We Miss Our Summer Games Volunteers

Volunteers are the cornerstone of the Special Olympics movement. Our volunteers are coaches, family members, fundraisers, officials, and sponsors. They can also be Unified Partners – playing alongside athletes, or better yet, fans in the stands!

Annually, around 2,000 volunteers converge at the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games.

Without them, a weekend filled with competition, comradery, and courage would cease to exist.

“Special Olympics Illinois is fortunate to have new and veteran volunteers whose knowledge, creative input, and positivity enhance the quality of our events. These volunteers are the heart of what keeps Special Olympics Illinois alive,” said Brianna Beers, Director of State Championships.

The time, energy, education, and commitment of our volunteers are instrumental in hosting the weekend-long state competition.

For many, volunteering at Summer Games is an activity for the entire family to take part in.

Ashish (Ash) and Diana Sawhney have made volunteering at Summer Games a family affair.

Ash’s son began helping him at Summer Games 12 years ago at the age of six. His daughter also began at the age of eight and has continued volunteering for 12 years.

For long-time volunteer Dave Hayes, the legacy of volunteering traveled on from his children to his grandchildren.

Although we are not together this year, we would like to honor some of our long-time Summer Games volunteers and their years of service.


  • Alice Hoekstra: 25 years
  • Dave Hayes & Family: 43 years
  • Steve Feldman: 15 years
  • Laura Stewart: 35 years
  • Brian Hayes and Megan Hardy: 20 years
  • Ashish Sawhney & Family: 22 years
  • Jenny Panico: 24 years
  • Tricia Brawley:  9 years
  • Glen Marks: 15 years
  • Barb & Larry Needham: 30 years
  • Dara DiBendetto: 27 years
  • Fred Gafrick: 6 years
  • Cathy & Todd Alfrey:17 years
  • Jeff Findley: 20 years
  • Aubrey Findley: 18 years
  • Norbert Bendixen: 40 years
  • Gerry Schlemer: 32 years
  • Marie Reitmeier: 27 years
  • Lynn Reitemeier: 20 years
  • Kelly King: 27 years
  • Marcy Parsons: 25 years
  • Jo Pellegrino: 23 years
  • Rosie Kuhlman: 23 years
  • Bill Duffy: 44 years