St. Rita Students Volunteer at Special Olympics Medfest at United Center

Article Written by Tony Muzing '16

If you have never worked with special needs athletes, you are truly missing out. The energy and excitement in the athletes eyes can be seen from miles away as they take in their first breath of the cold and icy United Center air. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Special Olympics MedFest, it is a clearing for special needs athletes (3,500 plus) through various medical tests and physicals. It requires an amazing staff of volunteers who are the well-greased and oiled of the machine called MedFest. 

Recently, 20 Ritamen and Mary Barnes from the Dean's office took on the chance to work hands on with these athletes as they take their first step in competing in the Special Olympics. We all know St. Rita as a diverse community, but meeting the special needs athletes is the real breaking point. We eventually came to realize that we aren't that much different than any of the athletes participating in MedFest. Just like any other south side high schooler, they enjoy watching the Blackhawks, pick up games of football, and weekend camaraderie with friends from other schools. 

This experience is something worthwhile, something that you don't seem to encounter everyday. It is a humbling experience to encounter people who may not have the same physical and mental abilities that most of us are gifted with. Unfortunately, it is common and easy to think of people with special needs as a whole different type of people. But, they are just people, like me and you.

Ritamen who volunteered for Special Olympics Illinois:

Allen, Darius

Cahill, Connor

Conroy, Jim

Conroy, Pete

Cox, Louis

Cross, Melvin

DeCesare, Gary

DeCesare, TJ

Garcia, Benny

Glynn, Dan

Lawler, Dan

Munzing, Anthony

Phipps, Theo

Rojas, Orlando

Ruano, David

Simmons, Cinque

Soriano, Marco

Wilson, Karl