This Mother’s Day, a Brighton mother and daughter are shining a national spotlight on Special Olympics.
Kerry Hincka and her daughter, Molly, 20, are stars in a national Proctor & Gamble campaign called "Thank You, Mom," designed to bring attention to Special Olympics athletes and the moms who support them.
The campaign includes a prime-time TV commercial, social media marketing, press junkets and the cover of last Sunday's brandSAVER circular inserted into newspapers across the country, including the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
"Our goal is to tell as many people about Special Olympics as we can and tell them about how fabulous it is," Kerry Hincka said. "Having a huge corporation like P&G taking a strong position with the athletes is just fantastic."
Molly Hincka, a graduate, runs track and field for Special Olympics Michigan Area 27, which encompasses Livingston County.
Among her many accomplishments, she has qualified for the Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece, this summer, where she will compete in the 5,000 meters, 3,000 meters and 4 x 400 relay for Team USA.
P&G, makers of familiar household brands like CoverGirl, Bounty, and Pampers, has been a major sponsor of Special Olympics for 30 years. The company discovered Molly Hincka and her mom through a national casting call.
"It was a huge surprise to us and a great honor," Kerry Hincka said.
A touching ad
The focal point of the P&G campaign is a powerful one-minute commercial that opens with a close-up of Molly Hincka's feet running on a track, and pans up to her face. Then, a photo montage flashes back through her life, showing Hincka swimming, skiing, playing and winning medals in the Special Olympics.
The spot is narrated by Kerry Hincka and ends with Molly as an infant, being lifted into the air by her mom.
"I never saw the things my child couldn't do. I only imagined what she could," Hincka says in the ad, which has aired during hit shows such as American Idol and Extreme Home Makeover. (Click on the with this story to watch the spot).
In support of the campaign, Molly was invited to throw out the first pitch at a recent Cincinatti Reds game, and traveled to New York City on Thursday to appear on Today. Although her segment was pre-empted by President Barack Obama's visit to Ground Zero, she met Dr. Tim Shriver, the president and CEO of Special Olympics. At her side every step of the way was her mom.
"She’s a pretty amazing person and I love her," Molly said. "If I didn’t have her I wouldn’t be the person I am now."
'A family affair'
The Hincka family has lived in Brighton for 17 years, and Molly has become a familiar sight to neighbors.
"She runs about six miles a day," Kerry said. "We live in the Maltby Walnut Hills sub and she runs to the bread store and back. People see her running all over town."
Molly is one of Hincka's four children. Jake, 22, is in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Drumm, NY; Charlotte, also a Special Olympics athlete, is a senior at Brighton High School; and Danny, 10, is in fourth grade at St. Patrick's School.
Molly was born with an intellectual disability and wore leg braces as a child. Doctors predicted she might never walk, yet at Brighton High School, she ran cross-country and track and field all four years, earning a varsity letter and serving as a team captain her senior year.
"Her freshman year she finished last every race but just kept on going," Kerry said. "The team rallied around her and I think she was an inspiration for the girls."
A worthy cause
Molly began participating in Special Olympics at age 8, and since then the whole family has gotten involved.
Kerry, who works part-time as a children's program specialist at the and runs the Mother Goose Cafe every Friday, coaches Special Olympics swimming out of Hartland High School. Her husband, Jerry, an environmental consultant for Antea Group, coaches Special Olympics basketball out of the Hartland building.
"It’s just a family affair and that’s what makes it so great," Kerry Hincka said. "It’s something our whole family has done forever—for the past 12 years anyway."
The Hinckas' involvement in the P&G campaign coincides with Special Olympics Michigan's 40th anniversary, and Hincka is using the opportunity to highlight the local organization as well.
"We have an extremely active program run by volunteer coaches," Kerry said. "For parents who have children with cognitive impairments, Special Olympics is a wonderful opportunity to compete in athletic events, and raise their own level of personal health and fitness."
Special Olympics has taken Kerry and Molly Hincka across the nation, and now they've got their sights set on Athens. They're chronicling their journey to the World Games in Support Molly Hincka—Greece is the Word.
"I’m very excited and I'm going to win a medal!” Molly said.
For every "like," share, or comment on its 'Thank You, Mom' Facebook page, P&G will donate $1 to Special Olympics Team USA, up to $250,000. Click here to participate.