Comparing the Paralympics to the Special Olympics

I used to confuse the Paralympics and Special Olympics before I started volunteering and working at Special Olympics, so for this blog post, I decided to make a list of the differences between the two that I’ve noticed and learned so far.

The International Olympic Committee (which is in charge of the Olympics), the International Paralympic Committee (which is in charge of the Paralympics), and Special Olympics International (which is in charge of the Special Olympics World Games) complement each other, but there are definite differences between each of them. I am going to focus on the differences between the Paralympics and Special Olympics because these are more easily confused.

Here are the main differences between the two:

  1. The Athletes: The Paralympics welcomes athletes from six main disability categories: amputees, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, visually impaired, spinal injuries, and Les Autres (French for “the others,” a category that catches all of the disabilities that do not fall into the other categories). Special Olympics allows anyone with intellectual disabilities over the age of eight to compete.
  2. Ability LevelParalympic athletes are very similar to Olympic athletes. They are elite athletes and must qualify to participate based on score, time, or other standardsSpecial Olympic athletes have many different ability levels, and athletes of any ability are allowed to compete.
  3. Competition Times: The Paralympics happen every two years and are held about ten days after the Olympics in the same venues as the Olympic Games. Special Olympics holds competitions year round, and athletes can compete regionally, statewide, nationally, and internationally.

Even though they are different, they work toward the same goal. Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver explained it as, “We are both trying to use the power of sport to change the way the world sees people who have differences.” Athletes from the Paralympics and Special Olympics show the world that it doesn’t matter what disabilities, abilities, or differences athletes have. The important things aren’t physical. It’s more about how how hard they work to achieve greatness, how committed they are, and how much heart they have. Even though they are different, every pillar of the Olympic Movement inspires me and many other people every day.

Here is the video of Paralympian Matt Stutzman that inspired this whole post:

And, if you are feeling as though you need more inspiration, here is a video of Special Olympians at the 2015 World Games:

Thanks for reading and watching! 😀

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83 days until the Rio 2016 Olympics! (78 days until I go! You can still support my GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/carolynroadtorio)

3 months and 24 days until the Rio 2016 Paralympics!

100 Days to the Olympics!

Only 100 days to the Olympics! That’s really only a little more than 3 months… Wow! When I started this whole process of applying to volunteer during the Olympics, it was 2014 (2 YEARS AGO!), and now it’s only 3 more months! I am so excited!

I still don’t have my volunteer placement yet. The new date on when they’ll have all of the volunteer placements assigned is May 31, which is very close to the Games! However, I have completed the available training on the Volunteer Portal so far. I’m ready!

Because the Olympics are so soon, I started a gofundme page a week ago to help me cover the cost of going to them. I’m so thankful for everyone who has donated and shared it so far! Here is the link to the page: https://www.gofundme.com/carolynroadtorio. Anything you are able to give helps! Even sharing it on social media goes a long way! Going to the Olympics in a little more than 3 months will be a dream come true. Thank you everyone for your support!

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Today is the Road to Rio 100 Days Celebration in Times Square, and as soon as my class gets out at 2:45 pm, I’m sprinting over to Times Square to celebrate! I will write a blog post about it in the coming week! 🙂100days.PNG

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How to Find Volunteering Opportunities

IMG_9237 watermarkIn 2015, I started volunteering more than I had ever done before. This was because of a few reasons. One, I had figured out that it’s really easy to volunteer in New York City. There are so many nonprofits throughout the city, and they almost always need free help. Two, I enjoy doing it. It’s fun, and it makes me happy. Three (and this is the reason for today’s blog post), it is a way to further your career in a field. Besides internships and jobs, volunteering is a great way to gain experience in your field, network in your field, and get an inside look at an organization.

Because my friend noticed that my volunteering had increased in 2015, she recently asked me for tips on how to find volunteer opportunities. After helping her, I decided to write a blog post on it.

Here are five tips on how to find volunteer opportunities.

  1. Figure out the field or nonprofit where you want to volunteer. This is the most important tip because without it, the experience won’t be worthwhile for you. You should enjoy what you’re doing, or you’ll be wasting your time.
  2. Google it. Search for “Volunteering opportunities ________ New York City (or whatever location you’re in)” or some variation of this. For example, I Googled “volunteering opportunities Olympics New York City” and “volunteering opportunities sports New York City” to create my list of where to volunteer in 2016.
  3. Identify specific nonprofits that have missions you like and agree with, and then find events they have where you can volunteer. For some nonprofits, you can even volunteer to work in their office. Just find someone who works in the department you would like to work in and email that person.
  4. Utilize volunteer websites, such as idealist.org and  volunteermatch.org. Even if you aren’t able to find volunteer opportunities on these websites, they can often point you toward a specific organization where you might like volunteer in the future.
  5. If you find an organization you like, look at its employees’ bios, especially the CEO’s. By doing this, you can usually identify other related organizations and thus, more places for you to volunteer!

Here’s to more volunteering!

