Rianne Ho started volunteering with the Special Olympics Alberta figure skating program when she was just 13 years old. “It was intimidating at first,” she says. “Some of them were better skaters than me.”
That was 10 years ago.
Today, Ho is 22 and completing her chemical engineering degree at the University of Calgary. She no longer figure-skates but, come graduation, says she’s eager to take on more volunteering with Special Olympics’ figure skating team. Like many volunteers with the organization, she has the bug.
“I definitely want to continue and play a bigger part in the program,” she says. “I enjoy it and that’s why I’m still here.”
Volunteering for a decade has given her perspective and deeper memories, too. She says she’s built deep connections to many of the athletes she works with on the ice.
“I love being able to see them grow. Seeing them over 10 years, I’ve seen them slowly improve with their skills. It’s rewarding to see them and their parents – to see the athletes learning to become more confident. They’re also great friends with each other and the coaches.”
The athletes look to her as a friend and she does to them as well, Ho says. “It’s better. You can just skate around the ice with them, it helps take their mind on the scariness of the ice.”
Special Olympics Alberta is thankful for having committed and positive volunteers like Rianne. Find out how easy it is to be part of a movement of inclusion and sports by checking out our volunteer page!