Volunteer Highlight: Austin From
Our organization is only as strong as our community, and we are pleased to call this exceptional volunteer a part of ours. Austin From, a program volunteer with the Blue Devils Floor Hockey team has been recognized as a community builder award winner for his outstanding work with Special Olympics Manitoba (SOM). As part of this award, Austin chose to direct a donation to SOM and we are so grateful!
Austin's commitment to SOM is deeply personal, as his brother-in-law Craig is an athlete who lives with him and his wife, Alisha. Craig has benefited tremendously from the programs and services provided by Special Olympics Manitoba and Austin has had a front-row seat to the impact our programs have on an athlete’s life.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when many Special Olympics Manitoba programs were shut down, Austin saw firsthand how important these programs are to athletes like Craig. For many, it’s not just a way to stay active and participate in sports; it is also their entire social life. Through their weekly programs, they can connect with peers, build meaningful relationships, and feel a sense of belonging and community. Seeing the impact that the shutdown had on Craig was particularly difficult for Austin, who recognized just how important these programs are to the athletes' overall well-being.
“It was always in the back of my mind [to volunteer] – Craig has been a huge advocate of his sports and needing something to do,” explains Austin. “I kept saying ‘One day I’d get into coaching if they ever needed help’. When an email came through with a need for volunteers for the Blue Devils Floor Hockey program, that was it. Alisha and I signed up right away.”
Austin says that one of the best parts about volunteering is getting to know the athletes, goofing around and being one of the “guys”. He has fostered meaningful relationships with the athletes in his program, creating an environment of encouragement and support, while also helping to create a sense of belonging and connection among participants and their families.
Austin wanted to add that he is particularly inspired by sponsors and others who help facilitate the programs.
“I was thinking at the Provincial Winter Games, about how many sponsors we have who help put on these events,” he said. “A few weeks later and I received this award, and I knew I wanted the funds directed to SOM.”
Congratulations again to Austin on this well-deserved recognition and thank you for your commitment and the energy you bring to our organization!
If Austin has inspired you to take the leap and get involved, we have programs that are in desperate need of volunteers across the province.
Head to our Volunteer page to learn more, and maybe one day we'll be highlighting you!