Ever since I started interviewing the “Real Heroes” of the Special Olympics, it seems like I run into people involved in the games everywhere I go!
I’ve always been fascinated by people’s stories and standing in line gives me the opportunity to talk to someone I might never have met otherwise. Waiting for my flight, I met a lovely young woman named Victoria Veit. When I told her what I did, she revealed her involvement with Special Olympics. It turns out she had been a Unified Partner, which is a volunteer for the Special Olympics, in New Jersey! I immediately knew I had to get an interview from her. It was my lucky day!
A Unified Partner’s duties include making sure that the athletes have all their needs met, from meals to bedtime. They also serve as their cheerleader as well as a mentor. The group she is in charge of ranges in age between the 16-21 and they participate in track and field events. They race 100, 500 meter runs and also the relays. She told me that even the volunteers get an opportunity to participate in the relay races right along with the athletes. This helps her to keep in good shape, build closer relationships with the athletes and creates a bond that enables them to maintain friendships for life. Even when there is not a meet planned, they all still get together on Sundays and enjoy getting out and continuing their social interaction and fun exercise.
Victoria shared with SpecialNeeds.com that becoming a Unified Partner for Special Olympics was something her best friend had recommended she try, since she is a natural at helping people. This seemed a great opportunity so she went and spoke to a coach that was involved with the Special Olympics. The coach told her all that it entailed to be a Unified Partner and Victoria was convinced that volunteering was a good fit for her. The experience was so profound it inspired her on which career path she should take. Now she is working during the summer with Special Needs children and is going to be an occupational therapist. She says that working with the kids really brightens her day and knows that this will help her with her future career choice.
Victoria has made some really great friends for life and loves that they continue to inspire and care for one another. Here are some quotes from a couple of Victoria’s co-volunteers to inspire others that may want to work for the Special Olympics and other worthy causes:
“Being a unified partner is one of the best decisions I could have made. To help these amazing athletes is a true honor. Working with the Special Olympics confirmed my passion to become a special education teacher.” -Dominic Lanza
“I absolutely love the kids and I really enjoy helping them during the games and seeing their happy faces during the whole thing. It makes me happy when they’re happy.” – Marguerite Lanza
To be a volunteer for the Special Olympics please visit http://www.specialolympics.org/volunteers.aspx