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Beyond the Boat: UW Rowers Make their Mark at Special Olympics USA Games

By Amy Anderson

Over six days in early July 2018, Seattle hosted the Special Olympics USA Games.  More than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing 50 state programs and the District of Columbia competed in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports. Thousands of volunteers supported the events including members of Washington’s men’s crew team who volunteered at the Stand Up Paddle Board races at Angle Lake in Seatac.

Austin Reiger, ’20, recruited 25 volunteers including several incoming freshmen and local rowers who stayed in town for the summer. The rowers helped with a range of things, including setting up the venue, staging the paddle boards, helping the athletes get ready to start their races, timing and lifeguarding.

“It was really cool to be a part of this,” said Regier. “And it was really cool to see the joy these kids felt. It was very impactful for me to see the athletes compete at such a high level.”

One memory that stands out for Regier is the female athlete who is almost completely blind.  Lifeguards and officials instructed her where to go on the course. “It was really incredible,” Regier said.

“I’m super proud of how our team was able to contribute to the Special Olympians experience in Seattle,” said men’s head coach Michael Callahan. “This is one more way we are teaching our rowers what it means to be of service to the community. And I know they got a lot out of it too!”