PHILIPPI, W.Va. – This past weekend Alderson Broaddus University students volunteered at the Special Olympics West Virginia Basketball and Cheerleading State Championship. Five female student-athletes took time out of their weekend to serve as scoreboard operators and basketball book keepers for the games. 
While this is not the first time most of these ladies have served in this capacity as they have previously volunteered at the Special Olympic West Virginia Winter Games, they enjoyed this change of pace from winter weather to indoor sports.
“I’m so thankful that we were able to help out this year and that the venue was close enough to make the trip possible,” said Maureen Muth, AB senior athletic training and sport management major. “It’s extremely rewarding to be a part of something so awesome and community based. These athletes can easily put smiles on anyone’s face and their joy and enthusiasm are sure to inspire any person who watches them compete. The biggest thing I take from volunteering is a sense of humility. Seeing what boundaries they are able to overcome despite everything that is against them is truly moving. It helps to put my life in perspective and remind me that winning isn’t the most important part of life.” 
Other participants Harley Morrison, Tayler Garcia, Britany Wildish, all 2016 graduates and former Women’s Soccer student-athletes, along with Stephanie Gertsakis, a member of the Women’s Tennis team, participated in this active weekend.  In part to the funding for transportation provided by the AB Student Government Association (SGA), the volunteers put in over 45 hours of service combined this weekend.  
“During my three years of working with the Special Olympics, I’ve never experienced such a heartwarming and humbling experience,” said Brittany Wildish. “Working with these athletes has taught me that no matter what obstacles you face, they can always be overcome. Seeing the happiness and joy these athletes experience when participating in these activities is truly a joy for me to watch. Working these events truly has had such a positive effect on me, and I will always hold these athletes in my heart after building relationships with them over the past years. It brings me such happiness to watch these athletes have fun.” 
The West Virginia Special Olympics program hosts a multitude of events for our state’s athletes.  The next state-wide competition will be June 3rd – 5th, 2016 in Charleston, W.Va.   For more information, visit the website www.sowv.org , call the Charleston office at (304) 345-9310, or send an email to info@sowv.org
The AB community would love to have more students, faculty, and staff show support for the games and we encourage volunteers for an upcoming event on April 22nd, 2016 in partnership with AB, New Vision Renewable Energy, and Special Olympics West Virginia.  For more information on the event or service opportunities call (304) 457-6236.  As Stephanie Gertsakis shared, everyone will have a great experience and will be impacted for the better.
“Working the Special Olympics for the second year in a row has only made me realize how great each athletes personality is during the games,” said Gertsakis. “There are constant high fives, smiles, and the sportsmanship is unbelievably fantastic.”
Alderson Broaddus University Assistant Professor of Sport Management Lara Foster, who volunteered as a referee for the games, commented that it’s always an enjoyable time watching students get involved.
“I love watching out Battlers commit their time and efforts to the greater West Virginia community,” said Foster. “Being a part of this event is a memorable experience.  Athletes, coaches, delegation leaders, supporters, and families all contributed to the great experience and I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with the Special Olympics West Virginia program.” 
Students interested in serving can reach out to the Americorps VISTA Madison Riffle at Alderson Broaddus University at (304) 457-6213 or via e-mail rifflemh@ab.edu.