
In 2022, our partnership with Buzz Aldrin Elementary School in Reston, Virginia, continued to thrive.
After providing virtual mentorship to a handful of students over the past two years, Brightspot worked with Aldrin’s leadership and teachers to pilot a new, in-person group mentorship program that launched earlier this school year.
Beginning in November, a team of nine Brightspot mentors began supporting a fifth-grade math class with two to three mentors visiting the class each week. The mentor team has had the opportunity to help students with fractions, multiplication tables and long division. The consistent weekly presence of the Brightspot mentors has not only helped these students learn math, but it also introduced these students to inspiring role models who are demonstrating the importance of giving back.
In addition to this new mentorship program, Brightspot also continued participating in several popular annual events at Aldrin.
At the end of April, in conjunction with Staff Appreciation Week, a group of Brightspot employees traveled to Aldrin to complete a number of beautification projects across the school grounds. This included landscaping around the school’s sign, filling multiple large planters on the property and a spring cleaning of the school’s community garden. In addition to this beautification project, employees also donated new or gently used books in support of Aldrin Reads, a program that helps children in the Reston area build their home libraries.
In August, Brightspot hosted another back-to-school drive to benefit Aldrin’s students in need. The generosity of Brightspot was on full display, with 44 employees filling 56 backpacks with school supplies to set students up for success in the coming year.
I can't begin to tell you how much this will help so many of our families. We've already received a record number of requests for assistance this year. We couldn't provide the support without your assistance—you all are making a bigger difference than you can imagine. Thanks for being such a great partner.
Celebrating our customers one classroom at a time
Brightspot found other ways to support youth and families throughout 2022. Over the last few years, Brightspot has begun weaving its mission into the end-of-year customer gift, and company gifts in both 2021 and 2022 were focused on youth.
For the 2021 end-of-year customer gift, Brightspot donated 100 bikes to local children on behalf of each customer. After gathering to assemble the bikes as a company at the end of 2021 and the beginning of the new year, in January 2022, they were donated to children at Aldrin Elementary School, YMCA Calomiris, the Katherine Hanley Family Shelter and Doorways.
In 2022, Brightspot partnered with DonorsChoose, a website that makes it easier for the public to support teachers in need across the country, to sponsor classroom projects on behalf of each of the company’s customers and partners. Throughout the month of December, Brightspot’s project teams worked together to select teachers and classroom projects that were local to their customers, and in many cases, aligned with the customers’ missions. In the end, Brightspot supported 90 classroom projects across the country, making a difference in the lives of thousands of teachers and students.
Caring for our nation’s finest
In 2022, Brightspot continued to grow its partnership with Boulder Crest. Boulder Crest is an organization with a mission of helping veterans, first responders and their families struggling with PTSD to rediscover hope, purpose and a belief in a future that is truly worth living.
In January, Brightspot employees traveled to the Bluemont, Virginia, campus to help the organization reset at the start of the year. The team took down and stored all of the holiday decorations and helped clean and organize cabins prior to an upcoming family retreat.
The Brightspot team returned on July 11 to help with a variety of different summer projects at Boulder Crest. Volunteers weeded the property, cleaned the lodge, power-washed Boulder Crest’s buses and vans and helped them prepare for the mailing of their annual report.
Brightspot returned again after Thanksgiving with a team of 20 volunteers, who helped decorate the lodge and cabins for the veterans and their families who would be staying there during the holiday season.
Continuing support for those in need
Brightspot employees also continued the mission of feeding and serving our neighbors in need in 2022.
A group of Brightspot employees traveled to Shirlington warehouse of the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) on two different occasions in the winter and fall to help sort and bag food donations for AFAC's weekly clients.
We also continued our in-office tradition of packing lunches to feed those experiencing homelessness. In the end, we gathered on three occasions to pack and donate over 300 lunches to feed our neighbors in need through Cornerstones Embry Rucker Shelter.
This year Brightspot also started a new partnership with the Greater DC Diaper Bank, an organization that provides basic baby needs and personal hygiene products to families across the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. In May, a group of volunteers traveled to the organization's warehouse in Silver Spring to help sort and repack diapers for distribution, tour the facility and learn about how the need for diapers in the local area has grown as a result of the pandemic. Brightspot looks forward to returning to volunteer at their warehouse in 2023.
Summer 2022 meant another fun summer at YMCA’s Camp Letts, as Brightspot once again sponsored 24 weeks of camp for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. This year, remote Brightspot employees helped with the scholarship application review process and selected which children would get the scholarship from various YMCA branches in the area.
To close out a year of giving, Brightspot employees came together for one of the company's favorite traditions, Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, which provides holiday gifts to deserving children in need. In the end, 90 employees adopted 125 Angels, providing them with clothes and toys to help them celebrate the holiday season. In addition to sponsoring this group of angels, a team of 16 volunteers traveled to the Salvation Army warehouse on December 16 to help distribute the gifts to thousands of local families.
Looking forward to 2023
Moving ahead, we look forward to building on the momentum of this past year. We plan to continue to spread the mission of inclusion with the expansion of the Brightspot Unified Challenge and by sending a team of volunteers to the 2023 World Games in Berlin next summer. We'll also be growing our mission calendar and creating localized remote mission opportunities for employees in Brightspot hubs, such as Chicago and Austin. Only one thing is for certain: exciting things are coming in 2023!