Michael Newton - a Special Olympics Volunteer from Germany - in conversation with Bjoern Koehler from Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia:
Bjoern: Michael Newton, you have been involved for many years with Special Olympics and you were recently nominated as a European Basketball Advisor – how did you come into contact with Special Olympics and what does it mean for you to volunteer with Special Olympics?
Michael: I have been involved with Special Olympics for the past 15 years or more but my first real experience was in 1998 at the Mediterranean Games in Athens and coincidentally where the last World Games were held. So one can say I have been a volunteer ever since then. I started coaching a Basketball Team in Bruckberg/Baveria at regional level. I then moved to Head Coach of the German Unified Basketball Team at 4 World Games, became German National Basketball Coordinator in 1999 and now I’m pleased to say I’m European Basketball Advisor. Being a volunteer with Special Olympics is something very special for me. Special Olympics has given me so much pleasure and my goal is to pass this onto others.
Bjoern: You have been working in a residence for people with intellectual and physical disabilities for many years. How does Special Olympics contribute to your job and what does Special Olympics mean for the people living in the residence in Neuendettelsau?
Michael: I must say, without the support of my boss I would not be able to invest the time I do. Special Olympics makes my job much more interesting and I am privileged to be in the position I am. One of the great things for the residents where I work and athletes is having the opportunity to take part in so many events, which are organised by Special Olympics at regional, national and international level. The opportunity to make new friends and to be the centre of attention is life changing for them and for me.
Bjoern: You have three children, what do they say about your long history of involvement with Special Olympics and how does it reflect in their own lives?
Michael: Cillian is 20 years old and is a Unified Basketball player. Finn is 18 and is on my organisation team as a media expert. My daughter Nora is 12 years old and plays Basketball. She is also a volunteer at Special Olympics regional events. I must not forget my wife Renate of course who gives me so much love and support and her own interest in Special Olympics is tireless. That says everything!
Bjoern: What is your vision for Special Olympics? Where do you see Special Olympics and yourself in the future?
Michael: My vision, with the support of Special Olympics, is that all athletes across the globe are included in the sports world. Basketball and Unified Sports are my major goals with Special Olympics and I hope to be able to contribute in this area as long as I’m needed. My future with Special Olympics is a “Never Ending Story”.
Bjoern: Thank you Michael.