Volunteering for Special Olympics
Special Olympics is a grass-roots organization. We rely on volunteers at all levels of the movement to ensure that every athlete is offered a quality sports training and competition experience.
Special Olympics provides meaningful volunteer opportunities where you meet people, share ideas, master skills and make a difference in the lives of our athletes.
More than 1.4 million people volunteer for Special Olympics Programs around the world. It’s a group of people as diverse as they are dedicated, made up of licensed health-care providers, amateur and professional athletes, high school and college students, civic and fraternal groups, sports officials, coaches, parents, teachers, retirees and corporate employees.
Special Olympics volunteers can get involved at the state/provincial, national or international level, or offer their services locally at a Special Olympics Program in their communities.
For volunteers seeking a short commitment, there are event-specific roles such as athlete escort, scorekeeper, awards presenter or timer. Those who want to share their talents long-term can serve year-round roles such as health-care providers, coaches, officials, fundraisers and Unified Sports partners.
Team Mattel is an example of the power of corporate employee volunteerism. Since 2005, Mattel employees have volunteered in countries around the world to work with Special Olympics. Although separated by miles and culture, they have a common bond around the joy and inspiration they get from their Special Olympics experience.
Volunteering for Special Olympics helps you build greater personal and professional relationships with people of varying backgrounds throughout your community. Intellectual disability crosses social, economic, religious and cultural boundaries uniting people around a common cause of creating a more inclusive and accepting world.
Most volunteers expect only to help Special Olympics athletes have fun for a day. Many are surprised to find that they benefit as well. The athletes’ enthusiasm, abilities and determination break down longstanding myths, change attitudes and create for many a new way to look at others and live their life.
The greatest yardstick for measuring a volunteer organization’s success is when those who benefit give back and volunteer themselves. Many Special Olympics athletes use their experiences and knowledge to help their local Special Olympics Programs by working in administrative roles, in public relations, and as coaches, officials and more.
Special Olympics Nippon volunteer Ryosuke Niwa shares, “I learned that having a disability is a small thing, and that what counts is what we have in our hearts. Special Olympics not only brings opportunities to expand the capabilities of persons with intellectual disabilities, but it also increases everyone's capabilities as human beings.