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Saturday 10 December 2016

Special Olympics: 'It's not like work', say Irish helping out in LA

28 July 2015; Team Ireland's Lorraine Hession, a member of Team South Galway, from Turloughmore, Co. Galway, celebrates with the Lieutenant Governor of Calafornia, Gavin Newsom, after being presented with her 4th place ribbon for her swim in the AQ 100M Freestyle Division F14 event at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
28 July 2015; Team Ireland's Lorraine Hession, a member of Team South Galway, from Turloughmore, Co. Galway, celebrates with the Lieutenant Governor of Calafornia, Gavin Newsom, after being presented with her 4th place ribbon for her swim in the AQ 100M Freestyle Division F14 event at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
28 July 2015; Team Ireland’s James Meenan, 408, a member of St Therese’s Special Olympics Club, from Dundalk Co Louth, races alongside fellow athletes, Jie Zhang, 218, SO China, and Keith Ricketts, 436, on his way to qualifying for the finals of the 100m at the Katherine B. Loker Stadium. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
28 July 2015; Supporters of Team Ireland's Lorraine Hession, from Turloughmore, Co Galway, including her brothers Paul and Joseph, cheer her on as she swims her way to winning a 4th place ribbon in the AQ 100M Freestyle Division F14 event at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
28 July 2015; Team Ireland’s James Meenan, a member of St Therese’s Special Olympics Club, from Dundalk Co Louth, on his way to qualifying for the finals of the 100m at the Katherine B. Loker Stadium. James qualified in a personal best time and looks forward to the finals later in the week. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
28 July 2015; Team Ireland's Lorraine Hession, a member of Team South Galway, from Turloughmore, Co Galway, on her way to winning a 4th place ribbon in the AQ 100M Freestyle Division F14 event at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

THEY are marshalling the stadiums, serving the dinners and even directing the buses.

A small army of volunteers from all over Ireland are helping bring the expertise they gained during the 2003 Special Olympics in Dublin to help ensure the Los Angeles Games run smoothly.

More than 150 signed up to help.

Mary Shiels from Nenagh, Co Tipperary landed one of the bigger jobs as team leader for Spectator Services in the LA Convention Centre - she is in charge of making sure that celebrity guests, families and fans are looked after.

"You forget about the work part of it. It's great fun and it's brilliant mingling with people from all over the world," she said.

Interest

Medical Co-ordinator with Team Ireland, Julie Dwyer from Mallow in Cork, said everyone who helps out gets something back.

"I'm making sure that everybody has got the sunscreen on and drinking plenty of water," she said.

Ms Dwyer admits she has "a vested interest" because her daughter participates in seven Special Olympics sports, but she added: "You never go back from any of these games without having gotten something out of it."

Team Ireland includes participants from both sides of the border, and Brian McGuigan from Dungiven, Co Down says the comradery is everywhere to be seen.

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