SOWI Celebrates Volunteer Appreciation Week

April 18, 2022 Events, Featured

The National Volunteer Week theme for 2022, “Volunteering Is Empathy In Action,” affirms the strong connection between volunteerism and empathy. This profoundly human connection is at the heart of healthier individuals and stronger communities.

Volunteers play an incredibly vital role in all that Special Olympics Wisconsin does. To celebrate National Volunteer Week, SOWI will feature six individuals representing different areas all integral to the collective mission and vision of spreading inclusion through Empathy in Action.


First, we introduce Kevin Szydel representing our Coaching volunteers.

Kevin coaches with agency 8-02 North Suburban and will be representing Team Wisconsin at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games this June as Bocce Assistant Coach.

“Kevin takes the time to get to know each athlete,” SOWI Senior Director of Sports Jason Blank said. “He cares about them as a competitor and as a person. He is detailed and knowledgeable and strives to have his athletes grow and be accountable. His passion for the athletes and sports shines through in every sport season. He’s had an impact locally and across the state. And most importantly, the athletes love him!”

Learn more about how you can become a volunteer coach today!


Second, we introduce Dan Gasser representing our Unified Champion Schools volunteers.

Dan is a Special Olympics Coach and Reedsburg High School ID/Special Education Teacher, where he has been for 22 years.

“I have witnessed firsthand the impact Dan has had on others,” SOWI Unified Champion Schools Manager Princess Brinkley said. “He goes above and beyond to provide opportunities for his students with ID. In doing so, he takes the time to create fun and safe spaces that produce life-long relationships.”

Learn more about how you can volunteer and become a Unified Champion School today!


Third, we introduce Monica Meadows representing our Program Manager volunteers.

Following a long tenure at Chippewa Falls High School, Monica is a Special Design Physical Education Instructor in the Thorp School District and a 35-year member of the Wisconsin Special Olympics Indianhead Area Management Team.

“Monica has been a valuable member of Region 3 for many years now,” SOWI Region 2/3 Athletic Director Michaela Harrison said. “She started as a GMT member for Track and Basketball skills where saw the need for a youth program in Stanley-Boyd/Cadott and decided to start a local program right in the middle of COVID! She is now a coach for them and still serves on the Region 3 GMT. Monica is great with the athletes and is awesome at getting volunteers for the events.”

Learn more about how you can volunteer as a Program Manager today!


Fourth, we introduce Amy Yonker representing our Healthy Athletes Volunteers.

Amy is a Supported Employment Supervisor at Chrysalis, an organization that promotes work opportunities that encourage hope, healing, and wellness and envisions a community where everyone belongs–a community that is free from stigma, rooted in racial and social justice. Amy is also Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Strong Minds Clinical Director.

“Amy has been involved with SOWI for many years, first as an intern, then GMT, and now as a Clinical Director,” SOWI Director of Health Programs Brittany Hoegh said. “She is so passionate about emotional wellness, and it shows in how she teaches the athletes at Strong Minds events and virtual zoom calls we have had over the past couple years. She’s going one step further and joining Team Wisconsin at USA Games to help them go through Healthy Athletes.”

Learn more about how you can volunteer at our Healthy Athletes events today!


Fifth, we introduce Chris Tarmann representing our Law Enforcement Volunteers.

Chris is Captain of the UW-Oshkosh Police Department and has been volunteering with Special Olympics Wisconsin for more than 10 years. Captain Tarmann will also represent Team Wisconsin at the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) Final Leg at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando this June.

“Captain Tarmann was one of the first people I met when I started with SOWI in 2019,” Senior Director of Development Sarah Draper said. “He was very welcoming and provided the insight I needed to work with law enforcement. Whenever I need inspiration or help with a competition or fundraising event, he is there or will help find a way. He is one of the most positive people I have ever met and he loves helping athletes!”

Learn more about how you can volunteer with our LETR events today!


Last, but certainly not least, we introduce David Bigelow representing our Event Volunteers.

For 15 years, “Biggie” has worked with Green Valley Enterprises, whose mission is to help individuals with special needs, and their families, achieve maximum potential and independence through an array of services. He has also lent his services to Special Olympics Wisconsin in various capacities at numerous events.

“Biggie has been volunteering with Special Olympics Wisconsin for more than 40 years,” Region 6 Athletic Director Nicole Christensen said. “He can be spotted at almost every Region 6 and State tournament throughout the year. He can succeed in any tournament role, provides leadership for other event day volunteers, and creates friendships that last a lifetime.”

Learn more about how you can volunteer at our SOWI events today!


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