NHS and SLT Volunteer at Special Olympics

Megan Rennegarbe, Staff Writer

The Special Olympics is a unique event that allows people with special needs to be able to participate in competitive sports in a fun, encouraging environment. On October 16, Okawville High School’s NHS and SLT groups were able to attend the event and lend a helping hand. These two groups have been helping this organization for over ten years and it consists of getting up bright and early on Sunday morning, being on their feet all day (whether it be cheering or doing physical activity), and not returning back until late afternoon. The Special Olympics event this time of year was their Sectional Bowling competition. It was held at St. Clair Bowl, where all 50 lanes were filled with competitors who were hoping to advance to the State event. 

Senior, Jared Juenger, said this about the experience, “The atmosphere there was joyful and supportive. It was nice to see so many smiles, no matter the outcome of their scores. This is an experience I will never forget, and I am so glad I got to be a part of it.” Many of the volunteers who went to Special Olympics go on to remember and cherish what a great experience this really is. Another volunteer from Okawville, Kristen Althoff, said, “I loved seeing how excited the athletes got, and I was happy to help make this competition possible for them. I could tell it meant a lot to the athletes.”

Okawville has been involved in the Special Olympics for quite some time now, and it is always greatly appreciated by the event personnel. In some cases, the event would not happen without the volunteer help the students of Okawville bring. Tricia Schleifer, Okawville Guidance Counselor, and NHS and SLT advisor, is a big advocate for the event. Mrs. Schleifer had this to say about the start of our volunteer journey, “We started volunteering at the Special Olympics about ten years ago to fulfill our NHS and SLT service mission.  For many years, we volunteered at Bowling in the fall and Swimming in the spring.  Recently, our school has been the host of the winter Basketball competition, which we will be hosting this year on December 18.” This being said, whenever December 18 rolls around, the NHS and SLT will be there once again to lend a hand to support this amazing event. 

Hannah Miller hugs an athlete after handing out medals. (Mrs. Schleifer)
Alayna Kraus helps an athlete bowl. (Mrs. Schleifer)