SO College Volunteer Coordinator and Unified Partner, Miami-Dade County
“I will never forget something that happened many years ago. My brother Evan approached a group of kids who were outside playing. Evan wanted to join in the fun. Noticing the rejection from the crowd, I walked over to see what was going on and it turned out the group didn’t want to play with my brother. They called him “annoying.” Annoying is the word they used to describe my brother’s Down Syndrome.
Hurt, caught off guard and sad for my brother; Evan and I returned home. This moment made me realize how other people see my brother. I knew right away that one of my missions in life was to advocate for people like my little brother. That’s when I found out about Special Olympics.
I have been volunteering for Special Olympics Florida for over 8 years in 6 different sports. Every time I go to a Special Olympics event, it is not only rewarding, but there is a sense of belonging for everyone. The athletes are seen for their ability rather than their disability. It is a place I feel at home and welcomed with open arms. A place to find a new friend, and a place to be treated equally and with respect.
My passion for helping people with disabilities led me to win the title of Miss Massachusetts Outstanding Teen in 2014 where my platform was Special Olympics. Throughout my year, I raised awareness for Special Olympics and volunteered at many events around the state. Now that I am in college, I participate in Special Olympics SO College program. I am the volunteer coordinator and play unified flag football and soccer. Playing on a unified team is really special because we push ourselves to do better and get to experience winning or losing as a team.
Special Olympics was designed to provide a place for people like Evan to have fun, make friends and feel a sense of belonging with other Special Olympics athletes and their community.