4 great ways to get involved with Special Olympics

While volunteering at the 2012 Special Olympics of Pennsylvania Summer Games, on the campus of Penn State University, I was given the responsibility of being an evaluator.

The task was simple, yet detailed:

visit assigned venues (in my case, basketball, equestrian sports, and the Olympic Village);

assess the event for safety, fairness, and accessibility;

and gather feedback from the athletes, coaches, fans, event coordinators, medical response teams, officials, and volunteers.

Overwhelmingly, the feedback was positive! It took very little prodding for people to tell me their stories of involvement and about how much they appreciate what the Special Olympics do for the athletes and their communities.

For me, I’ve already made plans to join Special Olympics later this year at Villanova University for the Fall Festival Games (go bocce ball!) -- I hope that tells you how much I love this organization.

{Here A Year’s YouTube Channel has videos from the SOPA’s Summer Games.}

4 ways to get involved with Special Olympics

This covers everything from one-day help at an event (like setting up, officiating a game, coordinating an event, etc.) to being a part of a management team or fundraising program. There’s a place for everyone on all different levels!

It costs approximately $250/athlete to participate in the Special Olympics of PA. Moneys go toward activity expenses, transportation, lodging, uniforms, etc. Why not seek out an athlete to sponsor in your community or hold a fundraiser for your local chapter?

There’s a bit more responsibility and commitment being a coach, but the reward that comes from filling this role is well worth the extra effort. Whether you have a sports background or not, you can still get involved as a coach, mentor, or organizer. Check with your local Special Olympics group to see what positions are available.

Currently, there are over 20,000 Special Olympic athletes in Pennsylvania, but there are over 300,000 people in the state of Pennsylvania with an intellectual disability that qualify to participate. If you know of someone who might be interested in competing, take the initiative to get involved with them.

Overall -- be a fan!

To request more info, or to get started with Special Olympics in PA, head over to www.specialolympicspa.org. And if you’re not in Pennsylvania, go to www.specialolympics.org to search for your local chapter.

{A big thank you to Eric Cushing, vice president of development & marketing for the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, for sharing with me his own involvement with the organization and about how others can get connected.}

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