January 15, 2006
People involved in the Special Olympics give their time and patience selflessly, but now they are asking for help.
Right now the organization desperately needs volunteers. That doesn't mean you have to be an athlete yourself--you just need a good attitude and to give-up a little bit of time.
"All you have to do is have a big smile and if you're a good hugger and can say 'that-a-girl,' or 'that-a-boy' then that's about 85 percent or 90 percent of being a volunteer," said Gene Arnold, Special Olympics Area 3 Coordinator.
Arnold started as a volunteer himself and now after 12 years of work, he's the Area Coordinator.
"I love to be in a position of helping them accomplish things and making them happy," said Arnold.
Lee Stone, for example, has been bowling for 15 years and is the winner of a gold and several silver and bronze medals.
"Just a lot of fun and plus it gives you the chance to meet a lot of people all the time and make new friends," said Stone.
One of the winter sports is bowling, which is seeing more athletes than ever before. This year there are about 80 competing.
"It's a lot of fun here. It's laid back, but there is a serious competitive atmosphere," said Stone.
The atmosphere also allows athletes to grow.
"So many young people come in really shy, withdrawn-like, and by the time they socialize with others with a handicap they just come out of themselves and it's a joy to watch them progress," said Parker Northrup, a coach.
If you are interested in volunteering, they practice at Kegler's Lanes every Sunday from about 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and volunteers just need to show-up. They also have their area tournament on February 12th.
Local Special Olympics host nine different sports throughout the year.
Right now you can also sign up for basketball on Saturday afternoons at Albemarle High School.