Editor's Note: CMU's Caesar Rodriguez was one of several CMU student-athletes to volunteer at the State of Michigan Special Olympics Summer Games held at CMU earlier this month. He shared the memories of his experience with CMUChippewas.com.
When I first volunteered for Special Olympics back in the summer of 2009, I was just taking a class that required us to help set up for the events. I thought nothing of it, and just saw it as another class to help bring up my grade point average. Turns out, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. At opening ceremony, the first day of seeing all the athletes so excited and energetic to be there and ready to compete, I was in awe. There was so much joy and happiness. It seemed that the Olympians’ only worry in the world was how much fun they were about to have in competing for the gold.
It was very humbling to be a part of such an incredible program like Special Olympics. A football player wearing a jersey is no big deal, but to the Olympians, we were something more, something special. It brings me happiness to be a part of a school that makes an effort and takes the time to give these athletes hope and a chance to compete while having fun. The smiles on the faces of those athletes is something to be remembered. Seeing how happy it makes them to just be out with friends and other Olympians is a great feeling, one I wish more people could have.
My teammates and I really enjoyed helping Special Olympics. We enjoy their enthusiasm and are inspired by their passion for competing. Together, we like to try and match their intensity, but the Olympians seem to surpass us every time. One event that I enjoy watching is the weightlifting competition. I remember once it was down to the last of the Olympians competing at the last event, the bench press. There was about 405 pounds on the bar for the Olympian to attempt to bench press. As the Olympians lifted the bar, the fans and I yelled in excitement, cheering them on. One of the Olympians brought the bar to his chest and began to press the weight up, getting the crowd going as people began jumping up and down. The Olympian locked his arms out and after hearing the judge say "Good lift," he racked the weight. From that moment on, I have told myself to somehow be a part of Special Olympics.
This event is almost just as enjoyable for me as it is for the athletes. They make this event, and to all of the people who put in countless hours in preparation, I thank you all as well. Without their dedication in planning, the athletes would not be able to enjoy themselves the way they do, and our community wouldn’t be granted the opportunity to witness their joy and excitement participating in this remarkable event.