Special Olympics Missouri in need of volunteer help

Hundreds of volunteers are needed for four-hour shifts next week.
Monday, May 28, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:59 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The Special Olympics Missouri 2007 Summer Games begin June 4, but event organizers are unsure if they will happen as planned.

They are still looking to fill the majority of volunteer positions. Currently, the event has only about 400 of the 1,000 volunteer positions accounted for, which means organizers, like volunteer and participant relations coordinator Shauna Balk, are worried that if slots aren’t filled, the quality of the competition might decrease.


Visit the SOMO Web site at Contact Shauna Balk at 1-800-846-2682 No experience is required.

“If we don’t get the amount of volunteers we need, we will have to rearrange how the athletes are competing,” Balk said. “We’d have to put them in larger groups, and they would compete with more people than originally planned.”

Volunteer shifts are set in four-hour blocks and are available throughout the event, which runs through June 6. Volunteers are needed to help set up and take down the opening ceremonies and to assist athletes during the competition.

Events will be held on the MU campus with competitions at Stankowski Field, Audrey J. Walton Stadium and the Mizzou Aquatics Center. The games include track and field, aquatics, powerlifting and softball events.

A scheduling conflict with the 2007 NCAA Mideast Track and Field Regional competition might have contributed to the shortage of volunteers, said Gary Brimer, the chief sports officer for SOMO. Brimer said the organization is grateful to use the university facilities, but because of the conflict the games are scheduled Monday to Wednesday rather than a traditional Wednesday-Friday schedule.

“I think people are more willing to take off a Friday and volunteer rather than a day at the beginning of the week,” Brimer said. “We would never cancel the event, but every volunteer we can get is necessary.”

Mandi Mueller, public relations specialist for SOMO, said if more people don’t help, a core group of volunteers will have to stay longer to compensate.

“Volunteers run this event, so we’re in big trouble if we don’t get the positions filled,” Mueller said.­

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