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Volunteering for Special Olympics


At first, we really want to thank you for volunteering for this year’s Host Town Partnership Program for the Special Olympics Winter World Games 2017 in Austria.
What is the main reason for you to volunteer?

I have always wanted to volunteer for a good cause, as giving something back to others has always been one of my life goals. In my opinion, supporting others and giving back is very fulfilling and leads to a great amount of joy and happiness.
The Host Town Partnership offered me the perfect opportunity to do this as I am also extremely interested in sports and fitness. In addition, it is a great opportunity to connect with new people, eventually building new friendships, but also a way to strengthen my connection with my colleagues.

What were your main tasks within the volunteering program? Which particular part did you take over?

As part of the program, ams is organizing a welcome ceremony for the US Special Olympics Team, a trip to the Zotter chocolate factory as well as a dinner event. My main tasks were helping to organize the welcome and the dinner event. We prepared a very special welcome ceremony, introducing the athletes to some of our Styrian traditions. During the dinner event, I am responsible for taking pictures of the athletes, and I look forward to getting to know the personal stories of the athletes and building a personal connection. 

As you are volunteering for the winter games, we guess that sports must play an important part in your daily life. Which sports do you like the most? Do you also have any experience in competitive sports?

Exactly, sports have always played an essential part in my daily life. I have tried countless sports, my favorites are at the moment climbing, boxing and doing yoga. As I child I was really into playing tennis and handball, and I even competed in the national championships. I therefore know the importance of having a great coach, an even better team and a crowd that cheers you on. 

What is your favorite discipline at the Winter Games?

Since I was a child, I really enjoyed watching figure skating. While the stereotypical figure skating music is soft, slow and pretty, the people who compete with it are tough, fierce and driven. I believe that it is one of the hardest sports. Skaters need to balance on very small metal edges as they fling their bodies into spins and jumps and footwork. This takes a lot of coordination and strength. I am fascinated by how gracefully the skaters look while doing difficult footwork. They have to be present for the entire time. 

The Special Olympics are a pretty exciting event for participants but also for the audience. What brings you the most joy while watching the athletes?

For me personally the best thing is watching the athletes reach the finish line, it is the moment when they see their results, followed by a smile on their face. For me it is really inspiring to see what people can accomplish when they believe in themselves, even if there are some obstacles in their way. 

Do you feel that a lot of people in Austria are aware that the Winter Games are taking place in Styria this year?

I can only speak for my friends and family around Graz, but I think a huge part of the population is aware of this event. Due to the fact that ams is participating in the Host Town Partnership, I have spoken to a lot of my friends and they are also really excited that this year’s Winter Games are taking place in our country. 

This brings us to our final question: Are you going to watch the games in Schladming?

Yes, I will definitely watch them live. Our works council provides the opportunity for all volunteers to visit the games on a day trip. I am really excited and looking forward to this day.

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