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On My Mind: Police officer and Special Olympics volunteer Ryan Giles

Ryan Giles

“You will never see more teamwork and positive sportsmanship than at a Special Olympics event.”

Ryan Giles

Lenexa police officer, Special Olympics volunteer

While the world turns its attention to the Summer Olympics in London, Ryan Giles, 30, is working on behalf of Special Olympians at home. Giles, who lives in Olathe with his wife Rebecca, is organizing Spike Fest, a co-ed sand volleyball tournament to raise money for Special Olympics Kansas. The tourney will be Aug. 11 at Volleyball Beach, 13105 Holmes Road in South Kansas City. Giles needs big-hearted people who don’t mind getting a little sweaty in the sand. Visit ksso.org for more details.

Special to Ink

“I grew up in De Soto … and graduated from the Johnson County Regional Police Academy in 2005. I have since gone back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Washburn University. It was definitely a change for my loved ones. No one in the family has ever chosen this line of work.”

“I was hired at the Lenexa police department about six years ago with my good friend, Shannon Murphy. Shannon was very involved with the Special Olympics and had quite the workload coordinating events for the department. I wanted to do my part to help. … She was more than happy to have the help.”

“The first year we had a golf tournament, and while it was successful, it was very taxing. … The thought just came to me one day of a volleyball tournament. I got in touch with Howard Barewin, the manager at Volleyball Beach, and we got it set up. Howard has been a huge help and has made these tournaments as simple as possible.”

“I’ve been playing sand volleyball for about four years now. We don’t get too competitive, mostly playing in recreational leagues. Outside of volleyball, I play golf. (Based on my typical scores, I can hardly call myself a golfer!)”

“Special Olympic athletes are no different than you or I. If anything, I think they are much stronger than almost anyone. They put more heart and effort into the events they compete in than any professional athlete I have ever seen.”

“In 2008 I helped with the Kansas Law Enforcement Torch Run. At the beginning a young Special Olympics athlete, Katie Cosgrove, was at the front of a pack of local police officers. She was proudly carrying the torch with the biggest smile on her face. That image has always stuck with me.”

“The biggest common trait (between the Summer Olympians and Special Olympians) is that they are all competing with heart. There are no big contracts, paychecks or any other outside influences that drive them to be there. They are there just to compete. They do it for their families, states, countries. Most importantly, they do it for themselves and for each other.”

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