Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps AmeriCorps Members serve at one of 75 host sites throughout 16 counties in the PA Alleghenies. Members also support regional community projects. The Special Olympics is one such community project supported by PMSC AmeriCorps.
Hundreds of athletes, coaches, family, friends and volunteers descended upon Seven Springs Ski Resort in Southwest Pennsylvania, February 7-9, 2016 to celebrate the Special Olympic Winter Games! Many, many hours of hard work and training prepared the athletes for three days of competition in alpine and cross-country skiing, figure and speed skating, snowshoeing and individual skills events.
We are fortunate to have nearly 20,000 Special Olympic athletes in Pennsylvania! The mission of Special Olympics PA is to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.
This year PMSC AmeriCorps Members supported the event by organizing the Olympic Village. Members came from near and far to facilitate a photo booth, make crafts, organize games, and create a slideshow of athlete photos dating back to 2008. When not out competing, the athletes could visit the Village and enjoy a variety of activities at no cost.
PMSC members are encouraged to support their local communities in areas of environment, public safety and human needs. When offered the opportunity to serve at the Special Olympics, many members happily joined in the effort! Member Kim Berwager had this to say about her experience as a volunteer, “I was so very blessed to have the opportunity to volunteer for the Special Olympics. The athletes were just that, special. They were so sweet and caring. I made friendships with some pretty amazing athletes. This was an opportunity that truly changed my life!!”
My goal is to inspire PMSC AmeriCorps members with experiences that make them want to continue to support their communities long after their term ends. Time spent with the athletes has a way of making you want to do just that. I’m already excited for next year’s event!—Jill Latuch, PMSC Regional Coordinator.