Putting the 'special' in Special Olympics

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CORNWALL, Ontario - Chelsey Lefebvre can remember, with crystal clarity, the occasion when her volunteer time with Special Olympics finally paid off for one of her young charges.

Lefebvre recently completed her first year as a volunteer soccer coach for the local Special Olympics chapter and has already signed on to help with the basketball program this fall, before returning to indoor soccer at year's end.

The reason she got into coaching Special Olympics lies mainly with her brother Riley, who grapples with Aspberger syndrome. But the reason she has enjoyed the experience lies in a breakthrough from a young man who wanted nothing to do with soccer when he hit the pitch this summer.

"The first time he showed up, he cried," she said. "But by his third time out he was calling my name and following me around everywhere.

"Emotionally it affected me more than anything."

Lefebvre said making a connection with Special Olympic athletes, has kept her wanting more.

"I would do it four times a week if I could," she said with a laugh. "I've been playing soccer for more than 20 years...but I just got attracted to helping people with challenges."

Special Olympics is hosting a free coaching course on Sept. 27 at Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School. The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Special Olmpics Ontario boasts more than 10,000 volunteers and Stacey McKeown, eastern Ontario district developer for organization, said every one of them is valued.

"We wouldn't be able to run our programs without our volunteers," she said. "We rely heavily on the work that our volunteers do."

To register for the course, contact McKeown here.

Organizations: Special Olympics

Geographic location: Ontario

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