There are many reasons why I have been involved in Special Olympics since 1997. As the years have passed and my life has evolved, so too have the reasons why I continue to participate.
When I originally volunteered to coach Special Olympics, I was a senior in college, majoring in Elementary Education, and volunteering at a clinic for children with special needs. I had a passion for working with people and really enjoyed playing sports. Special Olympics assigned me to be an assistant coach to an adult basketball team in New Bedford. I left the first practice with sore cheeks from smiling so much and a determination to be the best coach I could be. It was then that I knew that I would be receiving as much from volunteering at Special Olympics as the athletes would be from me.
The athletes gain independence, a sense of accomplishment, friendship with peers, and confidence in themselves. I gain an appreciation for each of my athletes struggles, patience, and skill at organizing a team with athletes of many differing abilities. As a Unified Partner, I develop more physical fitness, experience joy in watching athletes be successful, and community involvement.
Within a few years of coaching, I also gained a husband 🙂 I fell in love with Jon, the gentleman Special Olympics originally paired me with to help coach. Our two children have attended Special Olympics events since they were infants. Observing and participating in practice, my children gained an early understanding of people with different disabilities, had opportunities to develop tolerance and acceptance, and developed friendships with families of athletes. We soon discovered Jordan, our son had challenges of his own. Over the years our involvement in Special Olympics has evolved. I am no longer a volunteer coach, I am also now a parent/coach of a child on a Special Olympics team. From this I gain friendships with other families with children with similar struggles, an organization that fits Jordan’s needs, and joy at watching him score a goal or basket and celebrate with his teammates. As a Unified Partner/Volunteer, his sister, Sariah gains a better understanding of her brother, helps her brother feel successful at sports, and develops compassion for the people around her.
Last year was the first time Sariah and I participated in Over the Edge. Stepping off the hotel roof edge was both exhilarating and terrifying. The view of Boston while rappelling down 22 stories of the hotel was breathtaking. In addition to the altitude-induced adrenaline was the overwhelming support we received by the friends and family members that came to support us. Going Over the Edge with Sariah was an amazing mother/daughter moment that I will treasure forever and can not wait to do again this year!
Hence my Special Olympics journey has come full circle. Special Olympics is a community, we all gain from each other. Please help me raise money to support our Bridgewater Raynham Special Olympics Teams!
Ways to Donate:
Go to: overtheedgeboston.com and click on Sariah Dyer or Kate Dyer
Write a check to: Special Olympics Massachusetts and in the memo write: Over the Edge Kate Dyer/Sariah Dyer and give it to us and we will mail it to the Special Olympics office in Marlborough.