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
November 26, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Ireland
Special Olympics Ireland volunteers win 3 awards!
By Pamela Kavanagh
Pictured below is:
Annette Codd, (Regional Director, Special Olympics Leinster) John Treacy, (CEO, Irish Sports Council) Patrick Akpoveta , Peggy Mason, Shane Carolan (all Special Olympics volunteers) and Matt English (CEO, Special Olympics Ireland)
Minster of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring announced the winners of the National Volunteers in Sports Awards on Wednesday November 19th at a ceremony in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.View Story ▼Minster of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring announced the winners of the National Volunteers in Sports Awards on Wednesday November 19th at a ceremony in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
The National Volunteer in Sport Awards were started in 2007, headed up by the Federation of Irish Sports - which represents some 72 National Governing Bodies and 28 Local Sports Partnerships: they estimate there are now 500,000 adults volunteering in sport on a regular basis in Ireland. The winners came from 342 nominations and were selected by a committee chaired by Olympian Ronnie Delaney, representatives of the Federation of Irish Sports, the Irish Sport Council, The Irish Times, RTE and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
Special Olympics Ireland were extremely proud to have 3 volunteers receive this prestigious award. They were Patrick Akpoveta who first volunteered with Special Olympics in 2003 and has coached basketball and football teams, Peggy Mason who has volunteered with us since 1985, set up the South Dublin Gymnastic Club, helped set up a Special Olympics Bowling Club and has also volunteered with the Dundrum Arch Club for 35 years and Shane Carolan who has volunteered with us since 2007, particularly in the area of our Motor Activities Training Programme.
A massive congratulations goes to our 3 winners and also to the thousands of volunteers working tirelessly in every community across Ireland on our behalf.
Your support is essential to our organisation and we could not operate without you!
About Pamela Kavanagh:I work in the Marketing, Communications and Fundraising department of Special Olympics Ireland based in DublinView less ▲
November 21, 2014 | North America: Michigan
Unified Sports has changed my life
By Jeremy Heinlein
No one should be left out of something because they are different. We need to embrace our differences and understand each other.
I challenge everyone else to become involved with Unified Sports, to be more understanding, and be more inclusive.View Story ▼Unified Sports has changed my life. It has given a new way to view the world that I never would have had before.
I have a new appreciation for my opportunities, and will be forever grateful for the friendships and connections that Unified Sports has given me. Whenever I’m a part of something, I make it a point to be inclusive. No one should be left out of something because they are different. We need to embrace our differences and understand each other.
I challenge everyone else to become involved with Unified Sports, to be more understanding, and be more inclusive. Make a change in your life, and make a difference in someone else’s. Remember to “Play Unified, Live Unified.”
About Jeremy Heinlein:Jeremy Heinlein works for the Central Michigan University Leadership Institute in Mt. Pleasant and is a former public relations intern at Special Olympics Michigan.View less ▲
November 21, 2014 | Why I Support Special Olympics
SPECIAL Special Olympics
By Laura S Buracker
For anyone who feels sad, who doesn't "get" good sportsmanship, who needs something "big" to happen to make them excited...come to a Special Olympics event!View Story ▼My family has been a part of Special Olympics for over 16 years.
For anyone who feels sad, who doesn't "get" good sportsmanship, who needs something "big" to happen to make them excited...come to a Special Olympics event!
The excitement, the smiles and giggles, the pride is there in everything the athletes do...even if it's a gutter ball in bowling, a strikeout in softball, or an air ball in basketball! The excitement is contagious!
My family has been blessed with our own special athlete, as well as those that we play with, watch, and coach.
