Michigan Special Olympics – Volunteer

Volunteering for Special Olympics Michigan is a rewarding experience. Athletes in Special Olympics do the very best they can, and how many of us can honestly say that? Volunteers help intellectually handicapped children and adults to reach their full potential, which is truly fulfilling.

The Special Olympics was created by one of the most famous volunteers of all, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Hearing that children with intellectual challenges were not accepted into summer camps or school activities, she decided to open her own ample backyard to the children. Starting with about fifty children and as many volunteers from the local high schools and colleges, she provided swimming, horseback riding, basketball, and soccer for the children of what came to be known as “Camp Shriver.” Volunteers found that as they helped the athletes, they were able to learn more about the children by interacting on a one-to-one level. The children were not more difficult or poorly behaved than any other kids. They were just basically healthy kids who wanted to have fun. Contributions from the Joseph P. Kennedy Memorial Fund also helped make Camp Shriver a success.

The Special Olympics still depends largely upon its more than 100,000 volunteers worldwide. Healthcare professionals use their expertise to check athletes to make sure they are healthy enough to participate in sports. Healthcare volunteers receive free training in the special needs of Special Olympics athletes, and are able to carry their new knowledge back to their regular full-time postions. Volunteers with special knowledge and certification in sports can serve as coaches and games officials. College students can serve on state Special Olympics Games Committees or form teams of college students and Special Olympics athletes, or be fans in the stands, cheering the athletes on.

The Special Olympics Michigan has an online form for volunteers to sign up for events that interest them. Some events coming up include the State Winter Games in February of 2013, basketball tournaments throughout March and April, cycling, hockey, and soccer games in the fall, local training and games, and fund-raising events. There are opportunities to volunteer for events held in Traverse City, Alpena, Muskegon and other areas across the state.

The organization’s website also offers opportunities to donate money or a car, or enter a raffle for prizes. Whether volunteering, donating, or both, you will have the knowledge of having helped someone special.