Volunteers drive the Special Olympics movement here in Alberta and with Harold Cornish at the helm, the future is bright for athletes in Leduc.
Harold moved from Edmonton to Collingwood, Ont. in 2007 and quickly got involved with the Games Organizing Committee for the Ontario Winter Games in 2008.
After a great experience, Harold shifted his volunteer efforts to Special Olympics and quickly assumed the role of Community Coordinator for Special Olympics Ontario-Collingwood and Area in 2009.
“Volunteerism has been a part of my life since 1978, and as a graduate of Leadership Edmonton, I felt it was important to get involved in my new community,” said Harold.
Like many of the amazing volunteers at Special Olympics, Harold dove into multiple roles assuming a Head Coach position for both basketball and softball, as well as Team Manager – Zone & District.
In 2014, Harold was the Head Coach at Nationals for his basketball team and in 2016 he would act as the Ontario Provincial Team Manager.
“My fondest memories are around the connections that I made with the athletes, the progress that they made throughout the years, the jokes and pranks (from both sides), and their involvement in various competitions,” said Harold.
Harold returned to Alberta in 2016, and after a brief hiatus from volunteering with the organization to pursue other coaching opportunities, he has taken the reins as the Chairperson of the Leduc affiliate.
Much like the city itself, the Leduc affiliate is a welcoming, growing group looking to reinvigorate programs when athletes are safe to return to play.
The athletes that participate in Special Olympics are provided the opportunity to get exercise, positive interaction between their peers and coaches, a sense of accomplishment, and the opportunity to make new friends locally and abroad. It also provides an opportunity for individuals and groups to volunteer their services, and this interaction often opens their eyes to the abilities (and possibilities) of the athletes – both on the field and in the community at large. – Harold Cornish
Looking ahead, Harold has many goals for the affiliate including bringing in volunteers to fill vacant committee positions, getting coaches trained, and reconnecting with its members, while reaching new ones too.
“I’d like to see us in a position to offer at least three strong and well-organized programs this year that would build the confidence of all involved and serve as a catalyst to gain support to build on that success in 2022,” said Harold. “I want to build a program that would enable our athletes to compete for spots in future major competitions.”
His wealth of experience and knowledge will be vital in achieving these goals, but he also hopes to continue to learn himself, improve his coaching and management skills, and look to participate in Provincials, Nationals, and even Worlds, if the opportunity presents itself.
He encourages interested volunteers to sign up and to be willing to share their enthusiasm, time, and skills, with opportunities for experienced or inexperienced volunteers to contribute.
“I have enjoyed myself thoroughly [with Special Olympics],” said Harold. “My biggest regret is that I wished I had volunteered when I was younger and starting out on my career That said, better late than never!”
April 18-24 marks National Volunteer Week, and this year we want to emphasize how important our volunteers are to us by spotlighting them throughout the month. Profiles will be released Tuesdays and Thursdays to recognize people who continue to make an impact in the lives of our athletes.
If you’re interested in volunteering, click here to begin your journey with Special Olympics Alberta!