Waking up at 6:30 AM on a Sunday morning usually would not appeal to me; however, on this particular Sunday, I would be having my first Special Olympics experience. In the few weeks before the event, the campus was buzzing with hype about it, so when I woke up in the early hours of Sunday, May 7th, I was brimming with excitement. I had signed up to volunteer at the Olympic Town center during the morning shift and in the week leading up to the Olympics, my friends and I were thrilled to be able to have fun with kind, dedicated athletes.
At 7 AM, fellow freshman, Calabria DeFazio, and I arrived at Olcott and started setting up the games and booths in the gym, with the help of other volunteers. As I helped one of the leaders for the event, Jacqueline Cleary ’19, to set up a game, she commented on the Loomis-held experience, saying, “You get to know all about [the athletes] and see how much fun they’re having and how hard they’re working…when you volunteer, you get just as much out of Special Olympics as the athletes do because of all the connections you make.” During the next couple hours, I played games with athletes, as well as talked to them in between their events. Just being able to interact with these amazing people was an eye-opening opportunity that I will always remember.
At around 9:30 AM, Calabria and I got pulled from the Olympic Town center to go help with the Mini Javelin and Baseball Throw events near the track. For the next 3-4 hours, I definitely missed the heat that working indoors provided, but helping athletes get to their event and watching them complete the sport with joy and humility made the windy and cold environment non-existent. While waiting for their events, I got to sit down with the athletes and learn about their families, where they are from, what they like to do, and what interesting experiences they have.
Overall, this experience was amazing and truly one like no other. I connected with lively, funny, and humble people, and had genuine, touching conversations that I wouldn’t have had the chance to have, had I not volunteered for the Special Olympics. I cannot express how glad I am that Loomis takes the time to host this event that brings such diversity together.