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Why I Give My Time to the Special Olympics

One word describes my experience as a volunteer at the Special Olympics: AWESOME.

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As a pediatrician, I know the importance of sports participation in the healthy development of children.  As a developmental pediatrician, I am thankful to the Special Olympics for providing a venue where children with special needs can participate in sports in such a grand scale.  As I read the mission statement of the Special Olympics, I cannot help but agree that through sports participation, the athletes not only improve their health, but gain confidence and fulfillment.  They also inspire people in the community and open their minds to every individual’s unique abilities and potential. 

I have always been a fan of the Special Olympics, but had not really done anything significant to support its goals.  So when I heard about the volunteer opportunity through Kaiser Permanente for the 2014 games.  I decided to take action and volunteer.  My first pleasant surprise was that when I tried to sign up, all the volunteer spots were taken!  It was heartwarming to see that people cared!  I was on a waitlist for a while, but was eventually told that I could go as a “fan on the stands.”

On the day of the event, I arrived at USC with my niece.  There were volunteers everywhere.  Everyone looked happy and eager to help.  After getting our “props” we decided to cheer on the athletes at the swimming and gymnastics events.  You could see the pride in the athletes’ faces as they walk about in their uniforms, some with medals on.  What impressed me most was the determination of these athletes, that despite their challenges they persist at achieving their goals.  One particular gymnast was wheelchair bound, had to be transferred by aides onto the mat where she performed her floor exercise.  Another gymnast made a false start, started crying, but when the judges gave her another chance, she finished her program beautifully. 

One word describes my experience as a volunteer at the Special Olympics: AWESOME.  I was inspired by both the resilience of the athletes and the selflessness of the volunteers. For those who are just thinking about volunteering, I would encourage you to go ahead and do it!  It will be worth your while.

by Rumie Su, MD
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician
Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center

Learn more about how you can help at the Special Olympics Summer World Games. They will be held in Los Angeles next summer.

Do you have a story about volunteering in the community? Share it with us by clicking “Share Your Story” at the bottom of the Be Inspired website home page!

Photo: Rumie Su, MD, left and her neice Elaine Yu, ready to cheer on Special Olympics athletes.