Volunteer of the Week: Adam Roark, of Dowagiac

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Adam Roark, 20, of Dowagiac, coaches a Special Olympics swim team in Niles. Originally from the Chicago area, Adam moved to Dowagiac with his family recently, and currently attends Western Michigan University. Adam was able to coach his brother, R.J., 25, on the swim team.


What do you do for the Special Olympics?

I am the swim coach for the Niles Special Olympics team. This is my first year coaching the team.

Adam Roark

Adam Roark

The reason I really wanted to get into the Special Olympics is because my brother is one of the Olympic swimmers. He’s really the reason why I wanted to go into special education. I am a special education major at Western Michigan University. I want to be a special education teacher. It’s been a dream and a goal for awhile now.


How did you become involved with the Special Olympics?

I work at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA. I just thought it would be a great place to host a team. I’m one of the lifeguard at the YMCA.


What did coaching entail?

We had 11 athletes on the team. We competed the weekend after Memorial Day weekend. I wish I had the medal count memorized. I want to say we took a total of over 10 gold medals.


Why do you think volunteering in general is important?

It helps the community. It helps to better yourself as a person. You get an understanding of what one person’s ambitions can make on all the people in the community.


What was the best part of working with the Special Olympics?

Just to see the difference that the kids can make and the fun that they have with the whole experience.

There were several different athletes that never got to hang out with friends or have role models, so it was cool to see them be on a team working with other people for the first time. You know, they were excited to be going to all these practices and be able to say, ‘I’m losing weight. I’m getting fit.’

I’m so proud of these athletes who stick together for Saturday 8 a.m. practices for so many months — to be able to make it through all those practices and all the games and keep working hard. It’s great.


Do you know a volunteer worthy of recognition? Nominate him or her as the Volunteer of the Week by calling Craig Haupert, community editor, at (269) 687-7720, or emailing him at craig.haupert@leaderpub.com.