Volunteers to the rescue

Students at Eaton High School took the day to volunteer at Special Olympics Track and Field

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Volunteers to the rescue

Volunteers are handing out ribbons to the participants

Volunteers are handing out ribbons to the participants

Volunteers are handing out ribbons to the participants

Volunteers are handing out ribbons to the participants

Lyndsay Walsh, Staff Reporter

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Students at Eaton High school gathered on the main football field to help set up for the second annual Special Olympics Track and Field Event on Wednesday, September 18. The students signed up to volunteer and help generate this event, and then saw the ins and outs of how a big organization like Special Olympics is set up and run. The volunteers also got to experience the effects this event had on the participants.

Students were given the opportunity to volunteer at the Special Olympics this year. Freshman all the way up to seniors met at 7:15 a.m that morning to be assigned their job for the day. They then helped unload trailers that were filled with tables, chairs, and tents that would be used for the event. Students were assigned to prepare and hand out food later that day, award ribbons to the participants, line up the participants for the events, hold the finish line, or score and place participants in first, second, third, and fourth place. Amanda Davis(23) volunteered for her first time. She said, “My experience was amazing. I got to spend the day with amazing people and encourage the kids. It honestly was very warming to my heart.” She helped prepare the hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as pass them out to the kids. When she wasn’t in the kitchen, she was outside on the field cheering the participants on and directing them to their new event. Volunteers filled the field and were visible from the stands with their bright red Special Olympic shirts. Even if the students were not assigned a specific job, they still stood on the field encouraging and promoting conversations with the participants.

As the day went on, the volunteers got to experience the event in more depth through communication and interaction with the participants. One volunteer, Grace Smith(21), had the opportunity to talk to some of the participants and verbally see the effects Special Olympics has on kids. Smith said, “I got the wonderful chance to talk to some of the kids from Eaton High School’s group and their excitement and enthusiasm really made my day.” The day made the participants smile ear to ear, as well as the volunteers. Kaeli Sandstrom, a first grade teacher at Eaton Elementary School, was in charge of running the events for the day for the second year in a row. She loves seeing the participants so excited to compete. “I also love seeing the kiddos feel so proud of their ribbons, and they tell you wherever you see them how many they have!  They do not care if it is blue or red or white. It is the best day,” Sandstrom said. 

Each volunteer from the event was able to take away one idea from the day. Everyone in society has a different view on Special Olympics, but no matter what their view is, they can take away a positive from the event. “My take away from that experience was that no matter someone’s differences, we can all come together and help each other have a fun time and encourage each other to succeed,” Smith said. It is not a guarantee that Eaton High School will host Special Olympics again, but Sandstrom said, “I hope that it continues to grow and more people come out to support them!  They feel like champions that day, which they are! We should all celebrate them in that environment.”