Trading Tuesday: Austria 2017

unnamedThis pin is the perfect choice for this week’s Trading Tuesday because I just made it today! Currently, I’m volunteering at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria. This pin is awesome because I ❤ Special Olympics, and it’s really cool to have my picture on a pin!

I have been having a wonderful time meeting athletes, fans, and volunteers from around the world. People are completely open with friendship, and they are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. So many people have helped me since I’ve come here and gone out of their way to do so. I think everyone recognizes that we are here for the athletes. This is their time, and by making sure the focus is on them, the athletes’ happiness, kindness, and openness is able inspire everyone else. I know I belong within the Special Olympics community because it is one huge, international family, and these Games have confirmed that. Even if people have different abilities, languages, races, or religions, Special Olympics proves that everyone can come together and find similarities.

Saturday night was the Opening Ceremony in Schladming, and I’m so happy I was able to go. It was so beautiful. The entire ceremony focused on the athletes as the stars. Even though it was pouring and bitterly cold the entire time, the stands were completely filled, and it didn’t stop people from cheering for each country as it paraded out into the stadium.

In Messe Graz, the place where Floor Hockey and Floor Ball are located and where I’m volunteering, there is a Coca Cola station where you can take a picture holding a Special Olympics pillow, and then have it made into a pin. Coca Cola is one of the sponsors of the Games, and they had such a cool idea with these pins.

My last day volunteering is on Thursday. So far, I’ve been working in the cafeteria where athletes, coaches, staff, and volunteers eat, but tomorrow and Thursday, I’m volunteering for the Motor Activity Training Program (MATP).

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Go Team USA! Go Special Olympics!

Happy Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day 2016!

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

– Special Olympics Athlete Oath

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver wrote this down on the morning of July 20, 1968, the day of the first Special Olympics International Games. She spoke the oath at the Opening Ceremony, and ever since, Special Olympic athletes have been pledging it at every Special Olympic competition.

Today is the seventh annual Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day! We celebrate this every year to honor Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics. She changed the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities by providing them with a way to train and compete in sports, and she changed the lives of everyone in the world by creating a way for inclusion.

She was a hero in changing the world, and every day, Special Olympics continues on her heroic legacy. By reciting the Athlete Oath 48 years ago, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a movement toward inclusion, and all of the 4.7 million current Special Olympics athletes and 1 million coaches and volunteers have continued her effort to create a world that celebrates people’s abilities instead of disabilities. Thank you, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, for giving the world Special Olympics. ❤

Click on the images below to make them bigger and celebrate EKS Day and Special Olympics with me! 🙂

Special Olympics New York’s Fall State Games!

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Sam, Amy, Me, and Kaitlin

Special Olympics New York’s Fall State Games were October 16 and 17 in Glens Falls, NY. While there, I spent all of my time with my Special Olympics family (pictured to the left). Together, we took in the beauty of Lake George and the Adirondack Mountains and helped our athletes achieve gold. It was an amazing weekend!

I drove up with the Development Team to Glens Falls, and it was a really fun road trip! We went apple picking, and it was refreshing to take our time along the way. We talked a lot, and I’m so happy that I work with all of them.

Opening Ceremony started at 8 pm on that Friday, and we made it in time to see the athletes at the Olympic Village. It looked like a pretty awesome party! I was so happy I could say hi to some of the athletes I met at other competitions.

Almost 1000 athletes from all over the state came to Glens Falls to compete in a variety of sports. There was Unified Golf, Cross Country, Equestrian, Bocce, Soccer, and Softball. Every single one of those athletes, regardless of region or sport, was extremely excited for the Opening Ceremony to begin!

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Some NYC athletes during the Opening Ceremony

IMG_7705The Opening Ceremony featured a parade of athletes, two dance teams, a Broadway singer, speeches, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Watching people run the torch in and light the cauldron definitely builds the excitement in the room, and that’s why the Torch Run is always one of my favorite parts of Opening Ceremonies. After the Torch Run, the Games were declared open!

The next morning, Kaitlin and I had to be up extremely early for Equestrian. I was really excited because I love horses, and I also love Special Olympics competitions. Definitely, Equestrian did not disappoint. In the morning, athletes competed in English riding, and in the afternoon, they competed in Western. When they weren’t competing, they just had fun together.

Here are some photos from the event:

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These two best friends were so happy to each win a gold and a silver medal!

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She decided to start interviewing her friends with Channel 6’s microphone!

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This mini pony was named Bolt!

Last weekend was spent doing what I love with people I love. It was a magical experience that makes me look forward to the next State Games in February. 🙂