(WLNS) – 70 teams headed to Lansing this weekend to compete in the final tournament of Michigan Special Olympics bowling and poly hockey.
For Charles Gibbard, who is competing in the poly hockey tournament, Special Olympics is about the people.
“Get to know them over the years like some of the teams that I know the coaches, the players and the parents and friends that come and watch us,” Gibbard said.
Terry Grost is Gibbard’s coach but Grost’s involvement with Special Olympics Michigan started after his son became an athlete.
Grost says joining the team has helped his son physically, mentally and emotionally.
“He struggled a lot in school,” Grost explained. “The Special Olympics was a perfect outlet for him where he could be accepted”.
Volunteering looks differently for each person, Anne Goudie volunteers full time as the Ingham County Director, and gets to see the impact on and off the court.
“We see growth in schools and in classrooms through their athletic participation”.
“I love Special Olympics, I love all my classmates and my teammates, I love all of them,” Special Olympics athlete Maddie Walsh said.
From athletes, to coaches to volunteers it’s easy to see how special this organization can be.
“I become a better person too,” Grost said. “It’s extremely rewarding and I mean that from the bottom of my heart”.