Lake Zurich High School Student Media

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A Part of Something Special: Volunteers Help Out at Special Olympics

Athletes+participate+in+a+100m+walk+at+the+2015-2016+Special+Olympics
Athletes participate in a 100m walk at the 2015-2016 Special Olympics

Athletes participate in a 100m walk at the 2015-2016 Special Olympics

Athletes participate in a 100m walk at the 2015-2016 Special Olympics

Ria Talukder, staff writer

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If you were to drive by the high school on Sunday afternoon, you might be surprised with the packed parking lot and the many people milling about on the track and field. Wondering why that may be? The high school’s track will be buzzing with excitement on Sunday as up to 200 individuals and volunteers prepare to compete in the Area 13 Special Olympics Track and Field event.

“It’s going to be an amazing event,” Nick Hervatin, junior and student volunteer, said. “I have a lot of respect for athletes who train hard for events like these. I’m excited to give all the participants the fun day they deserve.”

Participants who compete in the Olympics are ages 8 and up and have either physical or intellectual disabilities, according to Karen Palm, special ed teacher and volunteer coordinator. Athletes come from all over and are part of either local high schools or local special needs programs. Due to the large scale of the event, Palm estimates over 200 volunteers will be helping out with this year’s event.

“A lot of students are getting involved through programs like SNAP or volunteering with their spring sport team,” Palm said. “Of the 200 volunteers, a lot of them are through the track team, baseball team, softball team, and NHS. We’re lucky these groups provide so much support for this event.”

Hervatin and Palm both acknowledge the importance of student involvement in this annual event, as it provides an outlet for special needs individuals while providing an eye-opening experience for the student volunteers. Competitions like relays, long jumps, and 100 meter walks will be held, but an aggressively competitive environment won’t be fostered. According to Hervatin, the event is more about every person involved being able to have a good time.

“I think it’s great that Special Olympics creates a place where everyone has fun and has confidence in themselves. There aren’t any labels,” Hervatin said. “As a volunteer, I’m lucky to be working with these specific kids. Volunteering in general is a really rewarding experience.”

Palm shares the same mindset as Hervatin when it comes to the benefits of volunteer work. According to Palm, it’s the volunteers and their dedication that make the whole event run smoothly. Appreciating individual differences, said Palm, is an important lesson one learns from this event and watching hard work pay off in a successful Olympics can really make a volunteer’s day. Palm encourages students to get involved through programs like SNAP, NHS, or through their spring sport teams.

“Volunteering at  this event is such a rewarding experience,” Palm said. “It’s the reason I keep coming back every year to help with this event. Their excitement, joy, and happiness being there truly makes your day. I feel really lucky to be a part of an event and organization like this.”

 

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A Part of Something Special: Volunteers Help Out at Special Olympics