U.P. Special Olympics brings volunteer opportunities for students

Kelly McCommons

Participants from all around the Upper Peninsula will gather in Marquette Friday, Jan. 17 and Saturday, Jan. 18 for the U.P. Special Olympics competition. Over the weekend many events will take place with several opportunities for students to volunteer.

Events begin 2:30 p.m. Friday at Marquette Mountain with the downhill ski competition.

Special Olympics Director Marie Martian said it will be a fun event for all.

“Participants and volunteers alike, students can help by timing, being on the sidelines to cheer and even help serve pasties at the dinner afterwards,” Martian said. There’s lots of opportunities.”

Festivities at the mountain will conclude with a torchlight run down the mountain.

This year’s dance is a dinosaur theme. Volunteers will help decorate the Holiday Inn and help serve ice cream and punch to the group.

“There’s a wide variety of ways that students can help,” Seth Kratz, NMU’s volunteer coordinator said. “From helping with downhill skiing events and physical activities at the Superior Dome on Saturday, to the Friday night dance at the Holiday Inn.”

Assistant Volunteer Center coordinator Sara Pingel said volunteering for the Special Olympics is also a great way to get in Superior Edge hours. “Anything they do for [Special Olympics]can be logged for superior edge hours and there are a lot available through this event,” Pingel said.

According to Kratz, the NMU Dance team will also be making an appearance at the event. “It’s nice that a group like that is able to get involved in such a great cause,” Kratz said.

The festivities will continue Saturday at the Superior Dome with breakfast served from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and opening ceremonies at 8:45 a.m.

Participates will then split up and compete in events like snowshoeing, physical fitness and other events available including basketball.

Martian recalled one athlete’s Special Olympics story.

“We have one young man who is blind and downhill skis,” Martian said. “Several volunteers help with direction down the hill. Someone is always in the front and back to guide him, but last year he went on the chairlift for the first time. Those kinds of athletes just surprise you.”

Martian said it would be a good opportunity for students in majors beyond special education to help get involved.

“This would be a good opportunity for not only special education majors but education majors, social work majors, physical education majors, etc,” Martian said. “It’s really a good event for all regardless.”

Students from all majors and programs are welcome to help with the event this weekend.

For more information about the U.P. Special Olympics, call the NMU Volunteer Center at (906)227-2466 or email [email protected]