“Little did I know that my life would be forever changed”

Kelly has been a volunteer with Special Olympics Minnesota for over two decades.

Kelly Rogers has lived in the Twin Cities her whole life and currently works as a nurse at the University of Minnesota. Before her career as a nurse, Kelly was an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, which is how she first got connected with Special Olympics Minnesota.

“Around 22 years ago, someone handed me a sheet of paper and said ‘Special Olympics needs an interpreter for Summer Games. Can you do it?’ It was at that event that I got hooked and met some of the amazing athletes, staff and volunteers that make up Special Olympics Minnesota.”

From there, Kelly’s involvement grew and grew. Over the years, she has volunteered with Special Olympics Minnesota in a variety of ways.

“I helped on the event management team for most state competitions, interpreted at various events, helped facilitate Athlete Leadership Programs…really anything and everything my schedule would allow.”

Most recently, Kelly traveled with Team Minnesota to USA Games in Orlando as the team nurse—a volunteer role she also filled at the 2018 USA Games in Seattle.

“I say it often, but I get SO much more out of volunteering than I have ever put into it,” says Kelly. “The number one reason I do it is for the athletes. It’s a joy and an honor to watch these individuals show the world what they are capable of doing as they break down roadblocks to succeed in big and little ways.”

Volunteering with Special Olympics Minnesota is something that Kelly shares with her entire family. Kelly’s husband, Luke, is the Clinical Director for Special Olympics Minnesota’s Fit Feet program, and her two children Isaac and Lydia often accompany them to events and competitions.

“Luke and I desire for our children to grow up where they see ability rather than disability. We are thankful that they have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing community with us.”

Kelly’s favorite part of volunteering with Special Olympics Minnesota? “Hands down, it’s the athletes.” 

“If you have the opportunity to get to know these amazing individuals, it will change your life for the better, I promise,” says Kelly. “I love walking into an event and getting hugs, high-fives and warm greetings from athletes I have known for over 20 years. I love meeting new athletes and learning about their journeys, and I love bearing witness to the greatness that happens when we all work together to help others succeed.”

When asked what she would tell someone considering volunteering with Special Olympics, Kelly said, “Don’t walk, RUN to sign up! I promise you won’t regret it. I am an example of how you can start small and grow from there…little did I know that when I agreed to interpret for an hour one night that my life would be forever changed for the better.”

Thank you, Kelly, for devoting your time, energy and talent to Special Olympics Minnesota—we are so grateful for you!

Interested in volunteering with Special Olympics Minnesota? Check out our upcoming volunteer opportunities or reach out to [email protected] to learn more.