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.
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
August 19, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Great Britain
Conner and Comaneci: Volunteer Heroes
By Chris Hull
Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci pose with gymnasts from Special Olympics Great Britain.
Hannah Westerman is going to represent Great Britain at the next Special Olympics World Games. Imagine her reaction when she found out she would meet Olympic gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci.View Story ▼Hannah Westerman is going to represent Great Britain at the next Special Olympics World Games. Imagine her reaction when she found out she would meet Olympic gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci. Not only meet her, but perform for her and have a 90-minute hands-on skills session with her. "Incredible," she said.
Comaneci and her husband, Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner, devoted an evening to a group of lucky Special Olympics Great Britain gymnasts on 18 August in London. It was part of a decades-long commitment to Special Olympics that the couple has shared. Both are big fans of Special Olympics and are on the Special Olympics International Board of Directors. They volunteer their experience and knowledge to ensure Special Olympics gymnasts around the world get a chance to perform to the peak of their abilities.
About Chris Hull:I am the communications director for Special Olympics Great Britain.View less ▲
August 19, 2014 | Latin America: Panamá
Special Olympics Panama Athlete Leader Recognized For Her Work with People with Intellectual Disabilities
By Maryorie Patiño Jaén
Brenda Bassan, Special Olympics Panama athlete leader, was recently recognized by the Association of Entrepreneurs and Professionals in Panama, as a 2014 "Distinguished Youth," for her work with people with intellectual disabilities and involvement with Special Olympics.View Story ▼Brenda Bassan, Special Olympics Panama athlete leader, was recently recognized by the Association of Entrepreneurs and Professionals in Panama, as a 2014 "Distinguished Youth," for her work with people with intellectual disabilities and involvement with Special Olympics. The association is dedicated to improving the quality of life of women by providing opportunities for growth. Brenda is an athlete leader for Special Olympics bowling and volunteers with a Special Olympics to provide young people with school and community-based opportunities that help them understand ways to serve as active citizens for change in their local, national, and global communities.
About Maryorie Patiño Jaén:Director of Public Awareness of Special Olympics PanamaView less ▲
August 13, 2014 | North America: Texas
Why I got into Meet in the Middle Project Unify
By Malerie Corbell
I've only been in Meet in the Middle for a little over a year and I've not only made a difference in their lives (athletes) but they've made a difference in mine. They've turned my whole life around and on the right course.View Story ▼My name is Malerie Corbell, and I took the pledge to end the r-word. I took the pledge and joined the Meet in the Middle group because I've had a lot of personal problems. Over the past 4 years I've had severe depression and wanted a change. I've only been in MIM for a little over a year and I've not only made a difference in their lives (athletes) but they've made a difference in mine. They've turned my whole life around and on the right course. I've also recently went to a Project Unified conference in Austin and learned so many new things and have so many new ideas for my school and how to spread the word to my community.
About Malerie Corbell :I am 15 years old. I am a unified partner, youth participant, and I guess you could say a volunteer. I absolutely LOVE being a part of Special Olympics and Project Unify! View less ▲
August 11, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Great Britain
By Eileen Symon
I worked at Special Olympics in Scotstoun Glasgow in 2005.. It has left a lasting impression on my life and changed me for the better.View Story ▼I worked at Special Olympics in Scotstoun Glasgow in 2005.. It has left a lasting impression on my life and changed me for the better...well done to all the athletes and competitors...hopefully I may get a chance another time to help out...xx
About Eileen Symon:I'm a mother of 4. I had gone to college when I was 40 once my kids had grown and got the opportunity to work at Special Olympics..I am a catering assistant in the local high school...I volunteered this year at the commonwealth games in Glasgow.View less ▲
August 08, 2014 | North America: Illinois
I'm proud to be a special person
By Kennith forestlone
My parents tell me I've just stopped growing up. So I'm happy I'm like Peter Pan. I keep my happy thoughts and I avoid pirates. Lol.View Story ▼My parents tell me I've just stopped growing up. So I'm happy I'm like Peter Pan. I keep my happy thoughts and I avoid pirates. Lol.
About Kennith forestlone:I'm 35. I'm a collage graduate. I have my own car. I have my own wife and kids:) it's hard keeping a job but I know I'm loved. View less ▲
August 08, 2014 | North America: Massachusetts
Some People Jusn't Don't Get It
By Madeleine Fordham
I was in art class when a guy used the r-word. Simultaneously, my friend Ben and I corrected him. He responded that it wasn't offensive. We spent 20 minutes trying to convince him using whatever means necessary.View Story ▼I was in art class when a guy used the r-word. Simultaneously, my friend Ben and I corrected him. He responded that it wasn't offensive. We spent 20 minutes trying to convince him using whatever means necessary. He kept saying that it didn't affect us, wasn't our problem, and since no one in the room had a mental disability, wasn't offensive. Finally, our teacher stepped in and just told him he just couldn't say it. But he wouldn't admit it. Ben and I looked at each other like, "What are we gonna do?" We were both glad we tried, but it's frustrating to not be able to get people to understand. The other day, I met a man with Down syndrome in a bakery. He introduced himself and asked how I was. When I told him my name, he responded by telling me it was very pretty. Why isn't that an acceptable thing to do in everyday society. If we weren't so suspicious, so afraid of everything slightly out of the norm, then the world would be a better place. People should get THAT.
About Madeleine Fordham:I'm a 15 year old girl.View less ▲
July 31, 2014 | North America: Southern California
Special Olympics Video Volunteer
By Jenny Martin
This summer my daughter volunteered to be a videographer at special Olympics and I came along as her assistant. I am always touched by the amount of love from the parents and athletes.View Story ▼This summer my daughter volunteered to be a videographer at special Olympics and I came along as her assistant. I am always touched by the amount of love from the parents and athletes. I cheered and I cried...all of them are my favorites... when she was editing the film, I got to live the experience again and again and it is heart touching... kudos to all of the participants.
About Jenny Martin :Mother of two special needs kids, including the videographer. We believe in giving back to our community. We take one day at a time and count our blessings. View less ▲
About Special Olympics in North America
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Volunteer Near You
Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!