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To The Special Olympics Volunteers – A Big Thank You

By: Harry R. Mackhas past Chairman, Special Olympics Okinawa

Date Posted: 2000-05-05

Over 1600 volunteers: men, women, children, students and senior citizens from every race, creed, color and religion, every profession from business people to teachers, amateur athletes and coaches dedicated their time to the Special Olympics Event two weeks ago.

They were part of the 500,000 volunteers world-wide who work year-round with the Special Olympics athletes and teams, coaching, fund raising, scoring and cheering on the athletes, as they try harder, run a bit farther and aim to do their best. Together – volunteers and athletes – revel in the skill, courage, sharing and joy that is the Special Olympics. Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Special Olympics movement and many volunteers will be quick to state that the Special Olympics touches their heart and soul more than any other volunteer activity. The magnitude of the work done by volunteers before one athlete placed a sneakered foot onto a field for the 2000 Special Olympics Okinawa Games was staggering. From telecommunications to planning athlete activities; from planning transportation, making sure each athlete was well fed, providing transportation services, entering piles of data into computers, planning for athlete and visitor medical needs, donating artistic skills, to answering telephones, volunteers have been involved in every aspect of this special event.

In all more than 34 committees worked for several years to ensure the 2000 Special Olympics Okinawa Games was the best ever. Each evening, after their workday elsewhere was over, volunteers streamed into various locations, occupying every available inch of meeting space and settled in for several hours of hard work. This scene was repeated week after week, month after month, with the fruits of their efforts only truly evident during April 22nd.

To each and every volunteer – the world says “thank you”. For your time and hard work, for the late night phone calls and meetings and the caring and the joy of sharing this great event; for each and every contribution you made – whether as a scorekeeper, awards organizer, water and ice carrier, truck driver, volunteer recruiter, photographer or translator – know that it made a difference and will continue to do so long after the 2000 Special Olympics Okinawa Games are over.

Special Olympics is not merely an organization or event. It is a movement. It is a volunteer driven movement made possible by the spirit and hard work of people from around the world, dedicated to acceptance and recognition of the capabilities of people with mental retardation.

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