Special Olympics needs volunteers for summer games

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 | 7:24 p.m. CDT; updated 7:32 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 20, 2014

COLUMBIA — The state's Special Olympics still needs 300 volunteers for the summer games.

Missouri's summer Special Olympics will be held from May 30 to June 1 at various venues throughout Columbia. Volunteer shifts typically run about four hours.

Volunteers do not need any special skills, and many types of positions are available, said Jennifer Green, Special Olympics volunteer coordinator.

Events that still need help include basketball, volleyball, bowling, powerlifting, aquatics, and track and field. The most volunteers are needed for the bowling and track and field events, Green said.

The ideal number of volunteers is about 1,000, she said. As of Tuesday, about 700 had signed up.

A volunteer deficit is normal this time of year because of competing weekend events such as graduation and holidays, Green said. She hopes to recruit high school students through extracurricular organizations, but most college-age students have already gone home, she said.

The games will kick off at 7:30 p.m. May 30 at Hickman High School with the lighting of the torch and an opening ceremony. It includes a performance from a KISS tribute band.

Longtime volunteer Jack Swartz said he became involved because he has two autistic sons.

"The joy that is derived from the Special Olympics is unlike anything I have been involved with," Swartz said.

According to the Special Olympics Missouri website, the summer games will host about 2,500 athletes and coaches this year.

People interested in volunteering can sign up on the Special Olympics Missouri website or call 573-635-1660, ext. 28.

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

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