About Laura S Buracker:Mom of an athlete; coach softball; Registered nurse; Area medic and medical representativeView less ▲
November 19, 2014 | North America: Pennsylvania
Change starts with me
By Laura Squicciarini
One day while walking on campus and talking on his cellphone, another student walking by called Kevin a retard. There was no reason for it and this person did not even know him.View Story ▼My University has a program for students with special needs so they can attend classes and get a real college experience. I worked as a tutor for the program with a student named Kevin (pseudonym). I really enjoyed working with Kevin and we grew to be good friends. I learned to see beyond his disability and see his abilities. One day while walking on campus and talking on his cellphone, another student walking by called Kevin a retard. There was no reason for it and this person did not even know him. Because of this incident, Kevin left the program and the school. This program was a great opportunity for Kevin and it was ruined because of one person’s ignorance. I miss my friend on campus and wish that I could change how people treat him, so I can share his story to spread awareness.
About Laura Squicciarini:I am an education student and former buddy for Special Olympics. I volunteer on my college campus with students with special needs. View less ▲
November 13, 2014 | North America: Pennsylvania
Everyone is different
Everywhere in the world people look different. It's very sad that in 2014 violence and hate crimes still exist. People who happen to look "different" are not bad, scary or deserving of hatred. Every one is different.View Story ▼Everywhere in the world people look different. It's very sad that in 2014 violence and hate crimes still exist. People who happen to look "different" are not bad, scary or deserving of hatred. Every one is different. Instead of sneaking around, vandalizing someone's home, harming others, stop. Children no matter what they look like, their size, gender, color, medical illness, features, or how they function are all beautiful children. They may not even realize they are different, their families don't treat them any different from the other siblings, so why should someone else have that right to feel that way. These beautiful children did nothing wrong, they were born a little different, but still are a beautiful person deserving of the same consideration of others. If you don't understand their condition, instead of speaking hate, instead of hiding behind ignorance, educate yourself and others. Find out how to HELP not hate. Every one is God's child. No matter what they look like.
About Elizabeth:View less ▲
November 12, 2014 | North America: Colorado
My Momma Told Me...It's all About Love
By Ashley Bunn
My mother has worked with adults with mental disabilities for as long as I can remember. My mom taught me about love.View Story ▼My mother has worked with adults with mental disabilities for as long as I can remember. I remember going to picnics with her and her clients and going to work with her sometimes. My mom taught me about love. She has so much love and respect for those she serves. This is something she has passed on to me. When I was in school, she always encouraged me to be friends with and sit with those with disabilities. That has instilled in me a love for these awesome people. Kids are cruel, and I often was teased and harassed because of my action. But that was nothing compared to what these kids went through. I like to hope that I gave them some sort of bright spot to their day.
But the sad thing, as an adult, I see it just as much as when I was a kid. It starts with us. What can we do? We can love. We can educate others. We can be the example. Just like my mom did to me.
About Ashley Bunn:I am a 29 year old member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint. I am a nerd. I believe that love and respect can change the world.View less ▲
November 12, 2014 | North America: Virginia
Words may hurt, but can make us stronger
By Arrar Ochoa
There are many words that can hurt anyone, but there is only one word that can hurt like the r-word. Why use it? To make yourself powerful? Seem cool?View Story ▼There are many words that can hurt anyone, but there is only one word that can hurt like the r-word. Why use it? To make yourself powerful? Seem cool? What about that person who you just called the r-word? Don't you care? Instead of saying the r- word, say lets be FRIENDS, and instead of laughing, try helping. Instead of being like your friends, stand out and help. Don't let what others think get in the way in helping. Every kid is special and different, but the same. These kids can make you smile, and lighten your day, and you can have a friendship that can not be seen, because there is so much to learn, that it can't be broken, because that friendship never ends.
So stand up for these kids, be their knight and armor, be their guardian angel, be anything, but most of all be their friend, it won't kill you, but make you into something you never knew you had. So stop the r-word, and create a future where we can all be treated as equal and start something new.
About Arrar Ochoa:I want to major in art, and help disability kids to do art, so that they can have their voice be seen and heard. For me we are equal and friends, they are my role models ^_^View less ▲
About Special Olympics in North America
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Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!