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
October 22, 2014 | SOI: Region Asia Pacific
Special Olympics Papua New Guinea celebrates EKS Day
By Sophia Tuna
About 10 new families and 15 new athletes joined Special Olympics Papua New Guinea on Saturday 18th October at Vabukori Village,outside Port Moresby, to celebrate Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day.View Story ▼About 10 new families and 15 new athletes joined Special Olympics Papua New Guinea on Saturday 18th October at Vabukori Village,outside Port Moresby, to celebrate Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day. Activities organised for the days celebrations included fun games, singing and dancing and introduction and meeting the new familie. A family support network program was also conducted by Cutie and Bennie Moi.
Vabukori Village is a traditional motuan village situated in the outskirts of Port Moresby played host to over 150 people who participated in EKS Day. The United Church Pastor and Councillor from the village were excited to meet everyone and invited Special Olympics Papua New Guinea to organise more activities as such in their village.
President of Special Olympics Papua New Guinea Takale Tuna was encouraged by the effort put in by volunteers who organised the EKS Day celebration. He also thanked Special Olympics Papua New Guinea sponsors, Digicel PNG limited, Paradise Foods Limited and PNG Sports Foundation for the support and especially thank the people of Vabukori Village for their support.
About Sophia Tuna:I am employed by the PNG Sports Foundation as the National Program Coordinator for Sport Ability and I am A VOLUNTEER secretary for Special Olympics Papua New Guinea. I organise all the events and activities for Special Olympics Papua New Guinea and i love getting doing that.View less ▲
October 14, 2014 | North America: South Dakota
My Little Sister
By Sydney Powers
1st Place Volleyball - 2014 State Summer Games
I didn't like knowing that my only little sister is different and she can't do things like I could. I kinda felt that there was something "wrong" with her but my family didn't know it till she was 8. Then, my whole world changed.View Story ▼My little sister, Delaney, has autism. I used to distance myself from her because I didn't like knowing that my only little sister is different and she can't do things like I could. I kinda felt that there was something "wrong" with her but my family didn't know it till she was 8. Then, my whole world changed. She made me see that not everything works in one certain way. She got me involved in her life and now if I go a day without seeing her, I want to cry because that's just how much I love and appreciate her.I guess her autism was a blessing, kinda. She inspired me to get involved in Special Olympics AND become a volunteer/coach. She inspired me to set my goals for the future. It used to be impossible to go places and not worry about what Delaney would do, but now she a completely changed girl in the short time of just one year. To me, she is my everything. We are the closest of sisters as it gets and Special Olympics Brookings helped us to be this way. They are a part of our family.
About Sydney Powers:I'm a high school student at Brookings High School. I just got involved with Special Olympics Brookings in the past year (2013) and they are basically my other family. I love seeing the athletes in the hallways or around town because they are always so happy to see you to. I'm very glad that I'm able to be apart of this team.View less ▲
October 02, 2014 | North America: North Carolina
Thomas Jenkins of Murdoch Center - 2014 Special Olympics NC October "Athlete of the Month"
By Nidhi Singh
Thomas Jenkins, 2014 Special Olympics North Carolina October "Athlete of the Month"
Thomas “Tommy” Jenkins of Butner, N.C. has always admired Coach Roy Williams and UNC Basketball so when he was given the opportunity to personally meet Coach Williams and present him with an honor on behalf of Special Olympics North Carolina, he was ecstatic.View Story ▼Thomas “Tommy” Jenkins of Butner, N.C. has always admired Coach Roy Williams and UNC Basketball so when he was given the opportunity to personally meet Coach Williams and present him with an honor on behalf of Special Olympics North Carolina, he was ecstatic.
“I was asked who I had in mind to present the ‘Thank You’ plaque to Roy Williams, I immediately thought Tommy,” said Willie Moore, one of Tommy’s coaches and closest friends. “Tommy was beaming with pride.”
To this day, Tommy talks about that special moment and how proud he was to present the award to Roy Williams. In his 10 years of participating in Special Olympics, Tommy has had many proud moments and continues to share his special memories with everyone around him.
