Investing in Our Communities: Abby Abel and Special Olympics Indiana
From high school basketball standout to Purdue basketball team captain to senior associate in KSM’s Audit & Assurance Services Group, Abby Abel has experienced plenty of change over the past decade. One thing that’s remained constant, though, is her commitment to Special Olympics Indiana and the affiliated Champions Together program.
Special Olympics Indiana, part of the global Special Olympics movement, provides sports training and opportunities for athletic competition to children and adults with intellectual disabilities across Indiana.
An Opportunity Becomes a Deep Passion
Abby’s relationship with Special Olympics Indiana began when the organization partnered with the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) to create “Champions Together.” Champions Together promotes servant leadership among high school student athletes while advancing the Play Unified movement, which combines athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same playing field.
To help launch Champions Together, an IHSAA athlete was needed to join with a Special Olympics Indiana athlete to represent the new partnership on a state, national, and international level. Abby jumped at the opportunity to interview for the two-year commitment and was chosen during her sophomore year in high school. She quickly became passionate about the Play Unified movement and working with Special Olympics Indiana athletes, and she’s been deeply involved in the organization ever since. What started out as a two-year commitment has turned into a life-long passion for helping to break down barriers for those with intellectual disabilities.
Abby enjoys sharing her passion for Special Olympics Indiana with others. For anyone interested in getting involved, Abby says she’d encourage them to jump right in and lend their support to these athletes. “As soon as you get involved in Special Olympics Indiana and you see the light on the athletes’ faces, seeing what they love to do every day and how they celebrate their abilities, I think you’d fall in love with the movement as much as I have.”
What I always gained from my work with Special Olympics was that [the athletes] didn’t really care who won or lost; they were just happy to have the opportunity to play the game with the people they loved.
– Abby Abel, Audit & Assurance Services Group
For Abby, it’s not just volunteering that makes her involvement in Special Olympics Indiana so rewarding. She has always believed in giving back to the community through service, and chose to pursue a career at KSM in part because the firm’s values align with her own. But the experience with Special Olympics has been personally meaningful in other ways as well.
For the Love of the Game
“The most profound memory I have of working with Special Olympics athletes is just how much they just love their sport and love life,” Abby shares. “I think a lot of times we get bogged down in the wins and the losses. Especially here in Indiana, it’s often all about the competition and winning the state title.” But the dedicated players she volunteers with bring a different attitude to the game.
Throughout Abby’s high school and college basketball years and in her accounting career too, her relationship with these athletes has helped her remember to celebrate the little things and play for the love of the game. “What I always gained from my work with Special Olympics was that [the athletes] didn’t really care who won or lost; they were just happy to have the opportunity to play the game with the people they loved,” Abby explains. That attitude resonated with Abby and kept her grounded throughout her basketball career, she says.
“As I moved through my basketball career, I didn’t get too caught up in the winning and losing and my stats. It was all about getting to play the game I love and just doing the best I could out there for my team.” That’s a perspective Abby still embraces today when competing with fellow KSMers during pickup games.
But she knows that even in Indiana, basketball isn’t a consuming passion for everyone. What really matters, says Abby, is that people find their own way to make a difference and create a positive impact in their communities. “I’d encourage everyone at KSM to go out there, find something they’re passionate about and get involved in the community. I think being able to leave people and places better than we found them is super important, and we don’t always realize the impact we can have on people’s lives.”
We're Looking for
At KSM, you’ll be encouraged to find your purpose, exercise your creativity, and drive innovation forward.