Helping Through Selflessness

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

On Oct. 28, the Volunteer Fair kicked off by bringing organizations from all around the base and local area to the Carswell Field House offering different and unique opportunities for participants to sign their name and participate in various events.

One volunteer program that stood out with its bright white and red colors was the Special Olympics Texas booth. The Special Olympics Organization is an all-volunteer force with the goal of improving the quality of life for their intellectually disabled athletes.

“We give them the opportunity that they don’t normally get in their normal, everyday life,” said Luann Chastain, Special Olympics Area 14/Big Country area director. “It lets them be on a team and feel like they’re a part of something.”

SO is also “the most credible charity in America” according to a survey in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. SO Texas has more than 36,000 volunteers that serve as coaches, officials, committee members, competition assistants and much more.

The SO Texas is a year-round program, holding more than 300 competitions annually on local, regional and state levels for athletes to compete in.

“We also offer unified programs, where a ‘typically developed’ person can actually compete with an intellectually disabled athlete,” said Chastain. “So that gives them that peer to peer comradery.”

Unified sports join people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. The teams are made up of people of similar age and ability, which makes practices and games more challenging and exciting for everyone.

SO is sustained solely by private donations from citizens, corporations and organizations throughout the state of Texas and worldwide.

The program has helped and served more than 53,000 intellectually disabled athletes in Texas alone.  Special Olympics are also helping more than 4.5 million athletes compete in 170 countries worldwide.

“The program is life-changing,” said Chastain. “This program really helps their self-esteem and it gives them a sense of accomplishment, I saw participants go from middle school to high school to adults and I saw them change how they felt about themselves.”

For more information about Special Olympics Texas, contact a14@sotx.org or call 325-677-3200.

“We really try to bring people in so we can bring our athletes out,” said Chastain.