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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


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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January 15, 2015 | North America: Illinois

We Need To Stop The r-word talk to you family friends you co-workers and pastor

By Damian Ellis

We need everybody to say the r-word is not good for everybody. Let's take a stand by putting the r-word out for not just one person but all of us. Let's make everybody be happy. Thank you.View Story We need everybody to say the r-word is not good for everybody. Let's take a stand by putting the r-word out for not just one person but all of us. Let's make everybody be happy. Thank you.

About Damian Ellis:I like to volunteer for special Olympics in Chicago prayer for everybody be a access living captain volunteer at other like world sport Chicago, Bank of America, Chicago marathons
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December 24, 2014 | Why I Support Special Olympics

Friends before Coach

By Tara Power

2010 came as any other year would, with the promise I would accomplish and change and become a better me. The only thing different about 2010 is that my life was about to change forever.View Story 2010 came as any other year would, with the promise I would accomplish and change and become a better me. The only thing different about 2010 is that my life was about to change forever. I started work with a young girl my age and we became the best of friends, sisters you could say, who by chance was also a Special Olympics athlete. After only a short amount of time I became a volunteer, only a year later I became a coach. I laughed, I cried, I've had the best time of my life. I quickly came to realize that while I helped the Special Olympics athletes, they were helping me. I had new meaning to my life, I had another reason to wake up in the morning. I now had purpose, and I belonged to something much bigger. A family. I thank God every day that he has given me the chance to make a difference in so many lives, and I thank him for giving me the chance to become the friend of the one person who would change my life forever. Tara Power Coach with SOCB Head coach Young Athletes Corner Brook

About Tara Power:
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December 24, 2014 | North America: Illinois

The True Definition of Sport

By Dan Laird

In 1968 my mother, a special education teacher in Illinois, brought four of her kids to the first Special Olympics in Chicago. From there, her participation in Special Olympics grew quickly.View Story In 1968 my mother, a special education teacher in Illinois, brought four of her kids to the first Special Olympics Games in Chicago. From there, her participation in Special Olympics grew quickly. She put together a basketball team and became the first female basketball coach in the state of Illinois. She also started the first co-ed team when she included two girls, not to make a case for equality, but simply because she had two girls who were so good she saw no reason to deny them their chance to shine. In the early days, it was hard to get resources from her own school district, so we became her staff. Mom had me as a scorekeeper, then a referee, then a chaperone for her team. I truly enjoyed my time with her students. They defined joy, teamwork, sportsmanship, and friendship in ways no other group had done at that time or since. I have told many of my friends that if they want to see the true definition of sport – done for the love of the game – watch a Special Olympics event.

About Dan Laird:I have been a volunteer for Special Olympics for many years.
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December 12, 2014 | North America: Illinois

The Boy Who Changed the Way I Think

By Maddie Thill

When I was 11, I joined my school's Best Buddies program. I was matched with Victor, a 10 year old boy who couldn't speak, and was only learning how to walk. We instantly became best friends.View Story When I was 11, I joined my school's Best Buddies program. I was matched with Victor, a 10 year old boy who couldn't speak, and was only learning how to walk. We instantly became best friends. Whenever I had a free period, i would see him. We would work on walking. I would hold him up with a walker and special straps and we walk walk up and down the hallways. students in my grade would pass by and mutter things like "retard" or "Why does she hang out with him?" It hurt me, and I assume, it hurt Victor too. So, my school joined the campaign. Many people at my school are more educated on the effect of their words. I Pledge for Victor.

About Maddie Thill:I am an advocate for Best Buddies and Special Olympics. I'm a unified bocce ball partner. I go to Creekside Middle school and I'm 14.
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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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