Special Olympics seeks volunteers to assist with annual athletic event

Faith Mote
Staff Writer

Student Services Office is seeking volunteers as the university prepares to host Alabama’s Special Olympics in May.
For the past eight years, Troy University has hosted Alabama’s Special Olympics.
The mission of Special Olympics is “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”
Special Olympics Alabama offers athletes a variety of Olympic-type sports to compete in including softball, football, powerlifting, bowling, aquatics and tennis. Athletes train throughout the year in their local areas to prepare for the state meet.
Many areas around the state of Alabama have special needs facilities where adults and children with disabilities are able to meet one another and practice their prospective sports.
Places like the Exceptional Foundation in Birmingham are non-profit organizations that provide special needs adults and children with the opportunity to attend after school programs and summer camps where they can enjoy social and recreational activities.
Organizations such as the Exceptional Foundation have Special Olympic teams that they prepare to bring to the games in Troy.
Once an athlete has competed at the state level, he or she has the opportunity to compete nationally at the United States Special Olympic games held every year in New Jersey.
While competing, athletes are empowered to realize their full potential and as a result often become fulfilled and productive members of their families and communities.
The Special Olympics is a global movement that improves the lives of people with disabilities through sports training and competition. In turn, the athletes improve the lives of those around them.
Dean Herbert Reeves, who serves as co-chairman of the Special Olympics along with Ann Riddle from the state office, is asking for student volunteers.
To host the games, around 400 volunteers are needed to help with the games and different events associated with the weekend.
Volunteers will be assisting the state game coordinators with the events by serving as judges, timers, record keepers, cheerleaders, and encouragers to the athletes.
Reeves says that the most rewarding part of being involved with the Special Olympics at Troy University is, “The excitement and joy it brings to the athletes competing in the events and activities hosted. [It] creates a huge public awareness for Troy and Special Olympics across the state.”
Zahra Qureshi, a junior psychology major from Dothan, volunteered in 2012 and says, “It was rewarding to spend part of my summer with them and see the smiles on their faces.”
The state Special Olympics will be hosted at Troy University on May 16-18.
Students may sign up to volunteer by filling out a volunteer form that can be found in the Student Services office, 231 Trojan Center. They may also e-mail specialolympics@troy.edu for more information.

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