Vinnie Picarelli: The Volunteer Spirit

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Published: April 20, 2014 @ 7:58 AM EDT
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Sitting in a chair at the Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth a couple of weeks ago, 18-year-old Vinnie Picarelli was starting to get inspired. Not about golf, but about what he was hearing. He was at an information session about the 2014 New Jersey Special Olympic Games and they were asking for volunteers and just heard a Special Olympics athlete talked about how important volunteers are to the organization and how much those volunteers are appreciated. Having always dreamed of being a police officer and currently a volunteer firefighter at the Faitoute Hose Company in town, helping out was just in Vinnie’s nature and this was just another way to show it.

“I was inspired to get involved with it and help out in any way possible,” Vinnie said about that meeting, “So I took it upon myself to collect donations from whomever I could and become a volunteer for the games.”

Although Vinnie will not be available to take part this year in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run that goes throughout the state and passes through Roselle Park, the Criminal Justice undergrad will make it his goal to do that next year. This year he is helping out by collecting donations for the Special Olympics and is making himself available, in whatever capacity, to help out with the organization.

Talking about the Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) who run the program, Vinnie has nothing but admiration for their work, “They’re a great bunch of men and women and it just makes me want to work that much more on my studies and my dream.”

Vinnie plans to transfer to another college next year to continue his Major.

Another inspiration was his girlfriend who, herself, is studying in the area of Special Education. But the biggest inspiration are the Games themselves, which showcase the talents and abilities of over 3,500 athletes who will compete in 16 Olympic-style team and individual sports. All of it is done with the cheers of an estimated 70,000 spectators and support of 1,000 coaches as well as 10,000 volunteers; of which Vinnie is now one.

The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games celebrates the Special Olympics movement, promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport, and showcase athletes from throughout the U.S. and the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

Vinnie has set a goal for himself to collect as close to $1,000 as possible by May 30th, the date of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Anyone interested in making a donation can contact Vinnie at (908) 721-2376. Anyone interested in getting involved with the 2014 Special Olympics can visit their web site (link).

Vinnie takes from that and uses it as a personal motto, saying, “Don’t let anything stand in your way. If you want to get something done, it can be done – you just have to have the right mind frame and persistence; and with this organization I do.”

Vinnie Picarelli