Pins (And Their Place in the Olympic Movement)

In my parents’ house in Pennsylvania, they have frames filled with pins right above the computer. For a long time when I was growing up, I had no idea what they were for. However, it all clicked one day, and I realized that these were the pins my family had collected when we went to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

I was one at the time, so I don’t remember it, but my sister says it was really awesome. She told me that her pins were coveted because my mom had gotten Kodak pins that no one else had. Although I missed out on the pin-collecting fun at the Atlanta Games, I was able to experience my own pin-collecting fun this summer at the Special Olympics World Games.

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He was right outside of the LA Memorial Coliseum after the Opening Ceremony and would only trade for pins. People kept trying to buy them, but he kept refusing.

Amy, my supervisor at Special Olympics New York, gave me Special Olympics New York pins before I left. I’m so grateful that she did because I was able to trade those for really cool pins. Mine were highly desired because not many people there were from New York. From my experience, trading pins was a way to open up conversation and connect with people from anywhere. The pins bridged the gap between cultures and languages. Most of the delegations had pins from their countries with them, and it was a good way to approach a team and get to know them. Special Olympics athletes are so kind that usually they tried to give me their pins instead of trading. I always had to make sure that they also got pins from me.

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One of the coolest pin tradings happened on my last night as a volunteer. I was already done with my shift, and I was saying goodbye to everything at UCLA’s Wilson Plaza with my friend I had made during the Games. A man and a woman approached me and asked if I wanted to trade with them. They ended up trading me pins from the Atlanta 1996 Olympics! I traded some of my pins for an Atlanta Olympic pin, Paralympic pin, and a Diving pin. As I was talking with them, they told me they were Olympic historians, and they had been to 18 Olympics in total. They had actually just returned from the Pan Am Games, which happened in Toronto this summer. I got some advice from them about Rio, and I said I would see them there!

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Pins from the Fan Zone. We were giving them out for free- no trading necessary!

After I came back from the World Games, I wasn’t sure of what I should do with my pins. I definitely wanted to display them, so I could see them every day just like I could in my parents’ house. Eventually, I decided to arrange them on a bulletin board with my favorite photos from the Games. I just finished it this past week, and here’s the finished product:

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Thanks for reading! Please follow me for more updates on my Olympic journey!

A Walk Through The LA Memorial Coliseum

When I was in LA, Boston dropped out of the race to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, and it was rumored that LA would go for it. This ended up being correct! Because of this, I decided to go on a self-guided tour of the LA Memorial Coliseum. The LA Memorial Coliseum was the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics, the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, and would be the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2024 Summer Olympics if LA is selected. The LA Memorial Coliseum has so much Olympic history!

I was so excited to tour this place. Unfortunately, I just missed the guided tour, but I actually think that the self-guided tour was better. I could walk wherever I wanted.

IMG_9124IMG_9122Above is the view of the LA Memorial Coliseum while walking up to it. Although I knew the construction wasn’t related to LA’s Olympic bid (because it was happening before Boston pulled out), it still made me feel hopeful that LA 2024 might happen. It was obviously a good sign!

On the right is a photo of me with the cauldron that was lit in 1932, 1984, and 2015! It is hard to see from my selfie, but that cauldron was burning brightly for the Special Olympics!

While I was walking around, it was so inspiring to imagine how it felt in 1932 or 1984.

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I walked in through one of the stadium entrances, and there was this 1984 Memorial. It commemorated every athlete who won a gold medal in the 1984 Games. I was in awe standing in front of it. The people who were featured on this and had won gold medals had once stood where I was.

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As I continued walking, I found this plaque commemorating Jesse Owens, one of the most inspiring Olympians ever. Even though he hadn’t competed in the 1932 Games, he was still remembered. It made me wonder if he has a plaque in every Olympic stadium and if he has a huge plaque in Berlin, the site of the 1936 Olympics (where he competed).

After seeing those cool plaques, I began wandering around the stadium. It’s huge! My ultimate goal was to walk to the center of the stadium and go to the top. Here are some photos I took during my walk around the stadium.

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Here is the view from the top:

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It was so amazing to sit up at the top and drink in all of the Olympic memories. I could easily imagine the entire stadium filled with fans who were cheering athletes. According to the University of South California’s website, there are 93,607 seats,and I bet all of those were filled in 1984 and 1932!

Here is a view of the Downtown LA skyline from the top. It’s a little different from NYC’s skyline but just as beautiful!IMG_6061

After sitting for awhile, I continued walking around the stadium. It was funny because I could see the guided tour as they moved around the stadium. They were moving pretty slowly, so it was easy to catch up with them. It was very tempting to subtly slip into the tour, but they were moving way to slow for me.

Once I left them, I found the press section! Here it is:

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I sat in one of the seats, and it had an awesome view.

I continued walking, and I found another Olympic Memorial. This one was for 1932. I think that if I could have entered through the main entrance, the 1932 and 1984 memorials would have been on either side of me. This memorial had all of the gold medalists of the 1932 Olympics. I managed to get a nice construction worker to take a photo of me in front of this memorial.

