The time and financial commitment was a huge consideration for all potential Games Makers, especially those from outside London. However, when details were sent out via our Special Olympics Great Britain National Volunteer Office to all athletes around the country, this unique and once in a life time opportunity clearly captured the imagination and for some it was a journey which they could not resist.
From the outset the Athletes and their Family Members/Guardians bought into the whole inclusive approach – that they would go through exactly the same process as “everyone else” the completion of the application form, attending their interview, attending training, committing to unsociable and long shifts – nothing was watered down. The wait to hear if they had been successful and to what role and venue they were assigned seemed to go on forever. But the wait for the 14 Athletes who managed to stay the course from beginning to end meant the adventure was only just beginning.
Only two Athletes lived within the London Boroughs, the remainder, camped, brought the family caravan, stayed with friends and relatives or travelled for more than two hours a day to get to their venues on time for their shift. Supported at all times, they fulfilled their roles with great enthusiasm and energy and LOCOG ensured that they were all in roles where they could interact with members of the public or Olympic Athletes, the media or special guests and, of course their fellow Games Makers – was there ever a more informal yet extraordinary opportunity to raise awareness and break down barriers about the learning disabled community – all working towards one goal, all part of the same team and an opportunity to embrace rather than fear our differences.