Articles in Volunteers

Add Volunteering to Your 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

Elin EditBy Elin Phipps, SOIA Director of Volunteers 

It is that time a year again! The New Year is here and it is time to start making a list of 2018 New Year’s resolutions. Exercise more, lose weight, eat healthier, spend more time with family and friends, pick up a new hobby, travel more…these are all popular resolutions. Why not add “spend time volunteering” to your New Year’s resolutions list? Volunteering not only benefits the community and the organization, it has benefits for you too! Here are some ways volunteering has a positive impact on your life and the lives of those around you.

Did you know that volunteering can be beneficial to your health? According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, research indicates volunteering provides individual physical and social health benefits. It has been established that those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.

In relation to physical health, often times volunteer positions have some level of physical activity involved. Whether it is lifting boxes, helping a child or adult at a sporting event, or even just getting up off your feet and walking around, volunteer positions can help individuals stay active. It has been reported that those who volunteer frequently throughout the year have better overall physical health and are some of the healthiest people in the U.S.

Volunteering not only benefits your physical health, it has great benefits for your mental, emotional and social health. Spending time volunteering often helps individuals feel like they are a part of a group that makes a difference in the lives of others and helps people feel a real sense of achievement. Being part of a volunteer group also helps people develop a social group that is outside their friends, family or work and helps people get involved in their community. According to “Psychology Today,” volunteering and being part of a volunteer group that has social interactions benefits your brain health and function, lowers risk for depression and anxiety, helps develop emotional stability, and increases self-esteem.

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SOIA at the 2017 Iowa State Fair

Come join Special Olympics Iowa at the 2017 Iowa State Fair!

IMG_7517On Friday, August 18, SOIA will be co-hosting the second annual Adaptive Sports on the Grand Concourse day with our friends from Adaptive Sports Iowa and Courage League Sports. The day will consist of games of power soccer, wheelchair basketball and bocce as well as equipment demonstrations and program overviews. It will be a day to show how sports can be adaptive for inclusion so everyone can participate.

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2017 Summer Games Award Winners

Special Olympics Iowa honored its Outstanding Athlete, Coach and Family of the Year award winners during the Summer Games Opening Ceremonies presented by Hy-Vee May 25 at Iowa State University’s Hilton Coliseum. The Scott Bryant Unsung Hero Award was also presented to recognize an individual dedicated to the Law Enforcement Torch Run program. 

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31st Annual Winter Games Coming to Dubuque

_dsc0174-800x532Over 300 athletes from across the state are set to compete in the 2017 Special Olympics Iowa Winter Games January 9-10 in Dubuque. More than 130 coaches and chaperones, as well as 150 volunteers, will donate their time to serve the athletes and make the event a success.

Children and adult athletes of all abilities will participate in sports like Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, short track speed skating and figure skating. The Grand Harbor Center, Sundown Mountain, Albrecht Acres and Mystique Community Ice Center will host the competitions and activities.

“Our athletes are very excited to showcase their skills and abilities at the Winter Games,” said SOIA Director of Sports & Advanced Competitions, Rhonda Schwarzkopf. “Their dedication is amazing to watch. Winter Games would not be possible without the support and commitment of athletes’ families, coaches and our volunteers.”

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Staff Column: Class A Applications

As the schools and facilities start gearing up for another fantastic year of Special Olympics Iowa sport competitions, I have one item to refresh/remind you on – the staff-sallyClass A Volunteer Application. My name is Sally Briggs and I process all the Class A applications. We have updated our website with the Class A Volunteer information.  From the home page hover over “Get Involved” and click on “Class A Volunteers” or use this link.

Here are some common tips to remember when filling out the Class A Volunteer application:

  • Who should fill out the Class A application?
    • Anyone who has direct contact with athletes, in a position of authority, supervision or trust of athletes
    • Coach, Unified partner, chaperone, one on one, board member, LETR (Law Enforcement Torch Run) volunteers, Committee members, anyone that transports, stays over night with athletes, handles substantial amounts of cash or other assets for Special Olympics Iowa

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SOIA Seeks Volunteer Translator

Special Olympics Iowa is looking for a volunteer to help translate important documents into Spanish for future use. We have several forms, including our Physical and Consent form, that we would like to also have in Spanish on our website and available at the state office.

If you or someone you know would be interested in helping with this, contact Gary Harms at 515-986-5520 or

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Miss Teen of America Joins SOIA at Capitol Hill Day

news-miss-teen-of-america2Ambassadors from Special Olympics Iowa will be meeting with legislators in Washington, D.C. on Wed., Feb 10 for Capitol Hill Day. Athlete Corey Leonhard, CEO Gary Harms and Delegation Manager Jason Miller will be joined by Miss Teen of America Corrie Hayes to advocate for support of the life-changing work Special Olympics does in our state.

Since it was passed in 2004, the Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act has provided the financial means to help  improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through its support for global sports and related programming, as well as social and recreational programs. Specifically, this legislation authorizes the use of funds for specific programs which directly impact Special Olympics athletes in matters relating to health, education and global program initiatives. Each year, Special Olympics urges members of Congress to continue a national commitment to the Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act.

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More Than an Athlete – Bates Stays Involved On and Off the Court

Bran Bates (middle wearing the cap) loves being involved in all aspects of SOIA.

Bran Bates (middle wearing the cap) loves being involved in all aspects of SOIA.

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.

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Winter Games Becomes Highlight of J-Term for Univ. of Dubuque Class

news-speed-skating-volunteer-helpThe volunteer spirit was shining bright during Special Olympics Iowa Winter Games in Dubuque, especially among a group of students from the University of Dubuque who were lending a helping hand at the Mystique Ice Arena. For five years, the Quest for the Cup class, taught by Jim Romagna, has helped to make sure the figure skating and speed skating events run smoothly. Students help with race coordination, helping athletes on and off the ice, cheering them on during their events, race timing, awards, set-up and tear down.

Romagna is the department head of the Health, Wellness and Sport Program at the university and has turned volunteering at Winter Games into an annual event in the course syllabus. The J-term class is held for three weeks during the university’s winter break, with the primary focus on learning the history of the Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL hockey team. Students get an inside look at hockey operations including marketing, fundraising, practices, off-ice workouts and more.

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Thank you Area Directors!

Special Olympics Iowa serves more than 12,000 athletes and Unified Sports Partners. Nearly 90 Special Olympics events and special programs are held each year throughout the state, giving athletes a fair opportunity to develop and demonstrate their skills and talents.

Thousands of volunteers are utilized each year at both the area and state levels to facilitate and manage sports competitions for the athletes. The key volunteers for scheduling and implementing the area competitions are the area directors. These volunteers understand and promote the Special Olympics mission, goals and philosophies.

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