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It was very exciting to wander around the site of so much Olympic history. So many athletes had come through this stadium to have their Olympic moment. I really hope that the 2024 Olympic athletes can add to the history of the LA Memorial Coliseum. Fingers crossed for LA 2024!

Here’s the part of USC’s website where I found information about the LA Memorial Coliseum:

http://www.usctrojans.com/facilities/usc-memorial-coliseum.html

Important Things to Know About the 2024 Olympics

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Even though 2024 is nine years away, the 2024 Olympics are in the planning process. I was unbelievably excited for a large part of this year because I thought Boston might have a chance at hosting that Olympics. Backed by Team USA, Boston 2024 put together a strong bid to host the 2024 Olympics, but at the end of July, it pulled out.

I was really disappointed for a few reasons. One, the Olympics in Boston would have brought the Olympics more into my sphere of the world. Boston is so close to NYC, and all of the upcoming host cities are so far away! I was also disappointed because I was preparing to go to Boston to volunteer. Way back in July, I almost booked a bus to Boston to volunteer this Labor Day weekend. Thank goodness I didn’t!

In May, I participated in a monthly Boston 2024 All Volunteer Call, which described the process of applying to host the Olympics and what could be expected of volunteers. During the call, a real Olympic athlete spoke to us! Her name was Gevvie Stone, and she competed in the London 2012 Olympic Rowing! The best part was that I talked to her! I asked her if she was going to compete in Rio (she is planning on it), but she said she wasn’t planning on competing in Boston 2024.

Now, however, it appears that LA, the host city for the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, is taking up the bid! LA’s decision was just announced today! I’m so excited la-24-e1440553449211because it is still in USA, and I love LA! The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously in favor of the bid today. In a press release today, U.S. Olympic Committee’s CEO, Scott Blackmun said, “L.A. has the proven experience in hosting the Games, and knows how to deliver world-class events for athletes and an extraordinary experience for fans. Coupled with the city’s culture of creativity and innovation, we are confident L.A. can deliver an outstanding Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024.”

LA had to decide by September 15, which is the date when the U.S. Olympic Committee has to submit its complete proposal to the International Olympic Committee. I think LA 2024 will be more successful than Boston because LA has done this twice before, so their budget will be less since they have a lot of the necessary venues. According to NBC LA and the New York Times, LA’s proposed budget and proposed income should leave LA with a profit.

Although LA had to put forth a proposal bid by September 15, it can revise it until late 2016.

The host of the 2024 Summer Games will be announced in Summer 2017. LA 2024’s four main competitors are Rome, Hamburg, Paris, and Budapest.

Here are some great articles that explain the process and outcomes:

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Los-Angeles-Olympics-Bid-Summer-Games-2024-323205911.html

 

Here is an article that explains LA’s decision today:

http://olympictalk.nbcsports.com/2015/09/01/los-angeles-2024-olympic-bid-la2024-usoc/?utm_network=facebook&utm_post=4167021&utm_source=FB%20-%20NBC%20Olympics&utm_tags=srm%5Bolympics%2Carticle%5D

What To Do When You’re Feeling Stuck…

Hi readers! I haven’t updated this blog in a long time partly because of being busy but also because I felt stuck. I felt unmotivated and didn’t want to write at all. I think this feeling is pretty common, so I’m writing this post about how to become “unstuck.” Whether you have been feeling stuck at a job, as an intern, as a blogger, or anything else, you should read through these because maybe one will help you! And from now on, I’m going to update this blog on a weekly basis (at least!).

Top 5 Techniques To Stop Feeling Stuck (That Work For Me)

1. Remember what inspires you, and spend some time becoming re-inspired by it. This is how I was saved this past week. My sister posted a video on my Facebook, and it actually inspired this entire blog post.

Here’s the video:

It’s a beautiful celebration of human ability, and it really reminded me of why I’m interning at the Special Olympics, volunteering at the World Games, and working so hard to pursue my Olympic dream.

Find whatever you’re passionate in, and lose yourself in it. After watching this video, I immediately watched 5 more Olympic/Special Olympic videos about human achievement. Losing myself in my passion helped tremendously.

2. Remember how you got to where you are, especially your past accomplishments. Become inspired by yourself. You’ve already come so far toward your goal! Just keep going!

3. Be with your family or your friends. Sometimes, not thinking about it will help, and not thinking of something is easier when you’re with your loved ones! However, just about any distraction will work for this technique. You could go for a walk, read a book, watch a movie, or knit a scarf as long as you’re no longer thinking about the problem.

4, Volunteer! Volunteering will make you feel good because you’re helping others. When you’re happy, you’ll feel less stuck. It’s just plain science.

5. Try something new or make a dramatic change. Doing one of these will jolt you out of your comfort zone. I recently donated 10 inches of my hair, and it was such a big change for me. It definitely helped me to stop only going through the motions. Changing your appearance or doing something different will change how you feel, and it will interrupt the boring feel of your life.

I hope that these tips will help you feel less stuck and unmotivated. Just remember that you’re awesome and this feeling won’t last long. You’ll be back to achieving your goals in no time!