Special Olympics, Special Experience

Gracie Kindred, Reporter

       Although service hours were just entered and surely everyone has them off their minds at the moment, this is something you have to experience at least once. What is that “something” you ask? Volunteering for the Special Olympics, an unsurpassed experience.

       The Special Olympics are always, always, always in need of more volunteers and it’s never too early to start your service hours for next year or even simply doing them on your own time, not for the purpose of service hours. Whether it’s score keeping, reffing, setting up, cleaning up, cheering, there’s a job for everyone. Everyone has a different comfort level, but getting comfortable and getting involved is so impactful for not only the players and their families but impactful for yourself as well.

       You will never meet more kind, loving, supportive people than when you get involved in Special Olympics events. The community is unlike any other. You will never feel unwanted, unheard or unseen. This organization and the programs within are truly changing lives every day. Both the lives of the participants, their families and the volunteers.

       To look more into volunteering, visit the Special Olympics Washington website. That’ll give you all the information you need. Instead of me giving you all the information, what I want to do in this article is emphasize the impact and importance that volunteering for the Special Olympics has.

       “Getting to volunteer at the special olympics was such an amazing experience. It truly felt like I (along with everyone else there) were all able to make a difference in these athletes’ lives and work together as a community. I remember on one of the days that I was a volunteer, my job was to be a timer for all of the track races we had that day and at the end of every race when each athlete crossed the finish line, you could just see them smile so big and feel how happy and proud of themselves they were, which is really such an important and incredible thing for everyone to get a chance to feel” said Junior Charlotte Backschies.

       The gratitude, pride, support, pure joy and love surrounding you when you go is unmatched. Like Charlotte said, it is so important for every single person in this world to get the chance to experience that feeling of crossing the finish line and all the incredible emotions that come with it. For these athletes, to feel important and being a part of something is so beneficial for their physical and mental health. Every time you turn your head there’s a smile, smiles that are so big your heart is instantly touched.

       I have a first hand experience of how the Special Olympics truly changed the lives of people with special needs, and their families. My little sister has special needs and her physical ability and mental state has been incredibly transformed throughout the years and a large amount of credit goes to Special Olympic programs. Watching her grow in her abilities and seeing how much joy is brought to her has been life changing. She has been a part of Special Olympics baseball, softball, soccer, dance, swimming, etc and has loved every minute of it. I have had the privilege of being able to help out with her teams, see everything in action and see the impact it has on the athletes and their families.

       The experience, no matter if you’re timing races like Charlotte, checking people in, physically helping the athletes, or simply cheering them on, is one of the most profoundly touching things in this world. You gain new experiences, new connections, friendships that will last a lifetime meanwhile gaining service hours along with it, now what’s wrong with that? If you haven’t already figured it out, I think this is an opportunity that should not be overlooked. If you decide to volunteer for any Special Olympic program or event, you will surely leave it as a better person, a touched heart and the biggest smile, that is a guarantee.