Special Olympics athlete Eric Murphy celebrates after scoring two points at basketball practice.

Special Olympics athlete Eric Murphy celebrates after scoring two points at basketball practice.

Special Olympics needs volunteers

Special Olympics in Vernon has a large group of very enthusiastic athletes and volunteers are needed in a variety of roles

Are you looking for a way to participate in sports, be inspired, and have an impact on your community? Special Olympics in Vernon is growing, and that means additional volunteers are needed. More than 140 adults, youth and children who have an intellectual disability participate in Special Olympics programs. It takes more than 100 volunteers to support these programs. They help as coaches and sport volunteers, fundraisers, and board members.

Sandee Carson is head coach of the bowling program. Every Saturday afternoon, from September to April, she greets the enthusiastic bowlers who fill Lincoln Lanes. She’s seen bowling grow a lot over the years, and now there’s a wait list of athletes wanting to play.

There are many recreational bowlers who like to visit with friends and participate on a team, but there are also many skilled bowlers who appreciate the opportunity to improve every week. They look forward to regional and provincial competitions.

“Our volunteer needs are as diverse as our athletes,” said Carson. “We need volunteers who have bowling experience and are interested in coaching. We also want those who may not have the skills to coach, but are willing to supervise athletes and help out as needed. Special Olympics is a great way to help others develop and succeed.”

Youth volunteer Ava Ready believes that youth should take advantage of the opportunities to volunteer for Special Olympics.

“It’s such an amazing experience,” she said. “Not only do you get to help others and teach the athletes, but you also learn a lot about yourself.”

Ready coaches basketball and FUNdamentals, a program to introduce sport skills to children. She also helps promote Special Olympics in the community. She’s been able to take advantage of the free training offered by Special Olympics, and do some travelling with athletes.

The 2015-16 season starts with six sports: basketball; bowling; floor hockey; swimming; power lifting; and curling. Volunteers are needed for all sports, as well as FUNdamentals and Club Fit, the Special Olympics’ fitness program.

Athlete Erin Murphy is excited to start the new season. She plays basketball, bowls, swims and works out at Club Fit.

“My favourite sport is basketball,” said Murphy. “But I like all the other sports, too. I like the coaches — they’re very nice people”

If you are interested in the opportunity to help others as a Special Olympics volunteer, please contact volunteers@sobcvernon.ca or 250-306-8954  or see www.sobcvernon.ca