HFS provided athletes for the 2018 Special Olympics USA competition comfortable housing, nutritious and tasty food and a warm welcome.
Thursday, July 5, 5:15 a.m.
HFS staff gather at Local Point. By 9 a.m. 1,830 athletes and coaches had been served.
While last week’s Special Olympics competitions were transformative for the athletes, HFS staff who provided services to the athletes, coaches and families were also touched and affected in their interactions. Here are several staff’s experiences.
A roll call's worth of state pins.
Communications Marketing Operations Manager Andy Simonsen:
My experience went way beyond the pins I was given by the athletes: To see these athletes strive to do their best and be thankful for just simply being given the chance to compete. One special experience I will never forget was my dinner shift at The 8. I was doing what I love to do: greet and say good afternoon to everyone entering the dining hall. I happened to meet a girl named Samantha who was so happy to be there. She walked up to me and said, “Good afternoon,” and asked me if I could help her get her meal. She walked me to the salad bar first. I was not really sure what kind of help she needed.
Long story short, she was unable to dish up her food, so I walked through the process and dished up her salad, meal and got her the drink she wanted. The challenge came when she could not find her companion athletes. I was able to keep her calm, and we walked through The 8 until we found them. She said, “Oh thank you!” I think I was more thankful just having that experience.
Dale and Local Point staff received pins from athletes as a way of saying thanks.
General Manager for Local Point Dale Askew:
An athlete was trying to get chocolate milk out of the machine at Local Point. It was empty so nothing was coming out. He’d try, knock on it with his fist to try to shake it loose, and try again. I came up, and said with a smile, “You don’t have to beat on the machine. I’ve tried and it doesn’t help! I’ll get you some more.” I replaced the milk, and he got his glass. After walking away, I hear someone running up to me. The young man had run after me with his glass of milk and hit me with a big hug and a giant smile. Made my whole week, right there. No matter how tired I was, I just thought of that moment. He may not remember it, but I’ll keep it with me forever.
Reconnecting with a former schoolmate. [Photo courtesy of Special Olympics USA Games 2018]
Marketing Specialist Chyenne Bostwick:
During one of my shifts at Local Point, I saw a man with a Pennsylvania shirt on and told him I was from PA as well. He asked me where and I replied with “Sayre.” The gentleman I was speaking to did not know the location, but an athlete behind him proudly told me she was from Sayre, too. We excitedly spoke for a few minutes about our very small high school, took a photo together, and exchanged our UW and Pennsylvania pins. As it turns out, Elizabeth, who went by Lizzie in high school, was just a year younger than me, and I remember seeing her in the halls at school. She was on our high school swim team and always made everyone smile. I could not be more proud to see someone I knew representing my hometown.
The games promoted the ideals of acceptance and inclusion. . . and HFS was a part of an exceptional week.