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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


April 27, 2015 | North America: Michigan

Many lives to stop one word

By Kayla Hodges

I work at an all special education school called Heartwood. I am going to school to teach special education. It has been about two years since I have used the r word.View Story I work at an all-special education school called Heartwood. I am going to school to teach special education. It has been about two years since I have used the r word, and I continue to spread my cease of the word to friends of mine. The kids and adults I work with are so great, and deserve so much more respect than they receive. Stop the r word!

About Kayla Hodges:I am a paraprofessional at Heartwood school. I regularly volunteer at special Olympics. I am going to school to teach special education
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April 27, 2015 | North America: New York

stop the word!

By gabby s

I am 13 years old and in 1st grade, I had a kid in my class with Down syndrome and ever since I have been volunteering in the special education classes at my school...the r-word is horrible and to me it is considered a curse wordView Story I am 13 years old and in 1st grade, I had a kid in my class with Down syndrome and ever since I have been volunteering in the special education classes at my school...the r-word is horrible and to me it is considered a curse word..it bothers me even more when an adult uses the word!!! From experience I know how much it hurts the people with disabilities when someone uses the word, and that is why I pledge never to use the word!

About gabby s:
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April 21, 2015 | North America: Oregon

He's a Smart Cookie

By Addy

Every Friday, I get to play with a little boy, and I am not even going to define his disability, because after two years of hanging out with him, I look at him and I don't see a disability. I just see an awesome little boy.View Story Every Friday I have the joy of hanging out with kids with a range of physically and mentally different abilities in the Oregon State program, "IMPACT." I get to play with a little boy, and I am not even going to define his disability, because after two years of hanging out with him, I look at him and I don't see a disability. I just see an awesome little boy. I used to explain some of his behaviors as part of his disability, but the more time I spend with him the more I realize that his behavior is not unlike any other kid his age. One day I was trying to turn on the floor fan in the gym and it was plugged in and everything, but wouldn't turn on. He just reached down and pressed the red switch on the power strip, and on went the fan, something I didn't even consider. He is one of the smartest, kindest, best hearted kids I have ever met, and I am so lucky to call him my friend. So here is to loving people for who they are and not using any word that makes someone feel less.

About Addy:I am a student, and athlete, an adventure seeker, and a people lover. I love that we are spreading the word to end the word, because the world needs more people loving and building each other up.
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April 21, 2015 | Middle East North Africa: Tunisia

A Volunteer with Special Olympics

By أنيس الحضري

I am a young Tunisian who chose to be a volunteer in Special Olympics because I see that this activity should be done.View Story I am a young Tunisian who chose to be a volunteer in Special Olympics because I see that this activity should be done. I am interested in volunteer work, especially with people with intellectual disabilities or health problems. I see there is a need to reach a broader base of people with intellectual disabilities who are still facing some difficulties and challenges.

About أنيس الحضري:I am a young Tunisian, and I have obtained a university level of education. I am 29 years old.
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April 16, 2015 | North America: South Carolina

Golf Skills Challenge During RBC Heritage, Ben Crane teaches

By Hilary Kerr

Ben Crane and local Special Olympic athletes watch a promising putt during the putting challenge.

Hilton Head Island is known for a few things; the beach, bikes, tennis, and golf. We are home to one of the top tennis resorts in the nation, as well as a PGA Pro Tournament.View Story Hilton Head Island is known for a few things; the beach, bikes, tennis, and golf. We are home to one of the top tennis resorts in the nation, as well as a PGA Pro Tournament. More specifically, the RBC Heritage that took place April 13-19 this year. On Tuesday April 14th, a mile and a half over from The Heritage, Bank of America hosted a Skills Challenge, where our local Special Olympic athletes were put to the test. Heron Point by Pete Dye welcomed approximately twenty five eager athletes and a PGA Pro competing in the Heritage, Ben Crane, to the driving, chipping, and putting ranges to compete, learn, and have fun. Other local golf teachers and Bank of America volunteers lended a hand, giving tips and cheering on the athletes. The event was an overwhelming success and a great evening for all!

About Hilary Kerr:Hilary has been a volunteer with Special Olympics for over four years. She works closely with SOAR-Special Recreation, a local partner of Special Olympics, marketing and volunteering at events.
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April 07, 2015 | North America: Florida

Jonathan

By Yesenia Acuna

I met this young man at a Valentines dance that John I.'s Student Government put together. While setting up this event, I felt really happy for the fact I made a difference.View Story I met this young man at a Valentines dance that John I.'s Student Government put together. While setting up this event, I felt really happy for the fact I made a difference. All the children from different schools came together and danced and laughed as if they knew eachother for years. There was no judging and there was no "R-Word" going around. My person that day, was Jonathan from Palm Beach Central. He invited me to join him on his big day, and that's where i'll be April 11th <3 I love you Jonathan and thank you for making an impact on my life.

About Yesenia Acuna:Working with children that have disabilities made my life more easy, and more comforting because seeing the childrens smiles are so amazing to me. This is why I plan to furthur my education to work with children like this for the rest of my life. It's honestly a blessing.
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March 29, 2015 | North America: Oklahoma

Think Before You Speak

By Baylee

So I used the r-word to display how childish my close friends were acting. A nearby little girl, she was five, stood up and walked over to me, with tears in her eyes she asked me to stop my use of this word, her best friend was handicapped, and also had a mental disability. I cried and told her how sorry I was.View Story I used to use the r-word all the time, I have older brothers who said it when I was little, and i caught on and I'd said every since then. Until one day, someone changed my point of view, and showed me how badly the word can hurt someone with the disability. I was in a restaurant with some friends, we were eating chinese food, they were acting out, and putting chopsticks in their mouths acting as if they were walruses. So I used the r-word to display how childish my close friends were acting. A nearby little girl, she was five, stood up and walked over to me, with tears in her eyes she asked me to stop my use of this word, her best friend was handicapped, and also had a mental disability. I cried and told her how sorry I was. And I promised to never say this word again. She made me realize that that word can actually hurt someone with the disability, or close to someone with it. From that day forward I have never said the word again.

About Baylee :
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Special Olympics Blog

Jean Vanier, a prophet of humility and simplicity, wins!

Today, the Templeton Foundation gave its most prestigious award to my hero, Jean Vanier.  For Linda and our children and me, he has also been our retreat leader, our teacher of humility, our guide. 

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Posted on 2015-03-11 by Tim

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