As many as 500 volunteers took part in the Special Russia Invitational Games in Kazan. Each of them has gone through a serious selection that required volunteering experience and skills, as well as the desire to become a part of a bigger project meant to help those who need it so much.
Yuliya Sharipova has been participating as a volunteer in organizing mass races for over 7 years. In sports, she is guided by a constant movement, and in volunteer work – by meeting interesting people, learning something new, and the opportunity to help others. Yuliya considered work at the Invitational Games as an extension of her experience. The project helped her in this and also gave her the opportunity to have a look at the world and at herself at a new angle.
“I was busy at Burevestnik, and my duties included meeting the athletes in the start area, accompanying them to the starting line, helping to put off their outerwear, meeting them at the finish line, helping to get dressed, and accompanying to the coach. The sociability of the guys was a revelation for me – through those 100 meters up to the start that we passed together, we had good time to know each other, to learn something about each other. I was rooting for those who moved forward. We made friends with the guys from the teams of the Sverdlovsk, Kostroma Oblasts, Saint Petersburg, and Tatarstan,” Yulia is happy to tell us. “What astonished me most is that in three days the athletes had a +2 to -20 temperature jump. Nobody was ready for this. The guys did not have the opportunity to warm up for a long time, change clothes, and so on. They ran the distance, and soon a new start began but none of them backed down. We, ordinary people, are afraid of difficulties, and these guys are absolutely not afraid of anything. Their bravery and readiness to perform under any conditions lead to sincere admiration. I am still impressed.
Yuliya is planning to continue volunteering within the framework of the Special Olympics movement, gain enough experience, show herself, and join the team of volunteers of the Special Olympics World Winter Games Kazan 2022. At the Invitational Games, the girl got finally convinced that it was necessary to strive for this goal.
Amina Gumerova is studying for a teacher of adaptive physical education at the Volga State Academy of Physical Culture, Sport and Tourism in Kazan. The girl was engaged in skiing for several years, for about three years she has been participating in volunteer projects, including those connected with helping the elderly. The Invitational Games got to be an opportunity for Amina to combine all these skills and to work as efficiently as possible at the Sviyaga Hills Ski Complex as a venue volunteer, accompanying the athlete to the start and meeting him or her at the finish line.
“The weather was a challenge for both athletes and volunteers. It is very windy at Sviyaga but we all felt our responsibility, and this helped to work in good faith. It was very nice to see the athletes’ reaction to their performances. One of the guys came first, and approached each volunteer and judge, sincerely shared his emotions. We rejoiced together with him,” Amina shares her impressions. “Almost all athletes were very positive and sociable. It is believed that it is not easy to communicate with people with intellectual disabilities but in fact it can be learned and it will be useful for everyone. Abundance of positive emotions that we all experienced at the Invitational Games prove this right.
Taliya Sadykova first came to volunteering at the age of 15, and right away to a large-scale event – Summer Universiade Kazan 2013. Since then, the girl has been trying to participate in various projects: she likes being one of those who are selflessly ready to be a part of something bigger, to live a worthy life filled with emotions.
“When you participate in something special, then you become special yourself. At these Invitational Games, my old dream has come true: I got an attaché position, a person who helps the guests, answers all their questions, does everything to make the stay away from homeland as comfortable as possible. I was assigned to a delegation from Kostroma. I am a very big patriot and really love my hometown, my native Tatarstan, but when you are an attaché, you give your heart to the delegates. Therefore, I was greatly cheering up for the Kostroma team, which I accompanied. We made very good friends. On the day of their departure, I did not want to say goodbye. The delegation made me a very nice keepsake that was so pleasant and unexpected,” Taliya shares her feelings. “There was another moving situation: one day, while I was waiting for my delegates, a friendly athlete from Novosibirsk came up to me. We got to talking, and saying goodbye, he called me his best friend. On the last day at the skiers’ awards ceremony, he was officially handed a magenta ribbon for the 4th place. He was delighted to take it, was very proud, with a big smile on his face he showed it to his friends and coaches, and then came up to me ... and presented it to me. To say that I was speechless is to say nothing.
Taliya was most impressed by the courage and bravery of the athletes. She really likes the motto: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
“In one of the snowshoeing races, I looked at a boy who was very tired. He stopped every few meters to catch his breath. All the other athletes overtook him long ago, but he did not give up, boldly and with dignity went to the end. I think he is much stronger than all of us. Optimism and will to live are something we can all learn from these people,” Taliya says.
“The most important thing that helped me to understand the Invitational Games – I really love children and people in general. I think it was during these few days that I finally got determined about my future profession. In two years I will become a pediatrician and work with such wonderful children.”