Spreading the Word

Special Olympics, Ending the R-word, Getting Involved

Unified Winter Ball

After three years of running the MetroWest Special Olympics at FSU we obviously want to make every year bigger and better than the last. One of the girls on my team mentioned hosting a prom with the Special Olympics athletes.

I took her idea and I made a few adjustments to make it a Unified Winter Ball because prom season is too close to the end of the year and we want to promote Special Olympics which takes place at the end if April.

Through Special Olympics I have realized that there are so many people at this school who really care about about the Special Olympics athletes and are just so amazing with them every single year. So I thought, why wait until the end of April to have fun with such amazing people?

So, my plan for next semester is to host a unified Winter Ball at  FSU with high schools in the MetroWest area and their Special Education classes. We would set it up so that everyone would meet and get together somehow and the boys in the Special Education classes would go to the Ball with girls from FSU and the girls in the Special Education Classes will go with the boys at FSU.

I think this would get a lot of attention and I think the students at FSU will be more than willing to take part in it. This event will not only be a one-time dance, it’s sure to build friendships that will last for years.

That being said, I am looking for ideas, tips and feedback on this event idea. For anyone who reads this – please comment below or email me at cristinaarrene@gmail.com with any advice. I really want this program to be successful so any insight will be greatly appreciated!

SPREAD THE WORD!

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Special Olympics at FSU

As I mentioned in my last post, Framingham State University hosted the 3rd annual MetroWest Special Olympics on Friday April 26th. As the Event Director, most of my work was done before the games took place.  However, the best part of my job is getting to see all of the athletes compete in their events and have such an amazing day!

There was so much going on. First, the athletes warmed up to Rocky along side FSU’s mascot, Sam the Ram followed by the parade of athletes. After the parade, there were a couple of opening remarks, a performance by the FSU Dance Team a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by a Marlborough athlete and finally, the oaths.

When I spoke during the opening ceremonies, I was speaking to the athletes but I had a lesson for  all of the volunteers and spectators as well.  I told the athletes that they were an inspiration to everyone – showing us that nothing is impossible and if you put your mind to it and believe in yourself then you will succeed. Also, the greatest thing that these athletes have taught me is – no matter what the outcome, finish everything you do with a smile.

Special Olympics is my favorite time of the year. I love seeing the smiles on their faces when they finish a race and run into a coach’s or volunteer’s arms for a giant hug at the finish line. I love when they hear their name called for a medal and they jump up out of their seats and scream, “That’s me!” And, then when they step onto the podium and a volunteer places a medal around their neck and their smile is a mile wide as they throw their arms up in the air.

I also love seeing how the volunteers interact with the athletes. It’s like a sight I’ve never seen. There are some people who you would never expect be be so great with these kids – but they are unbelievable! It goes to show you just how much these kids have to offer and they literally do bring out the best in people.

Check out some pictures from this years’ Special Olympics!

Our fundraising team raffled off a donated Vince Wilfork autographed football and sold Spread the Word to End the Word pins – made by one of our volunteers – In total, we raised over $400 for Special Olympics!

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Sam the Ram greeted the athletes as they arrived at the field

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Let the Games Begin!

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Athletes enjoyed activities, coloring, airbrush tattoos and Magic tricks at Olympic Town!

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Athletes celebrated at awards!

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Everyone had a great day!

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Some of the volunteers after the games!

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Event Director – Cristina, Volunteer Coordinator – Samantha, FSU Outreach and Volunteer Staff – Kendra, Event Director – Michaela

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SOMA Staff and FSU Event Directors

Kendra, Matt, Eric, Andrew, Michaela, Samantha & Cristina

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Planning a Special Olympics Event

Hi Everyone! Most of you don’t know this about me but for the past two years, I have coordinated the MetroWest Special Olympics at Framingham State University. As a student at FSU, running an event of this caliber can be extrememly stressful. Luckily, I had a group of 30 student leaders who all were a huge help!

Each student took on a different responsibility from fundraising to track and field directors to volunteer coordinators. For the first time, I also worked side-by-side with a co-event director. Having her to work with was a huge help this year because we got to split the work in half so neither one of us was too overwhelmed.

Our fundraising team was amazing this year! We raised over $400 in under 2 months! The money raised will go directly towards Special Olympics Massachusetts to help defer the cost of hosting the games.

Track and Field directors took care of everything that had to do with events on the day of. They signed up for specific events, such as track, shot put, softball throw and long jump and were trained on each of their roles beforehand. This way, there was someone at every station who knew what they were doing so they could train their day-of volunteers.

As event directors, Michaela and I planned who would do what, we were the main contact between the student leaders and Special Olympics MA, we handled everything at the facility, coordinated programs to promote the day games and basically kept everyone on track.

Organizing this event was a lot of work but it was worth every minute of it! All of the athletes were so happy to be there, I didn’t stop smiling the whole day and it was single-handedly one of the greatest days of my life. At one point, I was so stressed that I wanted it to be over but as I was walking across the field, seeing athletes give giant hugs to coaches, parents and volunteers at the finish line, I realized that I didn’t want the day to be over.

I’m so grateful that I got to be a part of something so great and I am forever thankful for my volunteers, the coaches, parents and most of all – the athletes – for making it a day I will never forget!

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Special Olympics, Ending the R-word, Getting Involved

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