2016 Special Olympics hosted by Elon's Kernodle Center

The annual event held on April 15, 2016, involved more than 350 athletes and 100 Elon volunteers.

By Melina Casados ’17

2016 Special Olympics Spring Games were hosted at Elon University on April 15.
The Special Olympics Spring Games for Alamance County was held at Jerry and Jeanne Robertson Track and Field Complex on Friday, April 15, 2016. The event included over 350 athletes and around 100 Elon volunteers.

First hosted at Elon in 1972, the Special Olympics of Alamance County is one of the Kernodle Center of Service Learning and Community Engagement’s longest running partnerships. The Spring Games is a collaborative event, with a variety of campus and community partners contributing to its success. “I think naturally everybody wants to be a part of it,” said Special Olympics Program Coordinator Steve Glahn.

The Kernodle Center helps recruit students volunteers for the event and coordinate campus partners including Physical Plant, Athletics, Campus Safety and Police, etc. This year there were two Elon student coordinators, Jennifer Kraus and Jessica Reedy. Kraus and Reedy started recruiting volunteers months in advance. Volunteers are paired with an athlete and offer them support as they compete in events throughout the day. While athletes range from elementary school students to adults, Elon volunteers are paired with the adult athletes. Gathering volunteers has been the biggest challenge for the Special Olympics in the past, but Glahn was pleased with the number of volunteers that came out of Friday.

This year was Junior Kelsey Krug’s second year volunteering at Special Olympics. She decided to sign up again after a positive experience her first year. “It is truly a rewarding experience,” said Krug. “Most of the athletes look forward to this event all year and to be a part of something that brings so much joy to them is really amazing.”

Special Olympics Program Coordinator Steve Glahn “You go into it thinking, ‘I’m going to make their day.’ And at the end of the day, it’s just the opposite. It builds everybody up.”

The Special Olympics Spring Games is one of two annual events run through the Kernodle Center. There is also a bowling event that occurs in the fall semester. If you are interested in getting involved please contact specialolympics@elon.edu.