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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.”
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!