About Nidhi Singh:I am the Special Olympics North Carolina communications intern and as a Tar Heel, I loved learning about Tommy's favorite Special Olympics moment when he presented an award to Coach Roy Williams!View less ▲
September 23, 2014 | North America: Illinois
My first ever Unified Sports competition
By Joseph George Krivosik
Last year was my first time competing in Unified bocce. I never competed in bocce before and I tried it for my first time and I liked it. When we went to the area meet for Unified bocce, me and another coach named Eugene Luzwick got second place.View Story ▼Last year was my first time competing in Unified bocce. I never competed in bocce before and I tried it for my first time and I liked it. When we went to the area meet for Unified bocce, me and another coach named Eugene Luzwick got second place.
About Joseph George Krivosik:I'm an athlete and also a volunteer for Special Olympics. I compete in bowling and I also volunteer for Special Olympics with school district 54 in Schaumburg, ILLINOISView less ▲
September 17, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Belgium
Rob Vanoudenhoven visits Unified Cooking
By Charlotte Vanhaevermaet
Rob Vanoudenhoven and Viki Geunes
Wednesday afternoon, Rob Vanoudenhoven paid a visit to the Olympic Town in Antwerp. There he got to meet chef Viki Geunes.View Story ▼Celebrity Ambassador to the Games Rob Vanoudenhoven paid a visit to the Olympic Town in Antwerp. There he met top chef Viki Geunes. “There exists a similarity between the sports field and the kitchen. Both in the field and kitchen you work in a team and it really satisfies you when you obtain a great result," said Geunes. “Lots of people tend to turn heads when they see someone with an intellectual or physical disability. It happens too often that people with a disability are trying to prove what they cannot do, instead of focusing on the things they can do," Vanoudenhoven says.
Rob Vanoudenhoven wants to make a warm appeal to everybody: “It is now time for absolute inclusion and acceptance of people with an intellectual disability in our society. When do people with a disability get their chance? Media attention for Unified Cooking is great, but it can be better! It has to become a way of living."
About Charlotte Vanhaevermaet:I am Charlotte Vanhaevermaet I am a volunterr contributor at the media desk in Antwerp Expo. I study Multilingual Professional Communications. View less ▲
September 17, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Belgium
Viki Geunes cooks in Olympic Town
By Charlotte Vanhaevermaet
Today Viki Geunes hosted the Olympic Town in Antwerp today. He cooked together with people with an intellectual disability.View Story ▼Today top chef Viki Geunes hosted the Olympic Town in Antwerp today. He cooked together with people with an intellectual disability.
Viki Geunes is very excited about the initiative that takes place at Steen, Antwerp: “Unified Cooking benefits everybody. There is a major difference between real experience in cooking and theoretical skills. This way up-and-coming cooks can share ideas and learn from each other”.
“Intellectual disabilities are no distant scenery anymore. It is favourable that steps are being taken to launch them into the media. When I received the offer to be a part of the Unified Cooking team, I immediately jumped into it”, Geunes says.
According to Geunes everyone arrived very prepared at the Olympic Town. “By Unified Cooking, people with intellectual disabilities receive attention from other people than their families. It is heart-warming to see how they open up themselves to others.”
About Charlotte Vanhaevermaet:I am Charlotte Vanhaevermaet, contributor at the media desk in Antwerp Expo. I study Multilingual Professional Communications. View less ▲
September 16, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Belgium
Unified cooking at the olympic town
By Ayla Colman
Christer Elfving and his cooking team
Every day a group of students with autism and a head chef cook at the Olympic Town. It’s called Unified Cooking.View Story ▼Every day a group of students with autism and a head chef cook at the Olympic Town. It’s called Unified Cooking. Some impressive chefs cooperate, like Wout Bru and Viky Geunes.
The students come from a cook school for students with autism. “The main goal of the school is to prepare the students for the circumstances in a normal working space,” says teacher An Martens. “In June, we started with the preparation for this week. If we don’t start that early, there could be too much changes for the students. That could be compared with a lot of stress. But the students are very enthusiastic.”
Yesterday’s chef Christer Elfvings hopes that the students will keep on working in the cook area. “The main goal is not only to awake the Olympic fire, but also the fire in the cooking station.” The chef would love to work together with the students in the future. “I’ve done a lot of projects like this and I always try to hold the contact with my colleagues. In the kitchen you can always use some help.”
About Ayla Colman:I am a Belgian volunteer as a reporter at the media centre of Special Olympics 2014View less ▲
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Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!