We were thrilled to recently welcome athlete leaders Megan Galarowicz and Edward Kastern to our staff as our inaugural Unified Leadership Specialists.
Galarowicz, of Menomonie Red Cedar Special Olympics, and Kastern, of Oshkosh Special Olympics, were selected for these new positions due to their longstanding commitment to athlete leadership and the hard work they’ve done over the years to support leadership efforts with Special Olympics Wisconsin.
The part-time positions funded through a grant from Coca-Cola have enabled Galarowicz and Kastern to help lead the Unified Leadership Task Force and develop new curricula for leadership workshops, including Intro to Athlete Leadership and Understanding Leadership. As Unified Leadership Specialists, the pair have also acted as trainers/instructors for these workshops in a variety of venues, where they hope to train 50 new athlete leaders in leadership courses.
In addition to training new athlete leaders, the Unified Leadership Specialists are also tasked with training 25 people who are not currently affiliated with SOWI in the concept of Unified Leadership.
Both Galarowicz and Kastern have risen to the occasion and thrived in their new roles… roles both jumped at when presented with the opportunity.
“It’s kind of like my dream job in a way. I’ve spent 33 years as an athlete. To be able to give back, it warms my heart,” Kastern said.
While the work is challenging, thankfully it’s not so challenging that Kastern isn’t able to continue to film his award-winning cable access show, Making It Happen.
Galarowicz was able to reduce her hours at Walgreens so she could focus more on unified leadership, something that she cares about deeply. “I’ve always been interested in leadership and my passion for leadership and the leadership opportunities in SOWI have helped me grow,” Galarowicz said. Her work as a SOWI intern also helped prepare her for the rigors of working as a paid member of the staff.
Even though it’s only been a couple months, their experiences so far have also helped to stoke some ambitious career goals for the two.
Galarowicz, who just graduated from UW-Stout in May 2020, hopes to parlay this experience into a full-time position doing non-profit event planning. The position has helped her to fully realize her interest in that aspect of the non-profit sector, as she has also helped to organize events like the Northern District Swim Meet in June.
Kastern hopes to continue to grow in his leadership in the organization and is hopeful this is the start to a career working for SOWI, an organization that he feels has helped him in so many ways.
“In school I never felt challenged. But now with Special Olympics I’m able to feel that challenge,” Kastern said. “I’ve grown so much from Special Olympics because it gave me the confidence to go to college and do other things. It’s helped me out a great deal.”
Whatever the future holds for these two driven and talented leaders, they’re excited to be part of the first wave of unified leadership staff at Special Olympics Wisconsin. “It feels like it is really athlete driven, which is huge because you really don’t get that in the ID community,” Galarowicz said.