Since 1968, the Special Olympics has been transforming communities and giving millions of athletes with intellectual disabilities in the world the opportunity to take part in over 94 thousand competitions every year. According to the Special Olympics website, the Special Olympics has “become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities.“
Loy Norrix junior Reace Hammel got the opportunity to take part in this year’s Southwest Regional Special Olympics Michigan Winter Games which were held at Timber Ridge Ski Area in Gobles. Hammel’s Health Science Education for Employment (EFE) teacher offered students the chance to volunteer if they were interested, and she lept at the chance to be a part of the games.
“I enjoyed being a volunteer at the Special Olympics because it was really good to give back to the community and spread the love,” said Hammel.
There were several events, including alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
“First there was an opening ceremony, then they skied down the biggest hill with the torch lit, and then we split off into our events. We went to the cross country skiing course and guided them if they needed help. Then after that we got all the awards set up and we announced who won and gave them medals,” said Hammel.
Hammel, along with around one thousand other volunteers, helped to make this wonderful event possible here in West Michigan. The event gave participating athletes a chance to train for the regional winter competition and brought joy to everyone involved.
“It was amazing to see their smiles when they got their awards. Even if it wasn’t first place, they were just so happy to be there. It made me feel happy to help such a great organization,” said Hammel.