Volunteer WV
Volunteer WV

Blog: Volunteer with the Special Olympics



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Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition to individuals with intellectual disabilities throughout West Virginia. Allyson Carr, Director of Special Events and John Corbett, CEO, stopped by the Volunteering In West Virginia television studio to discuss how you can get involved in the Special Olympics. 

"Sports knowledge is not necessary for volunteering with Special Olympics, but it is helpful if you intend to volunteer on the field," Carr said. The Summer Games event covers track and field, golf, tennis, etc. but the Olympic Village, dubbed the "Fun Zone," also needs volunteers. In the fun zone, there will be karaoke and a dance floor among other activities for the athletes. 

There are five state level events: Winter Games, Basketball Tournament, Summer Games, Fall Festival, and Bowling Tournament.  Events last two to three days, but a volunteer doesn’t have to commit to all days of the event. "Unless they want to, in which case, we’ll be glad to have them," Carr added. The biggest benefit to volunteers is getting to interact with the athletes. “There’s always going to be that one athlete that grabs your heart. And they don’t forget you. The next time they see you, they are going to know your name, and they are going to run up and hug you." Many volunteers have been returning every year to continue volunteering. Volunteers at events like the Summer Games will receive training upon arrival. There are more than 4,000 participants throughout the state. 

There are more events held at the county level, so people can get involved locally. They can become coaches, they can organize the program, and they can recruit others. County events occur all year long, so there are even more opportunities to get involved.

"We are always looking to introduce new sports," Corbett said. “We have been building up unified sports, which means athletes and special athletes can train and compete together, to further break down barriers." The introduction of unified sports brought a tear to the eye of the father of one of the special athletes, whose other son was a high school sports star. He said it was the first time both of his sons had played together.  Corbett added that Special Olympics Coaches are specifically trained in how to work with special athletes.

To get involved, call 304-345-9310 or visit the website here.  

Rafeal Barker also stopped by to inform us of volunteer opportunities within FestivALL. Charleston’s largest arts festival. The mission of FestivALL Charleston is to create, produce and present vibrant arts experiences and entertainment opportunities and serve as a catalyst for others in the community to do the same. During the festival, the whole city becomes a work of art! FestivALL might have wrapped up for 2019 - however, it's never too early to plan for 2020! You can volunteer by emailing Volunteer@festivallcharleston.com. You can also go to the www.festivallcharleston.com website and click on the "volunteer" tab, where you can see more information about volunteer positions and shifts that you can sign up for. Click here to learn more.

"Volunteering in West Virginia" is aired on the Library Channel Thursdays at 10am, 4pm, and 10pm; Fridays at 4am; and Saturdays at 7pm. If you missed this month's episode, view it here

Contact Information

Lisa Tignor, Lisa.A.Tignor@wv.gov