Brooklyn Decker, the actress and supermodel, is now a global ambassador for the Special Olympics, and it’s all because of one woman: her aunt, Tara Moore.
“She was born without her corpus callosum, which connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain,” Decker said.
Because of that, Tara, now 40, is “very much like a 9 year-old,” Decker said in an interview with “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, adding: “that is, the most fun, free-spirited, wonderful 9-year-old you could ever know.”
As an ambassador for the Special Olympics World Games starting Saturday in Los Angeles, being an advocate for the improvement of the lives of the intellectually disabled is a mission that’s dear to Decker’s heart.
She says she’s seen the Special Olympics make a change in the life of her aunt, who has participated in the Special Olympics, in sports including tennis and basketball.
Oftentimes, people with intellectual disabilities don’t have their own community of friends or hobbies they can do on their own, she said.
“Special Olympics provides that for [Tara] and athletes like her,” she said.
Even though Tara was 13 years old when Decker was born, mentally and emotionally they both remained on the same page for several years. They were more like siblings than aunt and niece.
“I remember we’d steal dolls from each other very young, you know,” said Decker, 28. “I think it started changing when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I started realizing, ‘Oh, I’m growing out of certain things.’ And, ‘Oh, I’m coloring differently than Tara is.’ I was aware that something was different about Tara, something was special about her.”
Her aunt has taught her a great deal, Decker said, noting that being around someone with a disability teaches awareness that someone might otherwise not have.
Courtesy Brooklyn Decker PHOTO: Actress Brooklyn Decker has a personal motivation for her work on behalf of the Special Olympic World Games: Her aunt, Tara.
“I think people want to be tolerant and accepting and understanding, but until they’re exposed to it, they don’t know how to be,” Decker said. “And so Tara taught me that at a very young age.”
Decker and Tara also learned the effects of hurtful words.
Tessa Decker, Brooklyn’s mother, talked about a hearing a conversation between Tara and their mother.
“I remember Tara asking my mom, ‘Mom, am I ‘tarded’? That’s what she used to call it. And my mom said, ‘No Tara, you’re smart. And it was like, ‘Whoa. She’s hearing it from somewhere.’ And that gets at the heart,” she said.
Tara enjoys a full and active life, and is especially close to Brooklyn Decker’s husband, pro tennis player Andy Roddick.
“I think she worships my husband and loves him more than me,” Decker said, laughing. “I think she would choose Andy over me any day of the week.”