General Mills Volunteers Key to Area 2/5 Spring Games

On Sunday, April 26, an estimated 750 Special Olympics Illinois athletes competed in athletics (track & field) at the Area 2/5 Spring Games at North Central College in Naperville.

This event wouldn’t be possible without the generous support from volunteers like Rick and Sharon Hernandez. Rick and Sharon, who are a part of the General Mills Community Action Council, have championed a group of 20 co-workers and friends to volunteer at Spring Games for years.

Rick Hernandez, in red shirt, runs the softball throw venue at Area 2/5 Spring Games
Rick Hernandez, in red shirt, runs the softball throw venue at Area 2/5 Spring Games

This group runs a softball throw area as well as awards. They have even developed (and perfected) their own color coding system to help the Games run smoothly.

Despite their efficiency, they run a little behind schedule each year because of the care and time put forth making the athletes’ day a special one.

Rick says, “I always tell my volunteers that if we can make their day special, then I guarantee that they will make our day special.”

Rick especially loves meeting the athletes. One year while volunteering he escorted an athlete named Darius through the softball throw line. He asked Darius what time it was and confused, Darius shrugged. Rick said, “It’s Darius time.” Darius went on to win his division and as he accepted his medal he said, “It’s Darius time!”

This group also recaps each year’s event with a special photo montage.  “The memories that we make are my favorite parts of the Spring Games,” said Rick.

Special Olympics Illinois is grateful for the support from General Mills and all the volunteers who make their events a success.

“We rely on volunteers to help run every aspect of Spring Games,” says Area 2 Director, Amy Kaylor. “But even more importantly, the athletes look forward to the friendship and encouragement they receive from the volunteers.”

By Alexandra McMillin, Manager of Communications