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Introduction

  1. In Seattle, nine young athletes began racing in the 100-yard dash as the gun went off.
    1. All except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry.
    2. When the other eight runners heard the boy cry, every single one of them turned around and ran to his side.
    3. One girl with Down syndrome kissed him and said, “This will make it better.”
    4. Then all nine linked arms and walked to the finish line—together.
  2. These athletes were competing in the Special Olympics.
  3. Founded in 1968, Special Olympics encouraged the world to understand that people with disabilities can be respected, valued, contributing members of society.
  4. One of those children that crossed the finish line could have fallen into your arms, or some day one of them could be your own child.
  5. After working as a volunteer for Special Olympics and doing additional research for this speech, I want to encourage you to donate your time as a Special Olympics volunteer.

(TRANSITION: We’ll start by looking at the need for volunteers.)

Body

  1. As Special Olympics has grown over the years, so has the need for volunteers.
    1. Today more than 1.3 million athletes compete in Special Olympics around the world.
      1. Participants must be at least eight years old and must be identified as having an intellectual or cognitive disability.
      2. There are currently 200 Special Olympics programs in more than 150 countries.
    2. The success of Special Olympics depends on its large corps of volunteers.
      1. Here in Wisconsin, there are 10,000 athletes and 3,500 volunteer coaches.
      2. Yet because of all the individual attention required by Special Olympics athletes, there is always a need for more coaches—and for more volunteers in other areas as well.
  2. (TRANSITION: Now that you know the need for Special Olympics volunteers, the question is: What can you do to help?)

  3. You can help by becoming a volunteer.
    1. The most obvious way is to get involved as a coach.
      1. You don’t need to be a great athlete or have prior coaching experience.
        1. Special Olympics offers a general course on the principles of coaching.
        2. It also offers a mentoring program in which new coaches receive guidance from experienced coaches.
    2. If you don’t want to be a coach, there are other ways to help.
      1. You can work behind the scenes by assisting with fund-raising or helping to organize events.
      2. You can also help with the countless other details involved in running a large organization such as Special Olympics.
    3. Your involvement in Special Olympics can last from a day to a year to a lifetime, depending on the level of commitment you want to make.
  4. No matter how you decide to help, I can guarantee you that working with Special Olympics will be immensely rewarding.
    1. As a coach, your instruction and support are vital for the athletes.
      1. You will help them develop social skills as well as athletic skills.
      2. Ronna Vanderslice, author of “Special Olympics: Beneficial to All,” reports that Special Olympics athletes develop larger networks of friends, are more likely to socialize with others, and receive more social support.
    2. It’s not just the athletes who benefit from Special Olympics.
      1. In my case, working with Special Olympics is one of the most gratifying things I have ever done.
      2. Not only do I have the satisfaction that comes from helping others, but I have met so many amazing people and made so many friends that I would not trade the experience for anything.
  5. Now I’d like to ask you to take the step of getting involved with Special Olympics.
    1. If you want more information, you can check the Special Olympics Web site or visit the local headquarters.
    2. I also have brochures with information and contact numbers that I will hand out after the speech.
    3. You may not have a lot of time available right now, but you can volunteer for the time that fits your schedule.
    4. The most important thing is to get involved in some capacity and for whatever amount of time you can manage.
Conclusion
  1. Remember the nine children I mentioned at the start of my speech.
    1. Think of their happiness and their support for one another.
    2. Think how much they gained from running in that race.
  2. Now think how you can help other people experience the same benefits as they strive to fulfill the motto of the Special Olympics: “Let me win. But if I can’t win, let me be brave in the attempt.”