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February 03, 2018
A team of volunteers from Turner’s office in Boston recently gathered to host and coordinate one of their most rewarding annual outreach efforts: a Special Olympics Community Games Basketball Tournament for 8-15 year olds.
Led by Dustin Worthington, estimating engineer, Justin Kollmann, logistics engineer and Alison Stanton, regional director of Community and Citizenship, more than 25 Turner employees participated, bringing along another 25 family members and friends. Together, they helped set up the gym, ran drills and stretched with the athletes before the games, refereed and kept score throughout the day, and of course, cheered. “A tournament like this is one of the only ways that these teams get to play real games prior to their regional qualifier each year,” said Alison. “They practice regularly but don’t get to play in front of cheering fans, which makes for an incredibly high-energy, upbeat atmosphere. Players love hearing their names announced for the crowd at the start, and they run over to hi-five us and celebrate on the sidelines when they score.”
“This was the fifth year we’ve hosted and coordinated this event, and it always happens that the Turner staff comes to volunteer and ends up completely immersed in the games and invested in the players,” said Justin. “A great thing about having been involved over time is that for the most part, the athletes come back each year until they turn 16, so we get to see them grow over multiple years. And we’ve formed some close relationships with some of the coaches as well.” He continued, describing how Turner fell in with the Special Olympics almost by chance.
“Like so many Turner connections, we made this one because we were doing a job right across the street from the Special Olympics of Massachusetts facility in Marlboro,” said Dustin. “We needed extra parking for our subs who were working weekends, and asked if we could rent their parking lot. They said yes but wouldn’t accept payment! Soon, Alison and a few others on our team approached to see if there was another way to thank them for their generosity.” He added that at first, the Special Olympics staff simply invited Turner to come and cheer, but the Turner volunteers—some of whom had volunteered with the Special Olympics in college or outside of work—wanted to do more. And so they began hosting their own events.
“One thing I saw this year that was unique was one team did not have enough players for a full side, so one of the other coaches offered for some of his players to join them,” said Dustin. “The athletes that swapped teams were still completely focused on teamwork and the competition between their real team and their temporary team. It was a very impressive display of sportsmanship, and it shows how much they’re playing for love of the game, not just for their record.”
According to Alison, the Turner group has plans to run the event every winter for the foreseeable future.