More than 1,100 athletes and coaches are coming to Ithaca from across the state later this month to participate in The New York Special Olympics and CEO Stacey Hengsterman says the largest statewide competition needs your help.

The New York Special Olympics is looking for 800 volunteers. “We only have about 145, which is a little bit slower than usual, so we really, really need the community’s help,” Stacey says. “Volunteers are everything.”

No experience is required and volunteers are needed to fulfill multiple roles including parking, handing out medals, concessions and more. Volunteers can sign up for windows of time, starting at about 3-4 hours and beyond based on availability.

Stacey recommends getting a group together for a day trip down to Ithaca. She also says it’s the perfect opportunity for kids who need volunteer hours for honors societies and graduation.

The opening ceremony kicks off on Friday June 24th, featuring a parade of athletes. The competition starts Saturday June 25th. While the event is a competition, Stacey adds that it isn’t always the medal that matters.

“Really, for these athletes, it’s the training they’ve done 2-3 times a week to get to these games,” she says. “It’s their chance to show what they’ve accomplished. You’ll see the best teamwork.”

Volunteer opportunities are listed on the website by sport. “We really, really do need the community to come out,” she adds. “I think it’s the best volunteer opportunity out there.”

The 2022 New York Special Olympics is happening June 24th and 25th on the Ithaca College Campus and throughout the Ithaca community.

For more information and to sign up to volunteer, visit SpecialOlympics-ny.org.