Sept. 26 marks National Pancake Day. For anyone who has worked Special Olympics Southern California’s Summer Games, the pancake means one thing – the volunteer breakfast.
Rich Hardy has been behind the griddle for the last 15 years, serving up several thousands of flapjacks to volunteers. Hardy has provided his services through the Kiwanis Club.
“We’ve been here ever since. It’s great fun, they appreciate it,” he said.
But that’s just one aspect in his 40 years of involvement.
Hardy’s participation can be traced back to his daughter, Stephanie, a Special Olympics Orange County athlete. Stephanie has competed in several sports, highlighted by three gold medals she won for equestrian at the 2003 Special Olympics World Games in Ireland.
When Special Olympics Southern California offered a broader range of winter sports, Rich spent 12 years as a ski coach.
“Special Olympics is our family,” he said.
Rich has watched the organization evolve over the years and noted the increased effort in services around the competitions. From Healthy Athletes to the festival experience, and more, the emphasis has been on “offering more for the athletes.”
“It’s just bigger and better every year,” he added. “There’s so many things they can do between their competitions. It’s just a fantastic experience for all the athletes.”