Doctors are busy. That’s pretty much understood, right? I’ve had great relationships with the majority of my primary care doctors and specialists, but I still know that I get my fifteen minutes of patient-fame, and that’s it, they’re on to the next one. Can you blame them? They come in early, stay late, remain on-call for their evenings and weekends; all their time occupied with flues and fungi and the like. Knowing this, you can imagine how I felt when I learned that a large part of my job here at Special Olympics Massachusetts would be finding clinicians to, get this, volunteer.
For every Healthy Athletes screening offered, SOMA relies on volunteer clinicians to spend tens of hours preparing the details of the event. They submit grants, order supplies, copy papers; you name it. On the day of a screening, these same volunteers not only perform clinical evaluations, they also do check-in and check-out, clean equipment, etc. Without committed volunteers, Special Olympics wouldn’t have been able to provide services for the 700,000 athletes who’ve already benefited from Healthy Athletes screenings worldwide.
It’s been about six months since I started as Healthy Athletes Program Coordinator. During that time, I’ve learned a lot about Special Olympics and even more about health care. My biggest lesson, though, has been about people. I have been privileged to see how many clinicians are willing to commit themselves to improving the lives of SOMA athletes. I’ve worked with physicians, physical therapists, optometrists, and dentists who, armed with the staggering truth that people with disabilities are receiving sub-standard heath care in this country, are dedicated to making a difference (even if it means driving for 2 hours on their only free day to see our athletes outside in the freezing cold). I am proud and humbled to be a part of this, and I’m excited as our group continues to grow.
Our Fall Soccer Tournament is just around the corner, and it’s going to be a big event for Healthy Athletes. We plan on offering two screenings that day: Fun Fitness, which is conducted by Physical Therapists to screen athletes’ strength, balance and flexibility, and because of the dedication of one of our newest clinical volunteers, SOMA will be offering Fit Feet (podiatric screening) for the first time. Athletes will have the chance to see a passionate, licensed podiatrist who can recommend proper footwear, as well as screen for a host of foot conditions.
So, here’s a big thank you, in advance, to all the volunteers that will make Healthy Athletes possible at Fall Tournament. Our athletes are in good hands…