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Winter Edition
Volume 100, Number 3

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What makes volunteering for the Special Olympics so special?

Messiah College received the Pennsylvania Special Olympics School of the Year award for its commitment to hosting the Area M Special Olympics over the last twenty years.  The College provides its students and employees with a day off during the Special Olympics, to encourage them to participate and serve the visiting athletes or other parts of the community.  We talked with students and administrators who have served during the Special Olympics as Buddies, as organizers, or simply helping to serve lunch.  Here are their reflections on the day.


Creta Bieber

"Last year was my third time to be a Buddy. I enjoy doing it because it's exciting to be part of a special day for a group of people who don't get to feel so good about themselves that often. It warms my heart to see all of the people giving their time to help with the event and also to see the Messiah students interacting with the kids.  You never know what will be the most important part of the day to your little Buddy.  Last year, my Buddy was so much more interested in that larger-than-life characters than competing in the events.  He had a wonderful time chasing them around and ordering them to dance with him!  He was quite a character.  He won his racing event.  Then, we walked down to see the fun stuff in the parking lot and he became fascinated with the characters.  I couldn't get him to go back up to the field for his second event.  So we just enjoyed the day, dancing with the giant rabbits." 

— Creta Bieber, assistant to the vice provost/dean of students

Allison Petry '09

"Special Olympics allows you to come out of your comfort zone and allows you to touch someone else's life by being the hands and feet of Jesus. I think it's definitely special that students come together on our campus to help others. The passion that is involved in planning and the volunteers is especially humbling with the amount of people who give up their time to help out these individuals. 

       I did Special Olympics 2 of my four years. What brought me back was the joy on each person's face as they won events and got to hang out with other people who made them feel special. I also came back because I knew that Messiah having a service day is an amazing opportunity for every student to participate in.

       I was both a buddy and a clown. I saw the joy on the individuals' faces in both instances even though they were totally different. The smiles were my favorite memory. . . the joy of simply having bubbles blown or even simple balloon animals. The kids, the adults, these individuals who work so hard for this one goal, that is the most memorable."

— Allison Petry '09

Rachel Frysztacki

"I participated in Special Olympics at my high school, so I was really excited to learn that they had it here at Messiah. My freshman year I was a Buddy and last year I decided to join the planning committee, as the student director in training. This year I am the student director for the committee. As someone with a brother with special needs, the day is extra special to me. The excitement on the athletes' faces as they finish their events is definitely the biggest highlight for me. The mission of the Special Olympics makes Messiah a great place to host it, as we, as a college, open up our arms to those that may be deemed different than us. I learned a lot from the experiences that I have had with Special Olympics, specifically that God calls us to accept and to love everyone because we are all His children. Everybody's different, and with these athletes, their differences are just a bit more visible than ours. They are absolutely beautiful people with a lot to offer the world, if we will just be willing to learn from them. It has been an honor to be a part of the Olympics at Messiah, and I'm really excited that Messiah has been so welcoming to this opportunity to host."

— Rachel Frysztacki '10

Melissa Deibler

"As a first year student at Messiah, the idea of Special Olympics was very new to me.  While I had vaguely heard of it before, it was never something that I chose to pursue.  However, as the warm breezes filled the air and the flowers began to bloom, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the excitement that so many college students, faculty and staff expressed as the Area M Special Olympics date drew near. The campus energy and enthusiasm was contagious. After talking to numerous students who had participated in Special Olympics before, I was eager to sign up and immerse myself in this experience. This was truly a decision that I have never regretted as I have continued to participate in the Special Olympics every year. 

       Being paired with an athlete as a Buddy for the day has truly been an unforgettable experience. It is so exciting to be by their side, cheering them on every step of the way. Seeing my athletes stand proudly on the medal stands, smiles radiating from their faces as they hold their ribbons high, I am enamored by this magical moment.  Now, as a senior, I am eagerly awaiting the return of the Special Olympics to Messiah’s campus. While I was the one to provide the encouragement and support, the athletes gave me something far greater than I had ever expected.  While I volunteered to be their Buddy, they reciprocated that love as they instilled in me a sense of hope during the difficult times and a sense of inspiration to follow your dreams."

—Melissa Deibler '09

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