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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.

A Special Olympics official points and gives an athete some pre-race instructions

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


February 19, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

Simple Joy

By Haily King

My sister Terra (left) and I (right).

My sister was born with apraxia of speech along with severe intellectual disabilities. She perseveres through all of the not-so-pleasant parts of her disability, like struggling through school and revels in all of the "perks" like being able to participate in Special Olympics.View Story My sister was born with apraxia of speech along with severe intellectual disabilities. She perseveres through all of the not-so-pleasant parts of her disability, like struggling through school and revels in all of the "perks" like being able to participate in Special Olympics. Through her I realized my purpose in this world- helping those with disabilities. I discovered that the simplest of things, like just dancing with someone with special needs, makes them incredibly happy and joyous. And seeing their happy smiles is so rewarding and makes me extremely happy too.

About Haily King:Growing up with my sister Terra has really inspired me to become what I'm on my way to becoming. I'm only 16 and I'm already coaching Special Olympics softball. It's truly rewarding and I love it. (:
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February 19, 2015 | North America: Maine

My community

By Big Jon

I help speaking up for us and with people with disabilities who don't know how to speak up for themselves. We help them out in every wayView Story I help speaking up for us and with people with disabilities who don't know how to speak up for themselves. We help them out in every way and we also speak up at the Statehouse and we work with our partners. We're doing the live 360 leadership development program and we also help out in a community and also help out the whole entire state of Maine.

About Big Jon :I help out speaking up for us. I have a job at Miller Drug on State Street in Bangor Maine and I play roller derby I'm on to candlepin bowling leagues in a tenpin bowling league
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February 13, 2015 | Latin America: Mexico

Andrea Arvizu: My Story as a Volunteer

By Paola Martinelli

Being able to support Special Olympics is a wonderful experience. I can see athletes in an environment full of opportunities that helps them develop their physical and mental capabilitiesView Story Being able to support Special Olympics is a wonderful experience. I can see athletes in an environment full of opportunities that helps them develop their physical and mental capabilities, while living an experienced and self-fulfilling life of independence. Being with their teams. But most of all living with others, and having a sense of belongingness they don’t find anywhere is amazing. I am grateful for the opportunity they gave me to participate and to help. I hope they will always invite me to share my time and efforts to make me a better person and to get more people involved.

About Paola Martinelli:National Director of Communications and Marketing
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February 13, 2015 | Latin America: Mexico

Volunteer Cristian Eloy Gomez Rico: A Look, a Smile, a Hug and Lots of Heart

By Paola Martinelli

I have had a great experience with wonderful people, people who gave their 100 percent. They do not know the phrase I can’t. They were persons with a warrior spirit.View Story I have had a great experience with wonderful people, people who gave their 100 percent. They do not know the phrase I can’t. They were persons with a warrior spirit. Warriors not only in strength but also with love, fighting no matter how big the obstacle. Never accepting their losses since defeats, for them, will always be victories. Their strength is unbreakable. It is so amazing to see how special they are to change your life with just a glance, a smile and a hug. Their spirit to go forward no matter what makes you shudder. They capture your soul with their strength. I've become a fan of Christian’s perseverance and commitment. With this I can say that my experience with Special Olympics has been one of the best experiences in my life Olympics.

About Paola Martinelli:National Director of Communications and Marketing
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January 30, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Great Britain

How something can change your life

By Eleonora Coltro

I arrived in Bournemouth (UK) in 2014 and after few months I heard for the first time about Special Olympics. The only way I could get involved it was being a volunteer and I immediately thought it could be a great opportunity.View Story I arrived in Bournemouth (UK) in 2014 and after few months I heard for the first time about Special Olympics. The only way I could get involved it was being a volunteer and I immediately thought it could be a great opportunity to do something helpful for the community, even if I was in a country which was not mine. Firstly I met some parents who explained me what I was supposed to do and who told me that I could go to the first session to see if I liked it. After I week I joined the first session. There were around 15 people, and during the training I felt so comfortable that I decided it was something I really wanted to do. And guess what? Two girls and a boy asked me to come back since they enjoyed the time together. What more you need? Absolutely nothing! Unfortunately my time here is almost finished, and I will miss a lot every single person. But I am glad I meet them. Helping others is something that makes you smile every night before bedtime.Hope to find something in Italy.

About Eleonora Coltro:I am 25, and an Italian student who, in 2014, went to the UK to do a postgraduate course. I had never heard about Special Olympics before since in Italy they are not well advertised. I have played basketball since I was 6 and I think sport forms you as nothing else does. You learn a lot about yousrelf and about other people. I though that being a volunteer could be a great way to help others to enjoy sport they way I do.
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January 29, 2015 | North America: Canada

happy smiles

By K

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. -K

About K:college student
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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 Cup
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Special Olympics Blog

Sport and Tech Team Up for Good

Now, thanks to Microsoft, athletes, coaches and families will have rapid access to useful information about their scores, times, personal bests, fitness and health. Special Olympics can use this capability to dramatically improve the lives of people in our Movement.read more »

Posted on 2014-10-27 by Janet

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