Students volunteer at the Erie City Special Olympics

Salina Bowe photo: Many students volunteered to help make the Erie City Special Olympics a successful event.Salina Bowe photo: Many students volunteered to help make the Erie City Special Olympics a successful event.

The Mercyhurst Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Education Department coordinated a group of students and faculty members to volunteer at the Winter Special Olympics on Thursday, Feb. 6, at Peek‘n Peak Resort.

The Winter Special Olympics is an annual event where more than 200 special needs athletes compete in outdoor events, such as cross country skiing and snowshoe. Volunteers were not limited to education majors or members of CEC.

Students assisted an athlete over the course of the day by helping them retrieve their equipment and cheering them on at their events. After the competition was over, everyone returned to the “Olympic Village” for various crafts and activities. Volunteers enjoyed decorating cookies, eating lunch and face painting with their buddies.

“You create a special bond with the athletes that you will never forget; personally, they inspire me. They prove everyone wrong that may underestimate what they can do. When the day is over, you look forward to next year and what bigger and better experience we can bring for the athletes,” said senior Kelley Hynes, who, with the assistance of Assistant professor of education Susan Johnson and the rest of the department, helped to organize the event and volunteers.

Each athlete got at least one ribbon for participation.

“I look forward to the Olympics every year,” said Harry Henderson, who won first place in cross-country skiing. “I’m really proud of myself. I trained really hard, and I think it paid off.”

For more volunteer opportunities like this one, keep an eye on The Weekender and the Mercyhurst Campus Ministry newsletter for announcements about upcoming events.