During Women’s History Month, seven women, one from each Special Olympics Region, shared their unique stories of what it was like to participate in and plan a World Games.
What World Games will you be involved in and what will your role be?
I will be involved in the World Games in Berlin, Germany in 2023 and I will be the first athlete to be an Assistant Technical Delegate in a World Games.
How can we increase the participation of female Technical Delegates in Special Olympics?
Sometimes, we get who we get. A lot of the folks who are returning have had previous experience and the easiest thing is to go through them, so you don’t have to train someone. There needs to be more mentorship opportunities out there. Although, it’s great to have the same volunteers over and over, after a while, they are going to retire and we need to develop our system to focus on recruiting more women. Anyone can do this job, they just have to have people believe in them.
What are you most looking forward to about being an Assistant Technical Delegate for the World Games in Berlin?
At the World Games in Los Angeles in 2015, Daniel Leake from Special Olympics Virginia was the Technical Delegate for the volleyball venue and he encouraged me to apply to become an Assistant Technical Delegate. He and I went back and forth and he believed in me. I did not register in 2019, I just stayed as an official instead.
When the 2022 USA Games in Orlando offered the first-ever Assistant Technical Delegate role for athletes, I assumed World Games would follow the same process. When I got the email to sign up for Assistant Technical Delegate for World Games Berlin 2023, I did not see an athlete option listed. I thought about it and decided to apply for the role anyway. I did the interview and was accepted.
If I can rappel 30 stories (being afraid of heights) six years in a row to fundraise for Special Olympics, I am up for being the first athlete Assistant Technical Delegate at a World Games.
Do you have a female mentor who has helped encourage your success within Special Olympics?
I have two and they are both on staff with Special Olympics North Carolina. Leslie Moyar, Vice President of Development for North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run, and Kelly Vaughn, Special Olympics North Carolina Senior Vice President.
Leslie is the type of person who has been there for me, even when she is extremely busy. She will take time to chat with me, encourage me, even when she is busy. I always know I can go to her and talk about my experiences inside and outside of Special Olympics and she is very supportive.
Kelly has been more involved in my life since I started volunteering once a week and has really developed my career here as a Special Olympics North Carolina employee. She has taken me under her wing and taught me things I didn’t learn in school. She’s been there when I’ve had my struggles. Overall, she’s a great person to work for and have as a friend.
After this role, what is your next goal for your involvement with Special Olympics?
“The sky is limit.” Someday, I would like to definitely be a Technical Delegate for the volleyball venue for Special Olympics USA Games or World Games or be a co-CEO. I believe that athletes can do it. I have also thought about being a local program coordinator.