Guest Post by Special Olympics Massachusetts Intern and Curry College Student Jillian Macomber:
“How was it, Jake?” asked his father.
“Dad, it may have been one of the best days of my life,” Jake replied.
I had the privilege of interviewing Jake Stenquist, a freshman at The Rivers School in Hudson, MA, who had his first experience volunteering at this year’s Special Olympics Massachusetts Winter Games. Jake is one busy kid. His hobbies and activities include playing on the Rivers’ varsity soccer team, Stars of Mass BU15, jazz drums, as well as hockey and lacrosse. Jake is also busy with academics having a passion for science.
Jake is currently taking a course in honors biochemistry, of which he says he “loves the challenge of balancing equations with the elements or figuring out the probability involved in genetics.”
He has dreams of playing college soccer and going to medical school. At 15-years-old, he already has many goals and dreams in place. With his busy schedule you wonder how he even has time to volunteer.
Jake’s mom signed him up to volunteer at a Special Olympics basketball event in Shrewsbury which he said he walked into“completely blind.” He was assigned to S.T.E.P, a basketball team from Lowell. He told me that they were a new team at the event and their whole fan section was there. He said everyone on the team had family members there chanting their names and cheering for the team.
“I had no idea what I was getting involved in,” said Jake, “I didn’t realize how much fun I was going to have as a volunteer, along with the amount of fun the athletes had. The event was so competitive, yet there was the perfect balance of the athletes’ competitive spirit and their respect for their peers.”
Sometimes the biggest rewards in life come from the unexpected and this seemed to be the case for Jake. “I know kids believe that they have better things to do with their time, but they don’t. This event has changed my whole perspective about volunteering,” said Jake. “I used to think that it was a burden; I was giving my time to someone else. The athletes are gracing you with their time. They taught me so many lessons about life, which I would have never thought about.”
Jake’s advice to someone who is thinking of volunteering is simple. “Sign up, the process was quick and easy. It took me ten minutes to fill out my form, pick my event and then receive the confirmation email.”
Special Olympics is known for changing lives. What is incredible about this organization is that not only does it change the lives of the athletes participating, but it changes the lives of the people volunteering as well. Jake Stenquist is the perfect example of how it can change one’s perspective on life. I asked him if Special Olympics will be a part of his future in any way.
“I envy the Special Olympics staff that get to work with the athletes day in and day out. It is an awesome experience that I hope to be a part of for the next three years of high school.”