By Katrina Seeley, Staff Writer

Chris Roberts helps with decorating for the athletes (Photo courtesy of Katrina Seeley)

Chris Roberts helps with decorating for the athletes (Photo courtesy of Katrina Seeley)

Student athletes from the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) put forward their time to give back to the community by volunteering at the 2014 Winter Games Special Olympics.

On January 27th, 12 athletes took a trip to Sugar Loaf to help with decorating the dance hall and serving the Olympians and their mentors dinner. Many student athletes had never experienced volunteering for the Special Olympics before and are already looking forward to their next chance.

Beth Lebel, a senior, had volunteered for the Special Olympics before and enjoyed every minute of it. Lebel said, “I like volunteering because it is something you can do for someone other than yourself.” Lebel also mentioned seeing how thankful participants were, was a reminder that the little things matter.

Mara Balboni, a sophomore, did not know what to expect when she first arrived at Sugar Loaf. This was Balboni’s her first time attending, yet she is already looking forward to helping out again. “It was a fun experience,” Balboni said. “I got to go with a bunch of my other friends and help others.”

When the athletes arrived they were asked to decorate the dance hall. Following decorating, the Olympians poured into the hall waiting for dinner to be served. The student athletes handed out KFC bowls to each Olympian and mentor. They all ended their dinner with a chocolate cake followed by a light show outside.

UMF athletes are always given many chances throughout the school year to volunteer weather it is with their team or a mix of athletes. “It is important for UMF athletics to get involved with community work. We are all very well rounded so it something else we can do,” said Lebel speaking about volunteering.

In the dance hall the Olympians and mentors were excited about their food but the mentors were most thankful for the student athletes helping out.

“I felt really good. A lot of the participants there were really excited when we were serving them food, the energy was high and it was just a fun experience” Balboni said, speaking about how thankful the mentors were about the athletes volunteering.

All the student athletes that attended volunteered their time out of the day to help out. “Not enough people volunteer their time. They are focused on what will look good on their resume instead of what they should be doing for the better of other people,” Lebel said speaking about what she took away from this event.

The UMF athletes have another chance in the spring to give back to the community when the 2014 Spring Special Olympic Games takes place. Many of the athletes that helped out with the winter games are already looking forward to volunteering in the spring.