I’ve always had a soft spot for people with disabilities. They have not done anything to bring it on themselves. Generally, they really take it in stride with good spirits. The firm sponsored the United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland fundraiser one year, I volunteered at the event, and that was my largest exposure to people with disabilities. It was uplifting to be around people like that who were genuinely happy and grateful to have volunteers.
Why do you volunteer your time specifically with this organization?
Skiing is a big part of my life, and the Special Olympics melded the two interests. I have always been involved in my daughter’s ski team. When I was on the Board of Directors of the Baltimore Ski Club, a lot of the members volunteered at the Special Olympics and talked about how rewarding it was to interact with the athletes. My wife did this in 2016 and loved it, thought it was a rewarding experience, and when we talked about doing something like this it made the most sense.
Unfortunately, because of the background I have in ski racing, I was over-qualified, and ended up doing a lot of the things that others were not prepared to do—judging the races, handling the gates, etc. Many of the others got to be the escorts for the athletes, which I hoped to do. However, I realized that they would not have been able to put on the event without those of us who knew how to run these types of events.
I hung out for the awards ceremony after the competition was over and saw how excited the athletes were; I didn’t get the one-on-one experience I thought I would get but it was very rewarding at the end of the day to see the effect I had on making the participants so happy. Since Maryland Special Olympics is usually short on people with ski racing experience, I plan to participate next year.
It was held at Whitetail Resort—the weekend prior ended up being their last weekend of the season due to weather; the staff took snow from one trail to another just to be able to make the event possible. The workers worked very hard to make it happen. Also, the military, local police and fire volunteers were wonderful.
What is your favorite memory of working with this organization?
I was given a hat identifying me as a volunteer to wear during the event. I ran into an athlete who saw my hat and asked me to take his photo. I, of course, said I’d be happy to and helped him find a nice backdrop with the Whitetail Resort logo and I asked for his phone to take the picture, to which he responded that he didn’t have one and wanted me to take it on my phone. I obliged, and then asked how I could send the picture to him. He said that it wasn’t necessary, and was just very happy that someone had taken his photo. He was over the moon to be “a famous athlete” worthy of the paparazzi that day.