Monday, June 24, 2013

I've coached Special Olympics for a little over 10 years and it's one of the most enriching things I do. I've made many friends and have been taught too many lessons to count by people much, much farther up the awesome chain than I. This year the State Summer Games were held at Herriman High School. First, whoa! I was amazed at the size of the school and all of its facilities! Second, the volunteers were extraordinary! I've attended almost every Summer Games since I began coaching and the people that help are always incredible, but this year, I might have paid more attention to what everybody does. The kitchen staff were always helpful and friendly––and there were a lot of people to feed, the janitorial staff was ON IT, and all of those helping with Healthy Athletes were kind and professional, no matter how many times I interrupted to gather athletes for events. 

I can't begin to mention all of the work the volunteers do, but here are a few things I noticed––they encourage, cheer for, time, announce, stage athletes to prepare for races, guide athletes onto the track, take pictures, tape lines so the athletes (and coaches) aren't confused about where the athletes need to race, ready medals and ribbons, announce medals, make snow cones, paint faces, sing, dance, set up and take down tents, organize opening and closing ceremonies, listen, share, coach, love and on and on and on. (I haven't even mentioned the trillions of hours the paid SOUT staff put in.)

In addition to all of this, there was something I hadn't seen before this year. In a corner of the school, there was a back drop, stool, interviewer and camera where people were able to tell their personal Special Olympics story. I'd walk past the area each time I retrieved an athlete from Healthy Athletes. I was always in a hurry, but I still heard little snippets. Some were given by parents or coaches or siblings, volunteers or athletes. Storytelling is always powerful, but I can only imagine the power of these stories and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that one day I'll be able to tell about the many people with Special Olympics that have influenced me. I'll be watching for the stories they collected this year.

The thing is, all of these volunteers get together for the incredible, courageous, human, funny, witty, humbling athletes. And I am so thankful they let me be a part of it. 

Here are a few of the people I love! 







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