We all know that there are many worthy causes to give our time and money to. A very special group that utilizes thousands of volunteers is the Special Olympics. June of 1962, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a summer day camp for children and adults with intellectual disabilities at her home in Maryland.
Camp Shriver was the predecessor to the Special Olympics. When Mrs. Shriver declared the first Special Olympics open in Chicago, July, 1968, she lead 1,000 athletes from 26 states and Canada onto Soldier Field. From that time until the present, the Special Olympics have grown to more than three million athletes in over 150 countries. The Winter Special Olympics were held in Canada this past February; summer games will be in Athens, Greece, in 2011.
Special Olympics offers year-round sports training and athletic competition in all fifty states of the U.S. Texas has more than 44,000 volunteers that help with the daily workouts and keep the contests running smoothly. In addition to helping with events, they coach athletes, help with fund raising, coordinate events, work in offices, and serve on committees. Volunteers are the backbone of this organization. More than 1.5 million individuals around the globe donate their time to giving children and adults with intellectual disabilities or physical disabilities the chance to compete and make friends with others from outside their own communities.
Those youngsters age 14 or under who want to volunteer to help with Special Olympics, must be accompanied by an adult. What better way for a parent and their child to experience the joy of helping others could there be? If you live in a city that is home to a Special Olympics office, contact them and offer your help. If not, there are plenty of other ways to help. Check the Special Olympics website for all types of information. These great athletes can teach us about spirit, determination, and sportsmanship.