Special Olympics is recruiting fans not atheletes

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    By Brooke McCoy

    The Utah Special Olympics draws volunteers, but fans are hard to find.

    To solve the problem, Utah Special Olympics recruited local high school students to volunteer as fans during the events.

    Each year evaluators come from the national level to look at the Utah Special Olympics, said Diahan Southard, a senior from Kennewick, Wash., majoring in microbiology.

    “Our downfall was that not many people attended the events,” Southard said. “So we recruited high school students to get people in the stands.”

    Southard and her committee of five other Special Olympics volunteers contacted 10 surrounding high schools to recruit. They focused on meeting with the high school’s student council, Southard said.

    “The shining stars were Spanish Fork High School and Orem High School,” Southard said. “I am so impressed with those students. They are committed and really motivated.”

    This is the first year the Special Olympics has reached out to the local high schools for support, Southard said.

    “If everyone brings who they say they will, we should have 150 high school volunteers per day,” Southard said. “Its not as many as I would like, but the student councils at most of the high schools we contacted were in a transitional stage.”

    This year the Utah Special Olympics focused on involving the community, Faustin Stevens said, a senior from Kennewick, Wash., majoring in microbiology.

    Most of the volunteers are not BYU students, Kimber Stevens said, a recent graduate from Kennewick, Wash., who majored in family science.

    A stake from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Orem provided the largest volunteer group with 400 people, Faustin said.

    “On the whole, I think the volunteers this year are stepping it up-they aren’t better people than we’ve had before, but they work harder,” Faustin said.

    Faustin has regularly volunteered for Utah Special Olympics and last year served as director of VIP hosting. He currently serves as volunteer team manager with his wife Kimber.

    The Stevens have about 20 calls per day in the past month regarding the Special Olympics.

    “The hardest thing is making sure all the jobs are fulfilled,” Faustin said.

    Volunteers must watch a brief training video and fill out their personal information, Faustin said.

    Additionally, background checks are required on all manager team positions, which is around 100 people this year, he said.

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