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Special Olympics celebrate 300th volunteer signing up for National Summer Games

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Special Olympics New Zealand this week welcomed the 300th volunteer signing up to be part of the Freemasons New Zealand Special Olympics National Summer Games in Hamilton.

Duncan Enersen and daughter Greer from Waikato were presented with the brand new volunteer uniform by National Summer Games Director Asti Farrell to acknowledge this exciting landmark in the countdown to the games on December 8-12.

Over 600 volunteers will support the over 1,300 athletes who will be competing in 10 sports at eight different venues across Hamilton and Special Olympics Volunteer Manager Nikki Cameron is pleased to have 300 volunteers registered, more than four months out from the opening ceremony.

"The volunteers are the heart and the soul of the games, and we are privileged to have people flying in from all over the country to offer their skills to help our athletes have a great experience," says Nikki.

Waikato farm operations manager Duncan Enersen had been looking for an opportunity to volunteer and when he saw an advert on Facebook, he jumped on the opportunity.

"I had been keen to give something back to the community, but never really got around to it," says Duncan.

"We have four children and one of them has a mild disability, so the Special Olympics seemed like a good event to get involved in," says Duncan, who has no idea what to expect in December, but is up for any job that needs to get done.

"I have taken my son to sessions of Life Unlimited where children with disabilities can play sport, and I really enjoyed that, so I am really looking forward to the Special Olympics."

As Duncan was registering, daughter Greer also decided to join the party and her father says that he is looking forward to sharing the experience with his daughter.

After both had signed up, the 15-year-old student from Waikato Diocesan School for Girls realised that volunteering at the games would also contribute towards her Duke of Edinburgh award.

Volunteer Manager Nikki Cameron says that the Special Olympics are a great opportunity for young people to learn new skills and be part of an amazing event.

"And we really want to encourage those students who are working towards a Duke of Edinburgh medal to sign up because the National Games are a perfect way to earn some credits while you are having fun."

Another Hamilton local to join the volunteer team is Rebecca Aston who was responsible for successfully bidding to bring the games to Hamilton in her role as Major Events Manager for H3 Group, who run Hamilton City Council’s major event venues.

"I am involved in other volunteer work, which I enjoy, so decided to put my hand up in a personal capacity to help out. I’m not sure what volunteer role I will be tasked with, but with my events management background I hope that I can be a useful resource," says Rebecca who adds that her team usually deals with international high-performance sporting events, so the Special Olympics will be a terrific new experience.

"It is a great opportunity for Hamilton to host and showcase sports at a different national level and get the athletes competing at some of the same venues where international teams compete," says Rebecca.

The National Summer Games will be held at 10 first-class venues, including Porritt Stadium, Water World, Uni Rec Ngaruawahia Golf Club, Waikato Equestrian and Claudelands which will be the hub for the games, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, the event village, the Healthy Athletes Programme, as well as the bocce and indoor bowls competitions.

"The city and venues are ready to make sure the Special Olympics athletes are treated like international superstars and we hope their time in Hamilton will be one they always remember," says Rebecca.

For a full list of venues and events click here

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