The 2024 Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games, scheduled June 7-9 in Bloomington-Normal, is set to be an inspiring weekend. This event highlights the athletes' incredible talents and shows the crucial role volunteers play to ensure its success.

While traditional volunteer roles like sports and event support are often the first to come to mind, there are many unique volunteering opportunities that promise to enrich the experience for both the volunteers and athletes.

Volunteer Spotlight: Medical Clinicians
Physical therapist notes impact of volunteering

Athlete receiving a vision screening from a medical professional

One standout Special Olympics Illinois program to have a presence at Summer Games is Healthy Athletes. This program offers Special Olympics Illinois athletes free health screenings and education and is led by volunteer clinicians. Silpa Pallapothu is a licensed physical therapist and serves as volunteer clinical director for FUNFitness. FUNFitness is a physical therapy screening that examines flexibility, strength, balance, and aerobic fitness.

"I love volunteering,” said Silpa. “I have volunteers reach out to me after an event to let me know what a great time they had and how they are excited to come back the following year.”

Healthy Athletes helps to ensure Special Olympics Illinois athletes are not only ready to perform at their best during Summer Games, but are also healthier overall.

“I love seeing the joy of the volunteers and athletes because it reminds me of the first time I volunteered as a student, and I realized for the first time how impactful I can be as a clinician,” Pallapothu adds.

Volunteer clinicians participating with Healthy Athletes also increase their knowledge of the best practices around caring for and communicating with individuals who have an intellectual disability.

View available volunteer opportunities for Healthy Athletes.

Volunteer Spotlight: Corporate Group Volunteers
Team spirit and sense of community among corporate volunteers

A group of Plane Pull participants posing for a photo beside an airplane

Corporate group volunteer outings provide another dynamic way to become involved at Summer Games. Nathan Campbell from RSM US LLP highlights the impact of corporate involvement on their staff and organization.

"Participating as a group fosters team spirit and a sense of community within our company," Campbell explains. "It's more than just volunteering; it's about building relationships and making a meaningful contribution to the athletes' experiences.”

Corporate volunteers not only assist in various volunteer roles throughout the weekend but also bring a unique energy to the event by demonstrating their commitment to community service and corporate social responsibility.

Their presence at Summer Games allows for Special Olympics Illinois to host such a large-scale event, contributing to its smooth operation.

Reach out to Amanda Spies for more information and to get your corporate group involved.

Volunteer Spotlight: Law Enforcement
Personal growth and community connection in law enforcement

Other key volunteer involvement at Summer Games comes from law enforcement officers who are members of the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR).

Illinois LETR is the largest fundraising arm for Special Olympics Illinois and at Summer Games there will be volunteer participation from more than 100 Illinois officers, being led by the Tinley Park Police Department, as they were the top fundraiser for 2023.

A police officer cheering on athletes at the Region C Spring Games event

Four departments from across the state, the O’Fallon Police Department, Geneva Police Department, Illinois State Police from Region H, and West Chicago Police Department will be leading the final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run and will carry the Flame of Hope into Opening Ceremony on the evening of Friday, June 7.

Sergeant Nicholas Schmidt of the O’Fallon Police Department emphasizes the personal growth and community connection that comes with his department’s volunteer participation, "I’ve learned so much from so many athletes over the past few years. It’s important to share their stories with the rest of the community. The more people interact with individuals with intellectual disabilities, the more they’ll choose to include."

View more information on Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Event volunteer fist bumping a powerlifting athlete

Volunteer Spotlight: You
Make a difference and create lasting memories

As the largest sporting event for Special Olympics Illinois, Summer Games draws more than 16,000 participants, including athletes, coaches, volunteers, and families.

There is a volunteering opportunity for everyone.

View available volunteer opportunities and make a lasting impact.