By: Matt Millett
Hi, my name is Matthew Millett and I’m a Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) athlete. I participate with Seven Hills and Shrewsbury local programs and have been involved with SOMA for 17 years. I’m also on the Board of Directors for SOMA and have volunteered for 5 years at Over the Edge, a fundraising event.
SOMA has changed my life over these past 17 years by allowing me to come out of my shell. When I first started, I was a shy person who just graduated high school, but now 17 years later I can talk to groups about Special Olympics. I have spoken about SOMA in places ranging from Marlborough MA, to Harvard University, to sitting down with my Senators in Washington DC and in Cape Town, South Africa. Sports is important to me because it teaches valuable lessons, whether it’s to be on time to an event, to be courteous to the officials or to respect your opponents. Sports is where everyone is on an even playing field.
My favorite story from 2015 was back in January at St. Marks School for a community basketball day held there. The students and teachers came out in droves to help put on a great day. From playing on their varsity court, to having the students doing play by play announcements and how excited the students were when an athlete hit a half-court shot. It was a great day all around and it was because of the involvement of the volunteers.
Volunteers make a difference by making SOMA a better experience. Volunteers are the backbone of having a great experience because they interact with the athletes. All the volunteers I meet are upbeat and positive, which is important especially if an athlete is having a bad day. If an athlete sees a volunteer engaging at their job, it will help lift their spirits.
I would like to say thank you to all of the 2015 volunteers, you made this a great year for SOMA. Whether it was for just one day, at multiple events, or if you volunteered with a team, I hope you experienced the joy that comes along with being a part of Special Olympics where sportsmanship is still evident and the joy of playing is still visible. I hope if you enjoyed volunteering with SOMA in 2015 that you will come back again in 2016 and help continue the growth that SOMA is on.