Volunteer Spotlight - Dave Parkinson
There are few things as important to our organization as the volunteers. At its core, Special Olympics Manitoba (SOM) could not function without our people; our volunteers who are dedicated to the mission of enriching the lives of individuals with an intellectual disability through participation in sport. Every competition, every fundraising event, every weekly program that runs in all seven regions of the province would not exist without the tireless efforts of our volunteers. And it would be difficult to talk about our volunteers without mentioning Dave Parkinson.
From track meets, to fundraising golf tournaments, to bowling tournaments, to provincial games – Dave has been there for it all. Athletes, coaches, families, staff – they all know Dave. His passion and dedication to our athletes is inspiring.
So how does someone like Dave get involved? We asked him to tell us in his own words what drew him to our organization and what made him stay.
“I didn’t know much about SOM before volunteering as a Kinsmen Club member. My first volunteer experience was at a Kinsmen Track and Field meet. I’d been asked to work a security position guarding the volunteer room when one of the athletes came upstairs upset because she didn’t want to compete. Her parents had come up to console her and convince her to get out there and give it a try,” Dave explains. “It was in that moment that I knew ‘this is what it’s all about’, giving the athlete the opportunity to not only compete, but giving them the courage to try something new.”
Dave watched the athlete run her race, and afterwards she came back up and gave him the biggest hug, showing him her ribbons, smile as wide as can be. “It touched me and that was it for me,” said Dave. “It reminded me of a quote from the movie Highway to Heaven – ‘you go to one thing and you’re hooked’. This was my one thing.”
According to Dave, the most valuable aspect of volunteering at SOM, and the thing that keeps him coming back time and again, is the give and the take. It’s not just about giving his time, it’s about the relationships he develops with the athletes, and the feeling he gets when an athlete remembers him and is genuinely excited to see him. Special Olympics has opened his eyes to what sport and competition is really about. There’s nothing quite like it, and he believes that overall, volunteering has made him a better person.
“There’s a different atmosphere at a Special Olympics event. There’s nothing else like it and you need to experience it to understand it,” said Dave.
When it comes down to it, volunteers like Dave are the backbone of our organization and we appreciate the dedication to the cause. Thanks Dave, for showing us what a passion for volunteering truly looks like!