Volunteer for Special Olympics
Volunteers are the backbone of the Special Olympics movement. They are coaches, trainers, officials, event organizers, fundraisers and managers. They can also be unified partners -- playing alongside athletes with intellectual disabilities -- or fans cheering in the stands.
Helpful Hint. Special Olympics athlete Erin Thompson of Virginia gets pre-race instructions from volunteer race official Bob McCormick.
Rewarding for All
Our volunteers are all ages and their commitments can range from an afternoon to a lifetime. From China to the United States, Ghana to Singapore, Australia to Paraguay, Ireland to India, our volunteers are helping to bring out the champion in every Special Olympics athlete.
Special Olympics would not exist today — and could not have been created -- without the time, energy, commitment and enthusiasm of our volunteers. We owe so much to these millions of people who find the time to make the world a better place.
If you want to be a volunteer, get in touch with Special Olympics near you.
About Intellectual Disability
Special Olympics is a global movement of people who want to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. But what are intellectual disabilities? Learn More
Spirit of Giving
Special Olympics is about transforming lives, including your own. It’s about a spirit of giving and teamwork. It's about making your commune ty and neighborhood a more welcoming and accepting place for people of all abilities.
It’s also about creating lifelong friendships and finding a new way of thinking about others.
Our volunteers include the local coach who works with athletes many times a week. Or the people who help organize and plan our World Games every two years. Or the photographers who take the most amazing pictures of our athletes in action.
All around the world, Special Olympics training, competitions and other events are happening 365 days a year. There is always something interesting to do!
All Ages, All Interests
We have seen dramatic growth in teens and young adults volunteering with Special Olympics. These volunteers include students taking part in school-based groups like Special Olympics Project UNIFY and Special Olympics College. Their enthusiasm, dedication and creativity are hard to beat!
One of our college leaders began volunteering on a whim when she was in the second grade. She calls that "the best decision of my life."
Charles Scott of the Special Olympics Illinois Board of Directors has been a longtime volunteer. Over the years, he has learned that Special Olympics is a place that deeply appreciates its volunteers, their spirit and dedication. "You know you’re really helping people who are differently able than others," he says. "That’s a gratifying experience for us all.”
Stories About Our Volunteers
January 29, 2015 | North America: Canada
In my high school a fellow class mate of mine was hit with a dodgeball and went into a coma.. he did not wake up for a few months and when he did everyone was over joyed!View Story ▼In my high school a fellow class mate of mine was hit with a dodgeball and went into a coma.. he did not wake up for a few months and when he did everyone was over joyed! As he slowly recovered he has lost all of his memories and did not remember anyone when he returned to school in a mobilized seating devise. Everyone remembered him but for some reason there were students who would laugh at him for waving hello to them in the hallway so a couple of my friends and i all made sure to wave and yell hello at him everytime we saw him in the hall way! take home message: inform others not to use the R-word or poke and make fun of others who are just like you and have mild changes.
About K:college studentView less ▲
January 19, 2015 | North America: Jamaica
Special Olympics Jamaica Floorball Goalkeeper Gets “Special Instructions”
By Victor L. Brown, SOJ Floorball Coordinator
Greg instructing Oshain
Oshain Daley is a Special Olympics Jamaica athlete who will benefit from resources that have been arranged by the Jamaica Floorball Association (JFA) to be on-island until March 2015.View Story ▼Oshain Daley is a Special Olympics Jamaica athlete who will benefit from resources that have been arranged by the Jamaica Floorball Association (JFA) to be on-island until March 2015. Gregoire Schneider, (former Goalkeeper for UHC Biel Seeland and former President of UC Corcelles-Cormodrèche in Switzerland) has agreed to provide some observations and instruction to Oshain to improve his Goalkeeping skills and techniques Gregoire has already observed that “Oshain has a good basic positioning and we’ll be working on helping him to keep it when he is moving in front of on-coming players. I would also say that Oshain has good reflexes”.
“This is a great opportunity for Oshain to get first hand expert advice to improve his skills. We thank the JFA for bringing this resource on-island. Gregoire’s length of stay is timely as we are looking towards the 2015 Canada Cup. With this direct intervention we are sure that Oshain will improve on the good showing at the 2014 event.” Wayne Roberts, Assistant Coach, Youth Development.
