This weekend, a group of us volunteered for the Special Olympics. We were given a very important task: provide the food. As athletes, we know how important it is to refuel after exercise, so we made sure to encourage all the athletes to eat to their heart’s content. It was touching to see how proud some of the athletes were of their accomplishments. Maybe the most surprising part of the day was the range of age and skill level of the athletes. I talked to a young boy of 8 or 9 who came to get hot chocolate and was sad that he had not placed in one of his events. I also talked to another athlete of at least 35, who had limited speech but was very proud of his ribbons, pointing repeatedly to the visible manifestations of his accomplishments. Even Laura from FOCO was there!
One of the best parts of the morning was talking to the other volunteers. We learned a lot from the couple that was manning the food station with us, Barbara and Frank. I was even able to see pictures from their recent trip to India and Sri Lanka! What different worlds! In addition, we shared recommendations for our favorite places around the Upper Valley, like restaurants and cross-country ski locations. At the end of the event, Barbara won a $300 gift card to Ariana’s restaurant from the raffle! It was extremely exciting, and I was able to rave to her about my past experience at the restaurant. Overall, we had a great time volunteering and all felt like we had a much more productive morning than we would have if we had stayed dilly-dallying around campus.