Special Olympics on Campus: The Rewards of Volunteering

Special Olympics on Campus: The Rewards of Volunteering

Written by: Jeremy Deemer '18

We all know Graceland has a rich history for being a caring community - it’s what makes us unique. This past weekend, over 200 Graceland volunteers (students, staff and faculty) again showed how amazing this campus truly is. Graceland University was fortunate enough to host the Special Olympics Spring Games for the South Central Iowa area.

On the cool Saturday morning, we saw volunteers show up one by one, putting on their red Special Olympics shirts. It was a special experience to me. I was able to see several smiles and overhear conversations about how the athletes, staff and faculty were excited to share this experience with the participants.

Football, cheer, dance and both basketball teams were well represented as they started off the day by welcoming the participants. The five teams formed two lines with their hands ready to receive high fives, and cheering at the top of their lungs as the athletes ran through the lines grinning ear to ear. As soon as all the Special Olympics athletes were in the stadium, the opening ceremonies started, and we were all able to hear the different cheers from each participating team. In total, there were over 180 athletes eager to compete!

I was able to work with the registration table, signing in and getting people to their events. I truly love having this job simply because I get to meet and converse with almost every athlete. Seeing their laughs and cries of excitement for their event, along with a few competitive remarks, was truly priceless. This day was all about THEM. It was neat to see the team liaisons and escorts build relationships with the athletes as they accompanied them to their respective events. By the end of the day, each volunteer had made a couple new friends and fans.

While the Special Olympics was an exhausting event, it was worth every minute of it. Being able to volunteer and make a difference in multiple participants’ lives is an experience most will never forget. With all of the events happening in everyday life and with the semester coming to a close, it was a great way to have a little fun, but ultimately give back to others.

View more photos HERE.