Originally designed as a memorial tribute to his late father, AVSC was founded by record producer Jimmy Iovine who made a career of working with music icons including Stevie Nicks, and Tom Petty. Iovine’s spouse Vicki, a model, writer, and Special Olympics volunteer, suggested that the holiday album should benefit Special Olympics. The couple won the approval of Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver and a legacy was born.
Success from the StartThe first AVSC album included superstars such as Madonna, and U2, and was lauded by The New York Times as featuring "the heaviest lineup of big-name rock talent to appear on any record since We Are the World.” Co-producers Bobby Shriver, Vicki Iovine, and Paul Marshall (with Jimmy’s behind-the-scenes support) put out an album that everyone wanted to be on and everyone wanted to buy. Artists donated their time and talent, and producers and labels waived their fees. Special Olympics has disbursed funds generated from AVSC to Special Olympics Programs in need, through the Christmas Record Trust Grant Program.
Changing Lives through MusicEunice Kennedy Shriver felt strongly, as did the Iovines, that the funds raised through AVSC go directly to the growth of the Special Olympics Programs most in need. Disbursed in grants by the Special Olympics Christmas Record Trust, the monies raised play a crucial role in the lives of the least-advantaged Special Olympics athletes around the world where there are inaccurate and prejudiced views about people with intellectual disabilities.
Grants from the Christmas Record Trust have enabled Special Olympics to implement programs in such countries as Russia, China, and Uganda, and to seed funding to build new programs in places like Timor Leste, Cambodia, Laos, and Lesotho. Of 89 Special Olympics programs that receive Christmas Record grants, 25% are classified by the United Nations as operating in Least Developed Countries. In these countries, the need for outreach is critical, as many are unable to provide support for their citizens with intellectual disabilities. Right here in the United States, the funds raised through AVSC have been a lifeline for Special Olympics programs across America and have helped us launch programs for people with intellectual disabilities in urban areas such as New York City, Philadelphia, and New Orleans.
A Very Special Christmas has given Special Olympics the power to forever change lives. The series makes possible another kind of music: the rousing cheers of proud parents and friends, where once there was only the stifling silence of ignorance and fear.
To learn more please visit www.averyspecialchristmas.org.
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