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


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. Ends.

About Peter Kanjere: I am a sports journalist, 35, based in Malawi, Africa. I am also president of Sports Writers Association of Malawi.
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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 Panama
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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 :
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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 Coordinator
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Special Olympics Blog

Bursting with Pride

"I’m looking forward to the day when Mary will become a Special Olympics Young Athlete. I cannot wait."read more »

Posted on 2014-07-25 by Ryan

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