By Suzanne Thompson, SOILL Board Chair
Special Olympics is transforming the lives of its athletes through sporting events, new social experiences and ultimately allowing our athletes the opportunity to share their own personal stories. These stories reflect the passion, determination and success they demonstrate in every sporting event they participate in as well as the success they experience in their everyday lives.
We have the single greatest resource available to us as an organization and international movement and that is our parents and families. We are the people who know our athletes best. Am I certain of that? Indeed I am! I am the proud parent of a Special Olympic athlete and I know that as parents we are willing to invest our time when we can see the fabulous return on our investment. I have made the commitment to the program by serving on the SOILL Board of Directors and helping guide the program into the future.
This willingness to invest our time is why Special Olympics Illinois is developing a campaign to partner with the “experts.” Even though we live in a culture where our calendars are exploding with commitments, we know that our commitment to our athletes is time well spent.
Would you be willing to make that investment with us? We are developing ambassadors who are changing the hearts and minds of people they meet each and every day of their lives as they interact with others in their communities, improving the possibilities of employment as they learn skills required of all of us.
Courtesy, following the rules, completion of task, determination, teamwork and dedication are all required when an athlete experiences Special Olympics and also required in all of our lives, if we hope to be successful. Special Olympics is a vehicle that allows all of these qualities and characteristics to be born in its participants!
As part of our Strategic Plan and our desire to involve you in this life-changing family, we need and want to move forward working closely with you. We’ll reach for continued excellence for our athletes, finding effective and creative ways to develop and sustain the sporting events we now offer, draw more athletes into the organization, raise the number of volunteers participating and discuss new and effective ways to sustain and increase our financial supporters. Who better to help us with this than the parents who have everything invested because of our athletes?
We have a big job ahead of us, but no bigger a challenge then the challenges our athletes face every day. Let’s use them as our example and show them that their determination, persistence and success are things they learned from us, their parents!
When asked how you can help this family organization, I hope you will search your heart and mind and realize that you have so much to offer in ways that can benefit all of our athletes. With your creative ideas, willingness to commit and your firsthand knowledge of your athlete, we will make a dynamic duo. Our hope is that you will be willing to make the commitment to be a part of our team, because we know that together there is nothing we cannot do!
Special Olympics Illinois has created a family volunteer interest form. Please take a moment to look it over and let us know how you’d be willing to help make a difference in the lives of Special Olympics athletes.
Do you have questions about family involvement or Special Olympics in general? Email FANS@soill.org or Karen Milligan. Either Special Olympics staff or I will answer your questions in upcoming editions of the e-news.
Suzanne Thompson of Morris is the parent of Special Olympics athlete Caitlin and Special Olympics Illinois Chair of the Board of Directors