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Swim and Dive Volunteers at Arizona’s Special Olympics

Chloe Merriweather

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Bright and early on Saturday, October 13th, Mountain Ridge Swim and Dive team went to volunteer at Arizona’s Special Olympics swim event at the West Valley YMCA in Litchfield.

“Volunteering felt really good especially since I have a little sister with special needs, and I think that people don’t give enough attention to them,” said Kaylee Ogden, junior.

Special Olympics is an organization offering people with intellectual disabilities a chance to learn lessons and improve their life skills. Training for their sports enhances the athletes focus and teaches them perseverance. Special Olympics is often the only place for them to participate in their communities. Most people do not know that Special Olympics includes both kids and adults.

“The little girls I was with were amazing. They all competed really well, and I applaud them,” said Heidi Rolston, senior.

Only in recent years has the MRHS Swim and Dive team volunteered at Special Olympics. They used to do the Susan G Korman walk for the cure. The team always volunteers at a community event once during the season. In the early weeks of the season the team had a car wash to raise money for Special Olympics. This year they raised about $550 to give to Special Olympics of Arizona.

“Talking to the athletes and working with friends at Special Olympics was very rewarding,” said Matt Pedersen, senior.

Once the team checks in with the volunteer tent, they either are told to help with timing or staging. There are three timers to a lane that help record the athlete’s time and cheer them on during their race. The people sent to staging receive a group of athletes and they all sit together until their event is called to the starting blocks. While waiting for their events the athletes are talking the volunteers’ ears off, which is some the volunteers’ favorite memories.

“Seeing them complete the race, even if they lost, they still had a smile on their face,” said Ben Crabb, freshman.

Volunteering impacts the team in many ways, because not only is it good team bonding but they experience giving back to their community together. Some years the team even has one of their one teammates compete, Carlie Biernot.

“I liked volunteering because seeing the smiles on the athletes’ faces made me happy,” said Odessa Treese, sophomore.

Every year the team makes memories that they will cherish for a long time, especially this year with the team getting soaked in the rain. Everyone is looking forward to next year’s event.

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