One Volunteer’s Story from the 2020 Winter Games
By Savannah Taylor
I spent Saturday, February 21st as a volunteer on the Emergency Medical Staff for the 2020 Special Olympics New York Winter Games. And let me say, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I was there from a little before 7 a.m. to a little after 10 p.m. Although it was a 15-hour day, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Because, now that I’m home and able to reflect, there’s one fact I now recognize as true: Special Olympics truly is what the name says. It’s special!
I witnessed athletes who care about more than the game. They care about the passion, drive, and character they put into it. I also worked with many volunteers who helped remind me what EMS is really about: Serving the community.
I can honestly say I would spend money to watch Special Olympics competition rather than watch any high school, college, or professional sports for free. Here’s why.
First off, I witnessed the most kind and caring people I have ever seen. In one game, I witnessed an athlete who kept falling down, yet a member of the opposing team helped him up every time he fell. The idea of helping someone on the opposite team astonished me. It’s rare to see that at the high school level. I was glad to see the caring nature of the athletes.
Secondly, every interaction I had with any athlete was lovely. They thanked me for volunteering, asked me questions, and were genuinely interested. Many athletes approached me just to express how happy they were to attend the Games. Honestly, seeing how happy they were made me realize how happy I was to be there.
And lastly, the group of volunteers I worked with taught me many invaluable lessons. I learned so much about creating a kind, friendly, and caring atmosphere, as well as new methods of doing paperwork and new ways of doing things to get around barriers.
It was amazing how this wonderful group of people took time out of their lives and jobs just to help the community. The volunteers had a positive demeanor with the athletes, coaches, and other staff throughout the event. They took their time and did everything they could to get the athletes back on the field as soon as possible. Many of the volunteers I worked with also reminded me why I love EMS and why I should never leave it.
All in all, Winter Games was amazing, and I can’t thank those who gave me this opportunity enough. It was so rewarding to be a part of Special Olympics New York.