UF Students Volunteer at the Special Olympics Ohio State Summer Games
Mariah Hohman, senior intervention specialist major, and Brittany Hreha, senior intervention specialist major, enjoy volunteering. This summer, Hohman and Hreha volunteered at the Special Olympics Ohio State Summer Games for the first time. It was a two-day weekend event held in Columbus at the end of June.
“I received an email in January from the officials coordinator for the State Summer Games asking for OHSAA Registered Track and Field Officials to volunteer for the track portion of the games,” said Hohman. “I have had my officiating license for four years, and I love working with individuals with special needs, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.”
Hreha heard about the Special Olympics through The University of Findlay Ohio Student Education Association, the education organization on campus. At a meeting, she learned that the Hancock County Special Olympics needed volunteers.
“I began volunteering with bowling Special Olympics in October 2012, and it went through the end of February 2013,” said Hreha. “During the same time period, I got involved with Gliding Stars, Findlay’s adaptive ice skating organization for individuals with disabilities, and from there, I went on to volunteer with Special Olympics track and field in the spring of 2013.”
During her time volunteering with the Special Olympics, Hreha helped to make sure that bowling practices ran smoothly. She oversaw one of the bowling lanes and helped the athletes with anything they needed during that time.
Prior to the state games, Hohman had volunteered with the Special Olympics at the county level several times in addition to helping with the annual Torch Run Festival, an event right before the State Summer Games each year and the annual golf outing.
At the state games, Hohman worked as a timer for the standard running events and the wheelchair events throughout the weekend. Hreha was one of four coaches who assisted in getting athletes to their events and awards while supporting them throughout the games.
“I wish that I would have started volunteering years ago because it is such an amazing opportunity to work with these individuals,” said Hreha. “At first, I decided to volunteer because I am an intervention specialist major, but I think that any major would have the time of their life volunteering with the Special Olympics.”
In addition to bowling and track, the Special Olympics hosts state competitions for volleyball, gymnastics, tennis, bocce ball, power lifting, roller-skating and more.
“There are volunteer opportunities for everyone, whether they are registered officials or not,” said Hohman. “I believe this event could be of interest to anyone who loves sports or working with children.”
By volunteering at numerous Special Olympics events, Hohman and Hreha built relationships with many of the athletes and learned a lot.
“You become a family, and everyone is very supportive of each other and seeing the athletes succeed at an event or sport they love is great, as well,” said Hreha. “It shows that nothing can get in the way of these special athletes, and they can do anything that anyone else can. I can’t wait to continue volunteering with the Special Olympics, and I strongly encourage others to get involved whenever they can.”
Written by Sarah Foltz