Bob Jones University is partnering with the Special Olympics program during the first weekend in November to serve the community.
On Nov. 5, the Special Olympics will hold their annual event modeled after professional Olympic Games.
This event will be held at Conestee Park in Greenville and serves people with mental and physical disabilities.
Sarah Darlin, a senior communication major, is working closely with the set-up process and spoke about the importance of this event.
“Special Olympics is an opportunity for those with special needs and their families to come together as a community,” Darlin said.
“This event is about empowering individuals to push themselves and see success powered by their own determination and hard work.”
The Special Olympics take place all across America.
BJU partners directly with the Greenville area director, Lara Celsel.
Darlin said that this Olympic event is closely connected to the community and is a way for students to interact with those in the Greenville area.
Across the country, more than 4.6 million athletes are registered to participate.
These athletes, who range from young children to young adults, will be able to participate in many different games and activities.
From the various locations across the United States, athletes will be able to enjoy a total of 108,388 different competitions through the Special Olympics program.
On the day of the Special Olympic games, participants will arrive with their parents or caregivers at a place called Olympic Village.
Throughout the day, the athletes will rotate to different locations, engaging in the planned activities.
At the end of the activities, Special Olympics holds an awards ceremony to acknowledge the athletes’ accomplishments and successes.
“[Volunteers are] essential in the running of this event,” Darlin said.
Local businesses partner with Special Olympics to provide funding for volunteer support, but without actual people helping during the event Special Olympics would not be successful.
“Organizers and volunteers work many hours before the games start to set up the Olympic Village,” Darlin said.
“Setup includes setting up all the details for each particular sport.”
This event impacts many people. Darlin believes, that in the end, all of the hard work is well worth it.
Faculty member in the School of Education and the program coordinator for the special education program at Bob Jones University, Marlene Reed, takes a group of students to the event every year.
“Participating in Special Olympics provides my students with firsthand experience understanding about the various characteristics that [they] received initial knowledge about in their Introduction to Exceptional Learners [class],” Reed said.
As Greenville’s Special Olympics draw near, students will be receiving an email requesting as many volunteers as possible to sign up.
For many families of athletes, Special Olympics is a program that changes lives all across America.
And although there are many activities and events that take up much of a student’s schedule, volunteering for the Special Olympics is a unique, rewarding experience.
It is an opportunity to experience how those with special needs live life every day and to encourage their families and caregivers.