Advanced search

These Olympians are special

“We are living out other people’s dreams."



April 12, 2024

On a cloudy, overcast morning, in the shadow of the world’s largest bronze Scotsman, two rows of Presbyterian College students flanked the sidewalk inside the gates of Bailey Memorial Stadium.

Cheers rang out and high fives were shared as Special Olympians representing Laurens, Abbeville, Greenwood, Newberry, and McCormick counties came to campus on April 10 for the 2024 Area 5 Special Olympics. It was a rousing and warm greeting that belied the damp and set the tone for the college’s heart for service.

Lyle Jones, a sophomore from Mauldin who co-coordinated this year’s games as a member of Student Volunteer Services, said Special Olympics manifests PC’s motto, “While We Live, We Serve.”

“I think this is the best example PC has to offer in terms of living out our motto,” he said. “Everything we do here today is tailored to making this event one of the best days in the athletes’ lives.”

Of course, Special Olympics is also a great day for PC student volunteers.

Ruben Rodriguez is an international student from Venezuela studying political science. For him, volunteering at the Special Olympics is an opportunity for him to interact with his new community – his fellow college students and the community at large.  For Xupheng Ly, a freshman from Lancaster, Special Olympics offers a simple intrinsic reward.

“I like helping out others and it brings me joy knowing that helping others achieve and have fun brings happiness to the world,” he said.

Similarly, Cecelia Perez Santiago, a junior from Clinton, said Special Olympics brings the community together.

“I volunteered again this year because I did it last year and loved it,” she said. “I wasn’t able to stay that long last because of my class schedule but this year my schedule allowed me to stay longer. I just love the atmosphere here. It just makes me so happy.”

This year’s Area 5 Special Olympics is the second for Jack and Jane Presseau Associate Chaplain, the Rev. British Hyrams. Even through the lens of relative inexperience, the history of PC’s SVS and its ties to the Special Olympics are not lost on her.

“There is a long history of this event,” she said. “We are living out other people’s dreams. Someone started this event and it’s continued for years and we are living it out today. So, while we are living it, we continue to serve as the embodiment of ‘While We Live, We Serve.’”

Hyrams said volunteering for events like Special Olympics is also part of the transformational education PC provides for its students.

“Volunteering is something I think these young people are beginning to experience and participate in and may not see it’s full value until they leave this place,” she said. “When they realize that something like the Special Olympics continues long after they’re gone, they may see their community service in a different way.”