Hundreds of volunteers needed for Special Olympics State Fall Games

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — A major sporting event is returning to the Tri-Cities this weekend. The Special Olympics State Fall Games will see hundreds of athletes with intellectual disabilities compete in flag football, volleyball, bowling and gymnastics.

The three-day event, beginning with an opening ceremony on Friday, Nov. 18, is one of the highlights of the year for competing athletes.

The event is returning to the Tri-Cities following a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic.

“Tri-Cities hosted the Special Olympics Fall Games in 2019,” said Joe Westsik, chair of the local organizing committee. “We had a very successful event with lots of support from the community and athletes from across the state participating in the games.”

750 athletes from across the state will compete, bringing with them 200 coaches.

An event of this magnitude requires many helping hands.

“We estimate we need about 600 volunteers for the three days,” Westsik said.

While many of the specialized competition volunteer roles have been filled, there are still plenty of open positions.

“People to help with serving the lunches to the athletes each day during the competition, hosting, just greeting the athletes coming in, for opening ceremonies we need people to help lead the athletes into the ceremony itself,” Westsik said.

Gregory Berg is a local Special Olympics athlete. He has been bowling for more than two decades and has had much success in competition.

“It means that I’ve done something that’s actually worthy… worth something,” Berg said.

Berg won’t be competing at the State Fall Games, but he’ll be there cheering on his friends and he hopes to see the community step up to help.

“We need volunteers to help us do that sort of thing … To come and enjoy the games with us and to help us make it more interesting and fun.”

A list of available volunteer positions and time slots can be found here.

Westsik says there is a particular need for bowling lane monitors and volunteers to help distribute lunches.