NAUGATUCK — Being the local coordinator for Naugatuck Special Olympics entails much more than running the program. For Trudy Segla, the volunteer position means that she can be coaching one day, a partner for an athlete the next day and fundraising the day after that — pretty much anything that needs to be done for Naugatuck Special Olympics Segla does.
“It is very rewarding. It sounds like a cliché but an athlete will join our group not knowing anything about the sport and when they compete they ‘Rise to the occasion.’ Also people have the misconception that these athletes can’t really play and be competitive, but if you were to come to an event you would see for yourself,” said Segla, a 51-year-old paraprofessional at Naugatuck High School.
For all that she does, Segla, a Naugatuck resident, will be honored by Special Olympics Connecticut as of the organization’s Unsung Hero Award recipients. The Unsung Hero Award recognizes volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes for Special Olympics Connecticut with no expectation of recognition or reward.
“I am very humbled,” Segla said about the honor. “I could not do this without all the help from the coaches and families.”
Segla first got involved with the Special Olympics 22 years go when her son, Jake, who is an athlete, started.
“Then the previous local coordinator left and they needed someone to replace her,” Segla recalled. “I volunteered thinking that it would just be temporary and I am still here 20 years later still waiting.”
Naugatuck Special Olympics currently has about 60 athletes, ranging in age from 8 to 35, and 50 partners.
“I have a lot of fun and have made some great friendships,” said Segla about why she has stayed involved for more than two decades. “The athletes always give a 100 percent.”
Segla will be recognized at Special Olympics Connecticut’s annual Hall of Fame Dinner March 23. The dinner is at the Aqua Turf Country Club in Plantsville. The cost is $30 per person. For more information, visit www.soct.org.