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What I Learned as an Intern with Special Olympics Tennessee

Learning a mission that will stay with someone for a lifetime
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Before starting to work with Special Olympics Tennessee in mid-August, I had essentially zero clue about what I was walking into. It helped a little that I had heard about the USA Games that were held down in Orlando, Florida, earlier in the summer, but other than that I didn’t know how extensive Special Olympics was. In fact, hearing about how much of a success the USA Games were is what pushed me to apply for an internship position at Special Olympics Tennessee in the first place. After I read more about what the organization was all about, it became a no-brainer to decide to intern with them.

I ended up covering numerous big events, six in total, along with interviewing and writing stories on a handful of athletes outside of the covered events.

At the first event I covered, a Regional golf tournament in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, I was simply blown away by the sheer amount of positivity that permeated throughout the entire course and the clubhouse.

For one, it made my job of interviewing some of the athletes to write a couple of feature articles a lot easier and much more enjoyable.

For two, it was just so inspiring to see every single athlete consistently uplifting one another. It is almost impossible to describe the feeling other than you just can’t stop smiling. That’s the best way I can put it. It didn’t matter if someone was struggling or hitting all their shots, the constant positivity every athlete had towards each other was amazing to see.

However, this in no way is meant to imply that every athlete that competed wasn’t highly competitive. The competitive drive we love to see from the best athletes in the world like Lebron James and Lionel Messi was more than prevalent inside the athletes that day in Murfreesboro.

Fortunately, I have been able to learn a lot about not just the athletes, but also more about Special Olympics itself. I’ll start with the athletes though, and the biggest thing that stood out to me is how big of a smile would be on their faces when I asked them if they wanted to take 5-10 minutes to answer a few questions for a story about them.

Part of this is because what athlete in the world wouldn’t be excited about being interviewed by media personnel? The other more important fact is that there needs to be more media coverage of most of these events. Being able to contribute to the progression of getting more media coverage for Special Olympics was something that was not lost on me, and I am humbled to have been able to help in that regard.

Finally, I was able to form some awesome connections with some of the athletes I was able to interview. They were all amazing people and brought a smile to my face every time I could cover an event. Special Olympics deserves better media coverage than they even have right now, and it really is something that I hope improves soon because I guarantee that any media outlet that covered an event would be able to see just how great these athletes are in terms of not just their lively character, but also their great skill.

As it pertains to the organization itself, I learned more about how they offer competitive environments for all their athletes, and just how much fun these athletes have competing at each event. Special Olympics really deserves all your support as it continues to grow day by day, and it was truly an honor to intern with such an incredible organization with even better people.

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