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 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 ▲
July 08, 2014 | North America: Connecticut
Never giving up
By Claire Burns
All my friends know how horrible I feel when people use the r-word, I work with special ed kids and want to be a teacher when I'm older.View Story ▼All my friends know how horrible I feel when people use the r-word, I work with special ed kids and want to be a teacher when I'm older. One of my best friends still uses the r-word constantly knowing that it is derogatory so every time she says it I have to explain to her why it's such a horrible word and how it makes people feel. I hope one day she will realize how much one word can impact someone, I'm doing all that I can.
About Claire Burns :View less ▲
July 02, 2014 | Latin America: El Salvador
Medical Professionals in Latin America Support Care for People with Intellectual Disabilities
By Guisele Calderón
Nearly 40 medical professionals from five countries in Latin America showed their support for Special Olympics as they gathered in Merida, Mexico to attend a Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Train the Trainer event that instructs medical professionals on how to care for people with intellectual disabilities in different health disciplines.View Story ▼Nearly 40 medical professionals from five countries in Latin America showed their support for Special Olympics as they gathered in Merida, Mexico to attend a Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Train the Trainer event that instructs medical professionals on how to care for people with intellectual disabilities in different health disciplines. After 3 days of training, each medical professional became a certified Special Olympics Clinical Director. As a Clinical Director, they have the approval to host Special Olympics clinics along with other volunteer medical professionals to treat athletes. The event offered training in the following areas: FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being), Special Smiles (dentistry) and Opening Eyes (optometry). The event was hosted by the regional office of Special Olympics Latin America and was held June 12-14.
About Guisele Calderón:Marketing, Communications and Public Relations CoordinatorView less ▲
June 27, 2014 | North America: Kentucky
By Melanie Turner
This is what we do
If you use the word "retard" or "retarded" to refer to everything that is bad or wrong in the world, you are using a medical term that refers to some of the most innocent people in the world.View Story ▼Respect people with disabilities the way you would want your children to be respected if they had a disability. If you use the word "retard" or "retarded" to refer to everything that is bad or wrong in the world, you are using a medical term that refers to some of the most innocent people in the world. It does hurt. It may hurt the person with a disability and sometimes it may hurt a family member or a friend. This journey is long and not always easy. There was a day when a dr. told a mother her child had mental retardation. That mother crumbled both mentally and physically. Then she looked up to her child. Picked herself up. And VOWED to never crumble again. But THAT word always serves to remind her of THAT moment when she crumbled. That's my story. It wasn't easy to share. Maybe it will help just ONE person understand in a very personal way, how this word works to hurt many people.
About Melanie Turner:I am Christin's Mom. I am a volunteer photographer for Team Special Olympics Kentucky. I don't crumble. View less ▲
June 26, 2014 | North America: Connecticut
From Mean Girl to Good Girl
By Rachel Marks
I plan on going on one of those singing competition shows in the future and tell people in front of the camera to Spread The Word To end the Word.View Story ▼How would you feel if someone probably a girl that you wanted to be friends with or an Idol like Justin Beiber turned out to be a real jerk in the media? When I was in middle school I found out that I had a learning disability. Nobody wanted to be friends with me because I thought the kids would turn their backs to me, then I decided to play mean girl, which wasn't fun. Then in High School I joined Unified Theater so that I can make friends with kids and have people come together to bring peace. My point is treat people the way they want to be treated because words can really hurt living things. Now I'm doing great things. I will be attending college in the fall and I also plan on going on one of those singing competition shows in the future and tell people in front of the camera to Spread The Word To end the Word.
About Rachel Marks:I am a singer who doesn't let my disability affect my future goals. View less ▲
About Special Olympics in North America
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Volunteer Near You
Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!