Volunteer Opportunities Offer Growth for Participants And Mentors Alike

Lexi Corral and her buddy Chris

Lexi Corral and her buddy Chris

Volunteering to help someone in need is always a virtuous act, especially when it comes to helping children with special needs.

I have volunteered to help with special needs children three times in the past two years, helping them play a variety of sports and active games. Whenever I see a child who is not always able do things that another child can do, I find it especially rewarding to see the joy in his face when throwing a ball to a friend. Children with special needs have a hard time joining sports teams at school or a club team because they don’t have the same capabilities as other children at their age. For this reason, events like the Special Olympics and the Tournament of Champions are held to give everyone a chance at experiencing the thrill of competition.

My personal volunteer experience began at McDaniel College. Every year, the college hosts the Special Olympics in March. The event takes the form of an all-day basketball tournament and is organized by the McDaniel Student Athletes Advisory Committee (SAAC). SAAC is an organization run by student-athletes at McDaniel, who comprise a third of the school’s student body. The committee was established as a vehicle for student athletes to help make changes that will improve athletics on campus.

In addition to the Special Olympics, McDaniel’s “Tournament of Champions” is another event for which I have volunteered. This event, held in April, is for students in grades K-12 with orthopedic, visual, and behavioral needs who participate in regular education classes. There are several modified activities for participants including football throwing, basketball shooting, running, wheelchair dashes, and parachute activities. When I volunteered, I was assigned a buddy to guide through the different activities around the gym. My buddy was a twelve year-old boy named Chris and I had an amazing time with him. He was a little shy at first, but once we started playing the different games he finally warmed up to me. Chris’s face lit up while he was riding around on the scooter, which made me so happy and reminded me why I love volunteering for this event.

One of the greatest things about being a student-athlete at McDaniel is that we all come together to join in helping out these children. I play volleyball here, and my team and several other McDaniel athletes join in annually to helping host these events. Volunteering with children with special needs is an incredible and worthwhile experience. It makes the children feel like they can do anything and in the end, this confidence is what matters most. Volunteering for special needs children and helping them play a sport changed me as an athlete because I now see how privileged and blessed I am to be able to play the sport I love most.