My Monday Mission Moment 11/16

Written by: Jim Schmutz

I would like to share with you my Monday Mission Moment (MMMM). So as not to bury the lead, have a look at this 10 second video featuring Bailey Mehwinney that I received via text message yesterday afternoon at 1:35 pm. It’s a simple message….Plunge with Me! To understand why it’s my MMMM read on.

SOMD athlete Bailey Mehwinney doing his virtual Plunge

Last night Bailey and his mom, Lynne and dad, Scott were featured in an athlete forum – Profiles in Courage – with the Maryland State Council Knights of Columbus that included over 20 Knights. In addition to reinforcing the transformative power of Special Olympics, last night’s meeting was intended to be a call to action to the Knights to register for the 2021 Plunge.

I met with Bailey and his parents on Friday to ensure that Bailey was comfortable with all the questions I planned to ask. At no point during our preparation did I ask Bailey to create a “Plunge” video. He just decided that he should do it and sent the video to me yesterday afternoon prior to last night’s forum. This simple act personifies the innate leadership that Bailey possesses. Throughout his life he has seized opportunities to lead.

Last night Bailey shared with the group that one of his greatest challenges in life is his speech and the fact that sometimes people have trouble understanding his messages. He explained that he has worked hard to speak slowly while trying to effectively enunciate his words. He also demonstrated his determination to succeed when he rattled off these lifetime accomplishments – safety patrol in elementary school, four year member of high school swim team which included the sportsmanship award as a freshmen along with being elected co-captain by teammates as a senior, homecoming king as a senior, alter server, member of the Knights and the list went on. Bailey has fully embraced and thrived in our SOMD Athlete Leadership program. As the St. Mary’s County program athlete representative to the Special Olympics Maryland Athlete Leadership Council, Bailey represents his fellow athletes on critical program issues. Bailey is a gift to us all, an example from which we all can learn…while he recognized that people might struggle to understand his spoken word, this 10 second video that he shared with me exemplifies how Bailey has grown into an influential communicator and exceptional leader.  And for that Bailey Mewhinney is my Monday Mission Moment.

More about Last Night…

Bailey was joined by Chris Dooley and his mom Peggy along with Jill Durbin her mom, Nancy and dad John. Each athlete provided additional, valuable insight on the transformative power of Special Olympics Maryland.

SOMD Upper Shore athlete Chris Dooley shared his story of perseverance and triumph at the 2015 World Summer Games in Los Angeles, where during the 500m kayak final his paddle snapped. He was able to re-connect it enough to continue paddling and finish third to capture a bronze medal. A Fourth Degree Knight, Chris spoke proudly of being a Knight and the strength he draws from his fellow Knights. He also delivered a short speech on perseverance demonstrating his courage in confronting diabetes. He wants to be a leader in making sure his fellow athletes are taking steps to monitor and take care of their health. Chris is 37 years old and thanks to his mom has been an athlete for the last 10 years. 

SOMD Montgomery County athlete Jill Durbin is 52 years young and has competed in Special Olympics Maryland for over 35 years. Jill told the Knights that Special Olympics is as important today as ever as it provides the best way for her to stay physically active and socially connected with her friends. Powerlifting was among Jill’s favorite sports until a hernia forced her to stop lifting. While COVID-19 has kept her out of the pool, she remains passionate about swimming and looks forward to resuming in-person practice in the spring. Her dad John is a member of the Knights of Columbus who has played a critical role in connecting the mission of SOMD with the Knights here in Maryland. Jill proudly serves as the athlete ambassador to Knights working with her dad to garner more support from the Knights.

With inspiration from these three athletes, the Forum concluded with a call to action for the Knights to sign up as Virtual Plungers to support Chris, Bailey, Jill and all of their fellow SOMD athletes.

If this Monday Mission Moment moved you, then like Bailey you can register for the 2021 Plunge with virtual and in-person options. Find all of the information about this year’s Plunge at