By SOIA Intern Katie Baum
Special Olympics Iowa has given its athletes countless opportunities and memories since its beginning in 1968 thanks to our dedicated volunteers, staffs, families and friends. Brian Bates, Iowa City Special Olympics athlete, is not only a dedicated athlete, he also serves as a volunteer when he is not competing.
Nearly 30 years ago, Brian was a student at Washington High School in Washington, Iowa, when he first heard about Special Olympics. This excited him and led him to join the Special Olympics swim team through his school.
Two years after his high school graduation, he moved to Iowa City. About a year after his move, he learned that a Special Olympics program was starting in the area. He really missed the competition from high school so he decided to join.
“After participating in swimming, I realized just how fun competing could be. I missed it after I graduated so I soon started competing again,” Brian said.
Brian is an accomplished athlete. He competes in softball, 3-on-3 basketball, track and field, swimming, golf and downhill skiing. He even had the great opportunity to attend the 1995 Special Olympics World Summer Games in New Haven, Conn., where he won gold in cycling.
While he is so accomplished and loves competing, he is quick to point out that isn’t the only reason he is so involved with Special Olympics.
In addition to being an athlete, Brian is a Global Messenger where he has the opportunity to speak about what Special Olympics means to him. He is also a current committee member for the Mid-Winter Tournament, a volunteer and served on the Board of Directors for two years. He says that this keeps him busy, but he loves being involved.
“My favorite thing about Special Olympics is of course the competition, but also going to the various events,” Bates explained. “It’s an opportunity for me to socialize with new people and catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while.”
Brian is so dedicated that if his 3-on-3 basketball team doesn’t qualify for the state tournament, he still attends as a volunteer. “I discovered how fun it can be even when my team isn’t competing. I realize that my team may not make it to state every year, but I still want to be a part of it,” he said.
When he is not volunteering or competing with Special Olympics, Brian enjoys researching things on the computer, participating in a therapeutic horse riding program and cheering on his beloved Iowa Hawkeyes football team.
Brian is looking forward to many more years of competing and volunteering for Special Olympics as well as meeting new people within the organization.