As development director, Thibaudeau is responsible for raising almost $5 million annually in support of the year-round programs of Special Olympics Washington. “Over the Edge,” one of the biggest events in western Washington, took place on August 10 and 11. More than 125 people rappelled down a 40-story building in the heart of Seattle. Right in the mix was Sarah Thibaudeau, climbing over the edge for the third time, seen here on video [LINK]. Together, they raised more than $150,000.
After graduating with a B.A. in elementary education, Thibaudeau worked for educational resource companies, providing materials for children, families, and teachers. She returned to Seattle University to receive her Master’s in Public Administration to “move into the social service area that I was raised in and give back to the community.”
Many MPA students work in the nonprofit sector while enrolled, and Thibaudeau benefited as much from the coursework as she did from her classmates.
“I broadened my perspective,” she said. “I gained insight into how a nonprofit is supported by and supports the community.”
That perspective from her classmates was invaluable as Thibaudeau joined the ASTAR Center in Seattle while getting her degree. Thibaudeau planned the center’s first auction, raising about $200,000 for comprehensive services for families affected by autism. She went on to direct the annual campaigns for Childhaven, an organization providing services for abused and neglected children before moving into her present position with Special Olympics.
“Our staff train the team coaches, arrange tournaments, and coordinate activities with a cadre of more than 8,000 volunteers,” she said. “Our development activities support athletic programs in every season and in every county for people of all ages.
Special Olympics Washington and Seattle University have a close relationship. Alumni and staff serve on the board of directors, alumni work as staff and volunteers, and students participate in the newly formed Special Olympics club on campus.
“Seattle University is an institution that is so much a part of this city, and you only have to look at the people working for our organization, as volunteers or paid staff, to see the impact the school has on our community,” she added. “Whether an alum is going over the edge of a 40-story building or a student is taking the plunge in the cold winter waters of Lake Washington, we are all working together for the athletes.”