Special Olympics Michigan volleyball coach Connie Shelton.
Teamwork makes the dream work. Volunteers and coaches for Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI) is the oil in the machine for making the dream work. Connie Shelton a volleyball coach with Area 20 (Washtenaw County) has been involved with SOMI for more than 30 years. Over time, Connie has seen the State Summer Games blossom into the spectacle it is today.
"The whole event has become larger, events are coordinated well with lots of variety," said Connie.
The Ypsilanti resident has seen firsthand how the State Summer Games have a way to change a person's outlook on life.
The SOMI coach sees her athletes gain life skills that follow them past the fun-filled weekend. Leaving an impression on them that they are capable of doing anything they put their mind to.
Connie, a retired schoolteacher at Ypsilanti Area Public Schools, implemented lessons learned from SOMI into her curriculum. This helps make students with intellectual disabilities feel more included in the classroom. "SOMI educates the general public, through socialization, we all have wonderful gifts," said Connie.
Before Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools came to be, Connie sometimes brought students from her classroom along to events. She recalls one particular student and the impact the State Summer Games had on her overall outlook on life.
"She had mascara running down her face, when I asked her what was wrong she said, 'I have complained about so many things in life and I am so blessed. Look at how blessed these athletes are here, they are accepted here.' This event changes people," said Connie.