Kimberley/Cranbrook Special Olympics is looking to gain volunteers as they hold a registration event on April 13th.
“If they are interested in volunteering in some capacity we are looking for coaches, board members and just program volunteers. We are also always looking for athletes,” said Joanne Thom, local coordinator, Kimberley/Cranbrook Special Olympics.
Thom has been a volunteer with Special Olympics for 29 years, and she says she feels awarded every day she volunteers.
“When I approach volunteers I ask them to commit to three to four sessions, and after those sessions, if our athletes haven’t grabbed a big chunk of your heart then Special Olympics isn’t for you,” she said.
“There is very few people that come try it out and don’t stay in some capacity.”
It has been nearly three decades for Thom with the organization. While she joined because of her daughter Erin, she says she couldn’t see herself doing anything else.
“It grabs a piece of your heart – the athletes grab a piece of your heart. I can’t think of another organization that is as beneficial to so many people. What they do for athletes and individuals with intellectual disabilities is just phenomenal,” she said.
There are multiple programs available through the Special Olympics, including bowling, swimming, golf, curling, Club Fit and more.
“The more athletes that come out, the more fun it is for everybody. We know there are a lot of athletes here in town, or a lot of people with intellectual disabilities that aren’t accessing our programs, so we invite them to come out and try us out. To give us a shot and to visit — watch different programs,” said Thom.
The organization wouldn’t be able to run without volunteers and the support they receive. Their yearly budget is spent on sporting functions for travel, facility rentals, uniforms and more for the athletes.
It’s not a huge time commitment of the volunteers, Thom explains it all depends on the position volunteers take on.
Currently, there are more than 30 volunteers with the Kimberley/Cranbrook club, and that’s a minimum number they want to maintain.
The club has also had help with college students helping out and high school students who have required volunteer hours they need to complete.
“Once you get a taste of it, even if you move on, then you have the background that you can help with Special Olympics anywhere you go,” said Thom.
Information will be set up at Tamarack Centre from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 13 where a table will be set up with current volunteers and athletes there to answer questions about recruitment.