Helsana employees supported the coaches and athlete assistants as part of the Delegation Liaison (DL) team at the Special Olympics National Summer Games. Two of them report on their experiences.
We had wanted for a long time to do voluntary work in the social domain, not least to discover our own skills and limits.
When we signed up as volunteers for the Special Olympics National Games in Geneva around a year ago, we had no idea whatsoever what was in store.
Our role as a Delegation Liaison, or DL for short, was to take care of all organisational matters on behalf of the coaches and athlete assistants, as well as the groups and teams, and provide guidance and support throughout the four-day event. Patience, respect, responsibility, a cool head in crisis situations and active participation are just some of the requirements for a DL.
Now it's for real in the Olympic village
It's finally time. A total of seven Helsana employees arrive in Geneva full of expectation. Our first briefing takes place straight away on the Wednesday evening before the start of our four-day deployment. We are made aware of how to interact with people with intellectual disabilities. The first highlight is the opening ceremony, with the various delegations parading from the Olympic village to the Parc des Bastions. We are accompanied by numerous spectators and family members. We're already getting goose bumps as the speaker calls up the groups and people cheer all around us. During the opening ceremony, the Flame of Hope is lit – the Games are open.
Self-esteem, fitness and courage for all
Founded 50 years ago and recognised by the Olympic Committee 30 years ago, the Special Olympics is the world’s biggest sporting movement for people with learning difficulties or multiple impairments. As a partner of the Special Olympics, we want to help people with intellectual disabilities extend their love of life to the world of sport.
Dancing under the marquee
On the Friday, the divisioning takes place, in which the athletes are divided into groups of similar ability. In the evening we dance with many of the athletes under the big marquee and communicate the key points for the following day to the coaches. Exhausted and satisfied after a long day, we all head to our rooms and fall wearily into bed.
Radiance and tears of joy across the board
The official competitions take place on the Saturday and Sunday. We cheer along, cross our fingers and let ourselves be transported by the enthusiasm of the athletes. The award ceremonies that take place immediately after each competition are especially emotional. In addition to the medal presentations, all participants receive a distinction. The most important thing for the athletes is to be present and do their best. Tears of joy flow freely from winners and losers alike, and we DLs also find ourselves reaching for our tissues on numerous occasions.
Tears and mobile numbers on parting
After the last competitions on the Sunday morning, the afternoon brings the closing ceremony. The departure of the groups brings yet more tears to our eyes, and we have long since set aside any initial concerns about sticky and sweaty embraces and kisses. The open, candid and generous athletes have simply stolen our hearts. Fortunately, we exchange mobile numbers so that we can stay in touch.
Martina Dumoulin, Broker & Partner Advisor
Pascal Känel, Team Leader Hospital Benefits