Alison Smith of Shelton Named Fairfield County 40 Under 40 Winner
Alison Smith of Shelton, center, is congratulated by her parents, Stephen and Bonnie Smith, after being recognized as the first person with an intellectual disability to achieve the annual 40 Under 40 Award from the Fairfield County Business Journal. She is a Global Messenger and Ambassador for the Special Olympics and works at Stern Village in Trumbull as an outstanding Kennedy Center client.
Every year the Fairfield County Business Journal recognizes 40 people under the age of 40 who are dedicated to personal and professional development as well as community involvement. According to the Business Journal “these exceptional people serve as role models for their peers and are motivated to succeed as leaders in their distinct field.”
For the first time in the history of this prestigious 40 Under 40 Competition, one of the 2015 winners included an individual with an intellectual disability.
Alison Smith of Shelton received thunderous applause and the only standing ovation of the evening when she was singled out for this prestigious regional award. She is a Global Messenger and Ambassador for the Special Olympics and works at Stern Village in Trumbull as an outstanding Kennedy Center client for the past eight years.
Alison excels as a leader in Special Olympics. She is intellectually disabled and makes the most of what she has every day. As a Global Messenger for Special Olympics, she speaks at corporate functions to spread the word that intellectually disabled people are just like everyone else.
“We are delighted 40 Under 40 has recognized the many achievements of Alison Smith, one our exemplary Kennedy Center clients,” said Martin D. Schwartz, President and CEO of The Kennedy Center. “We are extremely proud of her many business and volunteer accomplishments. Being a leader does not necessarily mean building a business or making a lot of money. It means making a difference.”
Smith has been a Special Olympics Athlete since 1996. She participated in the 1999 World Games as well as the 2006 and 2010 National Games. She traveled to the 2003 World Games in Dublin as a Global Messenger and filed reports on the exploits of Team Connecticut which were published on the Special Olympics Connecticut website.
Smith was in the inaugural class of Special Olympics Global Messengers and has spoken at countless corporate and civic events. She has also spoken at numerous Opening Ceremonies events for both the Winter and Summer Games. She has appeared in a number of PSAs that have been aired on NBC30 and has often been interviewed by the press on the benefits of participating in Special Olympics.
She was the Law Enforcement Torch Run Ambassador in 2010 and traveled to Calgary, Canada to represent Connecticut. She also was one of four Global Messengers to act as emcees for the 2009 Law Enforcement Torch Run International Conference held in Connecticut. Following the conference she filmed a PSA with Derek Poundstone and was featured on his website. Additionally she not only “talks the talk,” but literally “walks (runs) the walk,” having run in the past 10 torch runs in her hometown of Shelton.
Smith has great affection for the Shriver Family and was honored to be chosen as a reader at the service held in New Haven for Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She was the recipient of the Spirit of Life Award in 2005. She embodies the spirit of Special Olympics in her everyday life. She has raised thousands of dollars for Special Olympics Connecticut by organizing teams for the Westport Penguin Plunge and even taking the plunge herself.
When not competing, Smith works everyday as a housekeeper at Stern Village, an assisted living facility in Trumbull. She has made many friends among the elderly residents. She holds a regular job and works everyday to the best of her abilities. She consistently receives praise and admiration from her co-workers.
In June, 2013, she received a citation from the State of Connecticut for “competing with heart and determination and serving as an inspiration to her friends, family and peers.”
Her father Stephen Smith summed up the significance of this award best. “The daily support of The Kennedy Center has provided Alison with the skills set and confidence to succeed,” he said. “She has achieved more than our family has ever imagined. She is not your stereotypical 40 Under 40 winner. This groundbreaking achievement will certainly inspire others in Fairfield County to reach their fullest potential.”