April is Volunteer Appreciation Month, a time in which I would like to thank the thousands of volunteers who help Special Olympics Rhode Island athletes in their communities. Volunteers are the backbone of Special Olympics Rhode Island.  Without the generosity of time and commitment from volunteer coaches, committee members, officials, fundraisers, and the many others who give of themselves for the mission of Special Olympics, athletes with intellectual disabilities would not have the opportunities that are given to them today.

Volunteers for Special Olympics inspire greatness in the athletes they serve. They inspire these athletes to do their personal best and they help each athlete strive to make their dreams come true. But volunteering for Special Olympics also inspires greatness in everyone it touches.  Whether its one hour, one day, one week or one year, Special Olympics offers volunteer opportunities that truly celebrate the human spirit.

I believe that Special Olympics Rhode Island volunteer, Richard Rocheleau, described it best when he said, “You give an inch of love and devotion to the athletes and they give you a mile back”.

Special Olympics has made remarkable strides, growing in many ways. Today, more than 5.3 million athletes and unified partners in over 169 countries around the world benefit from Special Olympics. That number continues to grow, which means that we will need continued support from volunteers to maintain year-round quality sports training and athletic competition for the over 3,400 athletes that compete right here in Rhode Island.

Special Olympics would not have grown in the past 49 years without the help of volunteers. Special Olympics’ athletes depend on volunteers in their communities to train and compete in their sports. Our volunteers train our athletes for life, building their self-esteem, and giving them the chance to win. Today, athletes have taken leadership roles throughout the Special Olympics organization. Through volunteer support, guidance and education our athletes have broken barriers and have proven there are no limits.

To the thousands of volunteers, who have changed the lives of our athletes, I salute you for your time, effort and dedication to the movement of Special Olympics. Without your efforts, our athletes would not have the chance to shine athletically, grow socially and experience the spirit that is Special Olympics. 

Thank you again from all our athletes and staff at Special Olympics Rhode Island.