It is no secret that major sporting events like the National Games Berlin 2022 depend on volunteers. Their reasons for showing up are as varied as their countries of origin. We want to say thank you once again and learn a little more about some of our volunteers and their experiences.
During our event, more than 2,500 volunteers were on duty throughout Berlin at the various venues, competitions and activities. Without them, it would not have been possible to create this unforgettable experience for all participants and especially for our athletes.
Gabi lends a hand in the media center. The lively, cheerful woman in her red t-shirt is immediately noticeable. She fills press bags and takes care of the photographers on site. The 64-year-old is not new to the Special Olympics - since 2014, she has always been there, whether at state competitions or National Games.
"I'm happy to be here in Berlin and to be able to help." Gabi traveled from Cologne especially for the Games and took special leave. "My motivation to be here is simple: I want to help lift the stigma of marginalized groups," she says.
Our volunteers travel to the Games from all over Germany and even further in the world to be the very much needed helping hands, friendly contact persons or pioneering helpers on site for a week. They were recognizable during the event by their red t-shirts with the inscription "Ich helfe gerne.” which means “I am happy to help." in German.
For Magnus from Wernigerode in Saxony-Anhalt, these are the first National Games he participates in. "Last year, I attended the regional games and was immediately fascinated by the concept of Special Olympics. Before, I had hardly any contact with people with disabilities, that has changed there fundamentally. That's also the reason why I'm here now," he adds.
Magnus is responsible for checking in all the volunteers on the grounds of Olympiapark during his shift. "That's about 400 people a day that I come into contact with. It's incredible where the volunteers arrive from. I've had people from India, Turkey, Abu Dhabi and pretty much every corner of Germany standing here. I find that incredibly exciting," says the 31-year-old.
The volunteers take care of the set-up and dismantling, they are often the first on site - and then also pretty much the last to leave. They are the people behind the track markers. The ones who accompany the athletes to their competitions. They are the same people who are asked by spectators for the right way to the ticket office.
Every fan should know what it means to be a volunteer, to help build such an event, and how much work, time, heart and soul goes into it.
In Short, our volunteers are the secret stars of the Special Olympics National Games Berlin 2022, and they enjoy it, enjoy being part of the sporting event, or rather actively contributing to its success without being in the spotlight.
Martina feels the same way: "We can only help each other. That's why I find the motto of these games (#UnbeatableTogether) is so fitting. Together we are unbeatable. We just have to join hands and jump over our own shadow. A smile doesn't hurt, but can open hearts," she says on the sidelines of the family reception. There, she's assigned to the admissions desk.
"I don't care what I get to do, the main thing is that I can be here and help. For this I have taken unpaid leave. Money doesn't matter to me. If someone remembers me who I helped before, that's worth more than all the money in the world."
She continues: "I would like every fan, no matter what sport, to make the effort to see what volunteers do. To understand how much work goes into such an event. Every fan should know what it means to be a volunteer, to help build such an event, and how much work, time, heart and soul goes into it."
For the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 (17-25 June 2023), you can already apply to become a volunteer. Up to 20,000 volunteers are being sought for this mega-event. All information about the different areas of responsibility, your benefits as a Special Olympics volunteer, the requirements to become part of the team and much more can be found here: