Special Olympics is about transforming lives, including your own. It is about a spirit of giving and teamwork. It is about making your community and neighborhood a more welcoming and accepting place for people of all abilities. It is also about creating lifelong friendships and finding a new way of thinking about others. Our volunteers include coaches who work with athletes many times a week, the people who help organize and plan our local and state competitions, health professionals that provide free health screenings, scorekeepers, the clean-up crew, the fundraisers and those who provide administration duties in our office...just to name a few. All around Florida, Special Olympics trainings, competitions, health & fitness, and fundraising events are happening 365 days a year.
Get involved -- become a volunteer!
Below are testimonials shared with us by some of our volunteers!
"Once you volunteer at any Special Olympics Florida
event, you are hooked for life. I love awarding the medals to the athletes. They light up the room with their smiles,
their joy, and the way they encourage and support each other. I feel
very humble by the experience."
Harry Rother Orange County, Event Volunteer, Knights of Columbus More than ten years involved with Special Olympics Florida
best thing about volunteering with Special Olympics is seeing the pure
joy and excitement on a new athlete's face that is wheelchair bound and
has never been able to participate in any sport and even has limited
access to play at recess. Watching him play has been very special."
Monroe County, Coach Three years involved with Special Olympics Florida
organization has an incredible impact on individuals with disabilities
in so many ways such as health & wellness, professionalism, skill
development, social skills, etc. I love seeing the look of accomplishment on the athletes’ faces and the relationships built with one another."
Miami-Dade County, Event Volunteer Four years involved with Special Olympics Florida
"My son participates, and I love working with all the amazing athletes. My favorite part about volunteering is the smiles and excitement the athletes have for their accomplishments as well as their pure enjoyment."
Karen Mauldin Okaloosa County, Coach
Eleven years with Special Olympics Florida
"What I love most about volunteering is meeting and helping others. My most memorable moment was going to Seattle as a Unified partner in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games as a bowler"
Scott Savel Putnam County, Unified partner Ten years with Special Olympics Florida
"Every moment I spend with our athletes is memorable. With each and every volunteer opportunity, I feel so blessed to just be a part of. The joy and smiles on the athletes' faces just to have the opportunity to compete is so rewarding. The volunteer oath sums it up perfectly... 'in giving I receive so much more in return.' "
Marcia McAdams Columbia County, Event Volunteer
Eighteen years with Special Olympics Florida
"Volunteering with Special Olympics feels more like one big family
rather than just a team. We have the most fun coaching the
athletes, and seeing the joy on their faces is priceless. One of my most
memorable moments is when we were in Orlando for the Special Olympics
Florida State Summer Games and seeing the athletes come together for the
opening ceremony and feeling liked they belong to such a strong
community...because they do. That was a beautiful sight to see."
Jamie Handy Duval County, Unified partner Two years with Special Olympics Florida
"I volunteer with Special Olympics Florida because I’m passionate about inclusion and the need for acceptance and understanding within our schools and students. My favorite thing about volunteering is seeing the growth within our athletes and our partners."
Kelly Mangel Monroe County, Coach Two years with Special Olympics Florida
"I love the global purpose of Special Olympics Florida – sports and inclusion. I like helping an athlete with new skills and opening doors to new opportunities."
Valerie Bauwens Miami-Dade County, Coach Five years with Special Olympics Florida
"I volunteer with Special Olympics to make a difference in the lives of athletes and help them to gain confidence in themselves and their abilities. My favorite part about being a volunteer isseeing the smile on their faces as they cross the finish line, or seeing them jumping for joy as they make that basket, or seeing them make new friends with similar interest."
Kerri Berenguer Miami-Dade County, Coach Four years with Special Olympics Florida
"I have a passion to spread the message of inclusion and Special Olympics does an incredible job of reaching people. I love competing in different Unified sports where everyone works together as a team. I also enjoy working with athlete leaders and seeing how everyone’s confidence grows as we become the leaders of the inclusion revolution."
Logan Alvarez Miami-Dade County, Unified partner and mentor Eleven years with Special Olympics Florida
"I love having an opportunity to interact with the athletes! This is the best part. I enjoy striving towards new goals and competing as a Unified partner with my favorite athlete. One of my favorite memories was being part of the bowling skills competition. I received so many hugs, smiles and even tears!"
AJ Savysky Miami-Dade County, Unified partner Nine years with Special Olympics Florida
"I have seen so many people that were nonverbal, not sociable, and limited in their
abilities...and then witness the transformative power of not only
sports, but engaging with others while participating in fundraising and
Torch Run. I know Special Olympics is not just about sports -- it’s about
improvement of the entire person."
Rick Schichtel Port St. Lucie Police Department Twenty years with Special Olympics Florida
"I love coaching the athletes to compete and get better at whatever sport they do. My favorite part about volunteering is going to the practices where the athletes get better and have fun."
Jacob Sapp Orange County, Coach Three years with Special Olympics Florida
"I volunteer to make an impact in my community and to help change lives through sports. Being able to work with amazing like-minded volunteers makes the journey even more meaningful.My most memorable moments are watching parents realize their child is capable of doing more than anyone ever thought was possible!"
Silvia Haas Orange County, Coach Seventeen years with Special Olympics Florida
"I love sharing my energy with the talented athletes, and I am surrounded by a huge family with Special Olympics Florida and my local program. The rewards are endless. My favorite part of volunteering is just smiling and sharing positive energy. My favorite memories are participating in the torch run and watching each athlete win."
Kim Burton Orange County, Event Volunteer Sixteen years with Special Olympics Florida
"My favorite part of volunteering is helping the athletes participate and to have them feel included.My most memorable moment was my first time coaching. Everyone made me feel so welcomed."
Sheldon Burns Orange County, Coach Three years with Special Olympics Florida
"The reason I started volunteering -– and the reason I continue –- is the bond you form with the athletes and their parents. The smiles on their faces when they realize they can swim a lap on their own -– and realizing you may be helping. The athletes develop more confidence that will benefit them as they grow. If I had to pick one memory, it would be seeing a swimmer I worked with for years, swim 25 yards with no help. He had cerebral palsy and needed help keeping his head above water. But he was relentless and never stopped trying -- ultimately swimming 25 yards on his own."
Curtis Wagner Orange County, Coach Twelve years with Special Olympics Florida
"Every year the final leg impacts me 100 percent. It is breathtaking. It brings you to a point where you just go 'wow'. They’re so happy to be here and so excited to see law enforcement officers run into the stadium. It
makes me feel good to see the athletes happy and with a smile on their face. People need to be aware of the athletes and to treat them with respect.
Angee Vega Osceola County Sheriff's Office Twenty-one years with Special Olympics Florida
"I love being inspired by the hard work and performance of the athletes and their families."
Hayden Alamo Hillsborough County, Event Volunteer Two years with Special Olympics Florida