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
July 29, 2014 | North America: Canada
I have a cousin David who has a mental disability. I hang out with him and his family on multiple occasions per year. Fortunately I was able to avoid any rude altercation, until one day.View Story ▼I have a cousin David who has a mental disability. I hang out with him and his family on multiple occasions per year. Fortunately I was able to avoid any rude altercation, until one day.
We were at the Eaton Centre in Toronto and he was being silly and I was joking with him and making him laugh (because he loves to laugh!). Then some guy and his girlfriend passed by me and I heard him whisper, "Man, what a [r-word],".
I'm not a fighter. Nor do I create arguments that lead to fighting. I never get in people's faces...but this time I did. Something inside me just snapped when I heard him use the word with disgust.
I called him over. They turned around and he came up to me. He said "What's your problem?". I said "You." "Why? What did I do, you little punk?" He asked. I looked him straight in the eye "Use that r-word one more time and I cannot guarantee your safety. If you use it, fine, do it at home where I can't hear you." And walked.
About JL:I have a strong dislike for people who use the r-word.View less ▲
July 29, 2014 | North America: Ohio
PEOPLE SAYING THE R WORD
By JOSH WATSON
Hi, my name is Josh Watson. I have special needs. I've heard the r word for the wrong reason. In fact I've been called the r word so many times.View Story ▼Hi, my name is Josh Watson. I have special needs. I've heard the r word for the wrong reason. In fact I've been called the r word so many times. In fact my parents used to call me the r word. In fact, it's getting really really annoying. I am very annoyed by it. I have friends with disabilities. Some people call them the r word. People have called me the r word at school events. I'm sick and tired of hearing the r word. It's not very respectful to people with disabilities. Nobody wants to hear it.
About JOSH WATSON:I am outgoing. I am very smart about sports. I love hanging out with people with disabilities. I love helping out the staff at Camp Allyn, Cane Run Farm. View less ▲
July 23, 2014 | Africa: Malawi
Malawi prepares for Los Angeles Games
By Peter Kanjere
Special Olympic Malawi director Felix Chisowa. Malawi athletes training.
Special Olympics Malawi holds its 2014 national games in capital city Lilongwe from August 28 to 29 2014 in preparations for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, the United States.View Story ▼
Special Olympics Malawi holds its 2014 national games in capital city Lilongwe from August 28 to 29 2014 in preparations for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, the United States.
The Lilongwe games will see 180 athletes from 14 districts taking part in athletics, table tennis and soccer sporting activities in a bid to make the grade for the Malawi national team for next year's games in the States.
“It is with great pride that we stand ready to host our 2014 Special Olympics Malawi games. Please join us in supporting our athletes as they compete for the honour of representing our great nation at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles where our athletes will compete in athletics," Special Olympics Malawi director Felix Chisowa said.
Apart from the usual Special Olympics activities, the national event will also feature a national unified sport where we combine people with and without intellectual disabilities to play.
During the recent Special Olympics World Summer games that took place in Athens Greece from June 19, 2011 to July 4, 2011, Malawi was represented by five athletes who competed in athletics/track and field (long and high jump. 400, 200 and 100 meters racing) and won three gold medals, one bronze and three Silver medals.
The Malawi team will be hoping to replicate the incredible success of 2011. The two sporting activities that the athletes will compete at the 2015 Would Summer Games include athletics, and table tennis.
About Peter Kanjere:
I am a sports journalist, 35, based in Malawi, Africa.
I am also president of Sports Writers Association of Malawi.View less ▲
July 23, 2014 | Latin America: Panamá
Future Professionals Join Special Olympics Panama
By Maryorie Patiño Jaén
This past month, Special Olympics received approximately 48 new volunteers that joined our Movement in hopes of changing and improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.View Story ▼This past month, Special Olympics received approximately 48 new volunteers that joined our Movement in hopes of changing and improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Panama organized a training session for students of Santa Maria la Antigua University (USMA) and of American University (UAM). In addition, five Early Stimulation specialists will participate in a training next month to become trainers of the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program.
About Maryorie Patiño Jaén:Director of Public Awareness of Special Olympics PanamaView less ▲
July 14, 2014 | North America: North Carolina
Longtime Volunteer Makes Anticipated Return to Special Olympics
By Madeline Weathers
To say this volunteer is passionate about Special Olympics would be an understatement. Public Relations Officer Walter J. Scott of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office is a longtime volunteer who has dedicated his time to Special Olympics for over 10 years.View Story ▼To say this volunteer is passionate about Special Olympics would be an understatement. Public Relations Officer, Walter J. Scott of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office is a longtime volunteer who has dedicated his time to Special Olympics for over 10 years. It was no surprise to see him beaming with pride as he took part in the awards ceremonies of the 2014 Special Olympics NC Summer Games.
About Madeline Weathers:I am the Special Olympics North Carolina communications intern.View less ▲
July 12, 2014 | North America: Texas
Meeting Eunice in 1999
By Julia Scott
Eunice asking me questions about my thoughts on Special Olympics.
I had the privilege of meeting Eunice when I took 4 athletes to JC Penney corporate office in Dallas where she was receiving an award in 1999.View Story ▼I had the privilege of meeting Eunice when I took 4 athletes to JCPenney corporate office in Dallas where she was receiving an award in 1999. Her interaction with the athletes was awesome to see first hand. She asked me various questions about my involvement in Special Olympics and I was so in awe of meeting her I had trouble thinking straight enough to get sensible answers out - but I did. She was an amazing woman.
About Julia Scott:I have been involved in Special Olympics for 29 years. I am on the Area SMT, a Key volunteer for Area & State & Head of Delegation for a local team.View less ▲
July 10, 2014 | North America: New York
Stop the Use of the R-Word!!!!!
By Julianna V
Working with these amazing kids all these years has taught me so much about how disrespectful and degrading the r-word is! The people with these disabilities are capable of so much more than people think they are.View Story ▼For over 5 years now, I have been volunteering at an organization, Buddy Ball. Buddy Ball is a program where people volunteer to assist or teach children with special needs with playing sports such as soccer, track, and basketball. Working with these amazing kids all these years has taught me so much about how disrespectful and degrading the r-word is! The people with these disabilities are capable of so much more than people think they are. These people are intelligent, sweet, caring, and so much more!! I really would love it if these awesome people could be appreciated more for who they are. If I do hear someone using the r-word as a slur, which unfortunately is very often, I always try to explain to them and tell them not to use the word, because honestly it should not be used in a negative way at all. It is so important to get rid of using the r-word in a negative way because retarted people are not "dumb", or less than anyone else and people need to understand that!
About Julianna V:Im Julianna and I am now a Junior in high school, and have been volunteering for buddy ball since 5th grade. I sing and play soccer and track and want to pursue the career in occupational therapy!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!