About Victor L. Brown, SOJ Floorball Coordinator:I've been coordinating the development of SOJ Floorball for 3-years. We have traditional athletes (to include wheelchair) and a Unified team that has played at the 2014 Canada CupView less ▲
January 15, 2015 | North America: Illinois
We Need To Stop The r-word talk to you family friends you co-workers and pastor
By Damian Ellis
We need everybody to say the r-word is not good for everybody. Let's take a stand by putting the r-word out for not just one person but all of us. Let's make everybody be happy. Thank you.View Story ▼We need everybody to say the r-word is not good for everybody. Let's take a stand by putting the r-word out for not just one person but all of us. Let's make everybody be happy. Thank you.
About Damian Ellis:I like to volunteer for special Olympics in Chicago prayer for everybody be a access living captain volunteer at other like world sport Chicago, Bank of America, Chicago marathons View less ▲
December 24, 2014 | Why I Support Special Olympics
Friends before Coach
By Tara Power
2010 came as any other year would, with the promise I would accomplish and change and become a better me. The only thing different about 2010 is that my life was about to change forever.View Story ▼2010 came as any other year would, with the promise I would accomplish and change and become a better me. The only thing different about 2010 is that my life was about to change forever. I started work with a young girl my age and we became the best of friends, sisters you could say, who by chance was also a Special Olympics athlete. After only a short amount of time I became a volunteer, only a year later I became a coach. I laughed, I cried, I've had the best time of my life. I quickly came to realize that while I helped the Special Olympics athletes, they were helping me. I had new meaning to my life, I had another reason to wake up in the morning. I now had purpose, and I belonged to something much bigger. A family. I thank God every day that he has given me the chance to make a difference in so many lives, and I thank him for giving me the chance to become the friend of the one person who would change my life forever.
Coach with SOCB
Head coach Young Athletes Corner Brook
About Tara Power:View less ▲
December 24, 2014 | North America: Illinois
The True Definition of Sport
By Dan Laird
In 1968 my mother, a special education teacher in Illinois, brought four of her kids to the first Special Olympics in Chicago. From there, her participation in Special Olympics grew quickly.View Story ▼In 1968 my mother, a special education teacher in Illinois, brought four of her kids to the first Special Olympics Games in Chicago. From there, her participation in Special Olympics grew quickly. She put together a basketball team and became the first female basketball coach in the state of Illinois. She also started the first co-ed team when she included two girls, not to make a case for equality, but simply because she had two girls who were so good she saw no reason to deny them their chance to shine. In the early days, it was hard to get resources from her own school district, so we became her staff. Mom had me as a scorekeeper, then a referee, then a chaperone for her team. I truly enjoyed my time with her students. They defined joy, teamwork, sportsmanship, and friendship in ways no other group had done at that time or since. I have told many of my friends that if they want to see the true definition of sport – done for the love of the game – watch a Special Olympics event.
About Dan Laird:I have been a volunteer for Special Olympics for many years.View less ▲
December 12, 2014 | North America: Illinois
The Boy Who Changed the Way I Think
By Maddie Thill
When I was 11, I joined my school's Best Buddies program. I was matched with Victor, a 10 year old boy who couldn't speak, and was only learning how to walk. We instantly became best friends.View Story ▼When I was 11, I joined my school's Best Buddies program. I was matched with Victor, a 10 year old boy who couldn't speak, and was only learning how to walk. We instantly became best friends. Whenever I had a free period, i would see him. We would work on walking. I would hold him up with a walker and special straps and we walk walk up and down the hallways. students in my grade would pass by and mutter things like "retard" or "Why does she hang out with him?" It hurt me, and I assume, it hurt Victor too. So, my school joined the campaign. Many people at my school are more educated on the effect of their words. I Pledge for Victor.
About Maddie Thill:I am an advocate for Best Buddies and Special Olympics. I'm a unified bocce ball partner. I go to Creekside Middle school and I'm 14. View less ▲
December 01, 2014 | North America: Canada
I am a student assistant
I have worked with many special children over the past 25 years and love them all they are all special and unique people, they are all smart in different ways and should be treated better than using words like retarded its a awful work and I would never use it on these children. I think people shoView Story ▼I have worked with many special children over the past 25 years and love them all they are all special and unique people, they are all smart in different ways and should be treated better than using words like retarded its a awful work and I would never use it on these children. I think people should get to know them first before they pass judgement on what they are like.
About Angela:I am a student assistant and have been for over 25 years now and love my job. It's a rewarding job to do.View less ▲
About Special Olympics in North America
Your Donation Matters
Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.
Volunteer Near You
Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!