Several hundred Mount students came together to volunteer at the Maryland Special Olympics Fall Sports Fest, which was held at the ARCC (Academic, Recreational, and Athletics Complex), on Oct. 21, 2023, turning the east side of the Mount St. Mary's University campus into a center of excitement, inclusion, and athletic excellence. This yearly competition, which commemorated its 30th year this year, gathered athletes from different counties in Maryland together for a day of competition, friendship, and life-changing events. The university's sporting teams and student groups provided the volunteers, who were looked after by CORE student leaders in the Center for Service. Each volunteer was essential to the success of the event.
The Mount St. Mary's University community showed its constant dedication to diversity and service as the fall leaves painted an amazing backdrop, helping to create an event that has grown to be a beloved tradition. A sense of accomplishment and community is fostered by the Special Olympics Fall Sports Fest, which provides a singular platform for people with developmental challenges to exhibit their skills and abilities. This experience lasts well beyond the event itself.
Together from many Maryland counties come athletes, volunteers, and supporters for this incredible day of togetherness. The importance of the occasion shows the major influence of the Special Olympics in creating a feeling of unity and togetherness. The athletes come from diverse backgrounds, but they all want to compete, make friends, and celebrate their successes.
A committed group of volunteers, mostly Mount St. Mary's University students, are the backbone of the event. They give freely of their time and effort to make sure the Special Olympics Fall Sports Fest goes off without any issues. These volunteers, overseen by CORE student leaders from the Center for Service, come from various student groups and sporting teams at the institution.
Student volunteers carry out a wide range of duties to make sure that various parts of the event run well. They help and motivate powerlifting athletes by acting as spotters. They create an exciting environment that motivates the contestants by running along and supporting track athletes. They are also essential to the smooth operation of flag football games and the wonderful experiences of its players. In addition to these crucial tasks, student volunteers support the athletes' accomplishments by supporting award ceremonies.
Volunteering in the Maryland Special Olympics Fall Sports Fest is a memorable highlight of many Mounts St. Mary's University students' Mount experiences, as well as an obligatory service requirement. Students get a rare chance to interact with others at the event, which promotes empathy, understanding, and a respect for diversity.
Paola Aleman (C’25) talked about her volunteer experience, stating, "I never would have expected how this event influenced my heart. Seeing their commitment and excitement is amazing, and it makes me realize the real purpose of athletics and inclusivity."
The Maryland Special Olympics Fall Sports Fest is a long-lasting connection that connects the university with the community, not just a one-time volunteer event. Through their participation, students discover how diversity enhances both their own lives and the lives of the athletes they assist, and that inclusion is a real, real-world skill. This lasting tradition serves as an example of how Mount St. Mary's University and the larger community may benefit from one another. The occasion goes much beyond the playing field, encouraging unity, compassion, and kindness among those involved. It draws attention to how sports can foster diversity, reduce obstacles, and provide people with developmental challenges as a platform to thrive.