Special Olympics creates strong friendships between athletes, volunteers and families. That’s true for volunteers Sarah Moss, 27, of Wood Dale; Tricia Brawley, 22, of Arlington Heights; and Vicky Plikas, 32, of Mount Prospect.
Even though each had volunteered with Special Olympics for several years, the three women had never crossed paths until they met at a North Suburban Cook/Area 18 volunteer committee meeting last fall. “We were the youngest people in the committee and that’s how we bonded,” explained Brawley.
The trio found they had all volunteered for Special Olympics for several years and had teaching in common. Brawley, who starts a teaching job at Easter Seals in Chicago this fall, has volunteered for Special Olympics for six years starting in high school and continuing through her college career. Plikas, an early childhood special education teacher, has volunteered for four years, and Moss, who works in teacher benefits, has volunteered for three years.
Their friendship further developed into group texts on the weekends and watching Chicago Blackhawks hockey games together. “The more we did events, the more we talked and became closer as friends,” explained Plikas. They even planned a bar crawl for their Palatine Polar Plunge in February. Their bar crawl was a success and they managed to raise $1,000.
Brawley has volunteered at the powerlifting at Summer Games for many years and talked the other two into traveling to Normal this year to award medals at powerlifting. “We do like working together,” the trio said. “If one person can’t do it, we help each other out. It’s like a second family.”
Brawley said she particularly likes the powerlifting venue because she gets to socialize with athletes, families and coaches between handing out awards. “When I hand out awards for powerlifting, I get so many hugs and high fives throughout the day, it’s my favorite.”
It’s the total experience that attracts Moss. “When you see someone lift a weight that they’ve never lifted before or swim faster and when the Global Messengers give their speeches, it just reaffirms why I do this.”
Along with powerlifting, the three friends volunteer at most Area 18 events. “Vicky and I usually do awards and Sarah is often a court manager,” explained Brawley.
By Juan Saliba, Communications Intern