By Margaret Liendo
On Sunday, October 18, 108 dedicated volunteers and 75 amazing athletes came out to participate in this year’s New York State Special Olympics at the John A. Danzi Athletic Center. As a first-year volunteer, I was able to experience first hand the impact that this great event has on the athletes. This day is not only about having a good time and enjoying each other’s company, but also about the greatness that each athlete can achieve through the different games they participate in.
As Pat Tracy, campus minister, put it, the “mission was to make the gym into a rousing celebratory event for the Special Olympics.” The STARS (Students Taking an Active Role in Society) club coordinated this great event. Different organizations also came to help out, such as SJC Radio, the women’s lacrosse team, and the ladies from Kappa Beta Gamma, each contributing something special to the event.
With cheering crowds and smiling faces, our volunteers brought out the best in each of the athletes. They all cheered on the Olympians as they made their way into a roaring gymnasium pumped by the theme from Rocky. Master of ceremonies, Jase Panebianco, began this year’s games with high-spirits and for the next few hours, there was nothing but fun and games!
Athletes took part in different adapted games, such as basketball, bowling and lacrosse. They even showed their moves at the dance floor! After the games, the fun continued with the award ceremony, which was especially incredible and touching because their happiness and carefree joy could be felt as each Olympian received his or her golden medal. The event finally concluded with a charismatic and interactive performance by Jester Jim, who did some pretty incredible feats and cool juggling acts.
Whether it was your first year (like me) or not, helping out at Special Olympics was a very unique and humbling experience. With all of these fun things to do and the great memories made, it’s no wonder our volunteers keep on coming back! We hope to see many more faces at next year’s Special Olympics, because I know for sure I’ll be coming back!