Our mission—changing the lives of individuals with IDD—would not be possible without the thousands of volunteers who dedicate their time, energy and enthusiasm to helping us serve our athletes!
One such volunteer, Marshal Hagen, continues to make his mark on the hearts of everyone involved in Special Olympics Washington. Since joining our volunteer team in 2018, Marshal has gone above and beyond, filling both his roles as a volunteer photographer and coach for Special Olympics Washington.
In early 2017, Marshal learned that his sister-in-law’s brother was going to be competing in the upcoming 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle—and he spotted an opportunity.
“I remember saying to somebody, ‘they must need photographers, and that would be fun. I’d get better than front row access, so I’m in,” Marshal said.
But his connection to Special Olympics Washington now extends far beyond his role as photographer.
In the middle of the action Marshal Hagen shows his commitment to Special Olympics Washington as a volunteer photographer and coach.
“My oldest daughter, Audrey (who’s also my gaffer), got to hang out with me for a few events in 2018 and wanted to compete so bad. [She] now competes year-round with Special Olympics,” Marshal said.
While Marshal can’t bring himself to choose just one favorite thing about being involved in Special Olympics Washington, he is immensely passionate about three things that our mission is founded on: inclusion, acceptance and friendship.
“A lot of people looked at me as a guy with a bunch of cameras—Special Olympics Washington looked at me as a guy who could help out where he could, learn along the way and take on challenges he wouldn’t have anywhere else,” Marshal said.
Whether Marshal is lugging his camera gear, wearing his coaches cap or walking down the road, he finds a friend in everyone he meets.
“My favorite is when I’m walking anywhere—it doesn’t matter where—and I hear in the background, ‘hey, there’s Coach Marshal!’ or ‘There’s the camera guy!’ But my extra favorite is when an athlete smiles at me and tells me I taught them something today or helped them push themselves to do something they never thought they could do.”
“Man, that’s an athlete” One of Marshal’s favorite moments he captured at the 2018 USA Games. (Photo/Marshal Hagen)
Thank you, Marshal, for the joy, hard work and passion that you bring to Special Olympics Washington! We are so grateful for everything you do!
At just 19 years old, athletics (track and field) runner Kellen Mendez made his mark on the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin.
Mendez, who placed first in his 800-meter event at the 2022 Special Olympics Spring Games in Tacoma, Washington, is passionate about sports and dedicated to giving his all.
But while he is one of just two athletes selected from Washington State to represent the United States of America at this year’s Special Olympics World Games, victory is far from being the only thing on his mind.
Not one to get caught up in the competition, Kellen Mendez is renowned for the unbridled joy, friendliness and good sportsmanship that he brings to his team. The value he places on the journey, not just the destination, is profoundly evident in everything he does—and perfectly illustrated in his habit of waving and smiling at his teammates, coaches and volunteers at every event.
Mendez perfectly embodies the joy, kindness and inclusivity that these games stand for.
Between his enthusiastic support for his teammates, his commitment to serving at his local church and his dedication to Community Access Reaching Everyone (also known as CARE, an organization devoted to providing community resources for individuals with developmental disabilities), Mendez perfectly embodies the joy, kindness and inclusivity that these games stand for.