Steve Giddings and his wife always talked about volunteering with Special Olympics Minnesota, but due to circumstances they never got the chance to do it together. In late 2017, Steve’s wife passed away after nearly twenty years battling cancer.
“I was devastated and lost,” says Steve. “After a while, I remembered our conversations about Special Olympics and decided to check out the Special Olympics Minnesota website.”
As he explored his options for getting involved, Steve found information for an upcoming basketball tournament in Monticello and decided to sign up as an event volunteer.
“The love, support, sportsmanship, compassion and inclusion that I witnessed that day was so powerful, wonderful and inspiring. It really lifted me up.”
Steve couldn’t get enough of Special Olympics. From that initial basketball competition, he started volunteering at every event he could find: bowling, bocce, softball, track, golf, flag football and more. Eventually Special Olympics Minnesota staff took notice of his dedication and approached him about being involved on a deeper level as a member of an Area Sports Management Team.
“I was not only interested, but I was honored to be asked,” says Steve. “Special Olympics came into my life when I needed it most and put some sunshine back in my life. For that I will forever be grateful.”
From there, Steve’s role as a volunteer continued to grow and evolve. Over the years he has trained hundreds of event volunteers, helped at Polar Plunge events and other fundraisers, and recently had the opportunity to travel with Team Minnesota to the 2022 USA Games as a Youth Leadership coach.
“Some of my favorite memories are from being a part of Team Minnesota,” says Steve. “Seeing the inclusion, love and sportsmanship throughout the week was truly amazing. It was a life-changing experience.”
The incredible people that make up the Special Olympics community is what keeps Steve coming back.
“It’s wonderful to be a part of such a very special community. I love the excitement and effort of the athletes as they compete, and I love seeing smiles on their faces and on the faces of family members in the crowd,” says Steve. “Being able to share that joy and feeling of support is so special.”
Steve wants others to experience the same joy. One of his favorite things is to see other volunteers—especially those volunteering for the first time—witness the power of inclusion at a Special Olympics Minnesota competition.
“The Special Olympics community always makes you feel included and appreciated,” says Steve. “As a volunteer you see first-hand how Special Olympics changes the lives of athletes and their families, but it can also change yours.”
Thank you, Steve, for living the mission of Special Olympics Minnesota every day. You spread meaningful inclusion and joy everywhere you go!