Volunteer Profile | Sarah’s YBP Journey

Sarah’s journey with Special Olympics Virginia began in early 2016 when her employer, Virginia529, launched the ABLE savings program, ABLEnow. The ABLEnow program empowers people with disabilities to save money for today’s needs or invest for tomorrow in a simple, affordable and tax-advantaged account that won’t impact certain disability benefits. 

To spread the word about the new savings program, ABLEnow partnered with Special Olympics Virginia. As part of her role with the partnership, Sarah had the opportunity to travel to various SOVA events across the state to share information about ABLEnow with athletes and families. 

In 2017, Sarah joined the Special Olympics Virginia Young Professionals Board after learning about the newly launched group from SOVA staff she worked closely with on the sponsorship front. Sarah was excited about the opportunity to learn even more about the organization and become involved on a more personal level than she had been before. 

“I truly enjoyed getting to know other young professionals in RVA who are also passionate about serving the disability community. Through the YPB I was also able to meet more inspiring Special Olympics athletes, volunteer at regional competitions and participate in the RVA Solar Plunge.” –Sarah Pennington

In June of 2018, Sarah happened to run into Chesterfield athlete Paul Marretti at the annual Summer Games at University of Richmond. Sarah first met Paul when he was invited to speak at a YPB quarterly meeting earlier in the year as part of their “Mission Moment” because of his role as a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics Virginia. When crossing paths a second time, Sarah mentioned to Paul that she was participating in a volleyball league through the Richmond Volleyball Club. 

She was thrilled to learn that Paul too is an excellent volleyball player! He shared that the Special Olympics Volleyball season would be starting soon and his Area 6 Chesterfield Volleyball team was in need of volunteer coaches. He encouraged Sarah to join them and even sent a follow-up email to ensure she had all the details. Another bonus for Sarah was that the team practiced at a Chesterfield school just a short drive from Virginia529’s office. 

Sarah noted that when she arrived at the first Volleyball practice she knew no one other than Paul. That quickly changed! Two short months later and Sarah gained a whole new group of awesome Special Olympics friends. 

Sarah felt so fortunate to be able to travel with the team to the Fall Championships in Virginia Beach in the fall of 2018 to serve as Assistant Coach to the Area 6 Cubs, and hopes to continue coaching with the team in years to come! 

“I’ve always considered myself an advocate for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. My involvement with Special Olympics Virginia has been such a meaningful way to can give back, have lots of fun, and encourage athletes in my own community.” –Sarah Pennington

We are so thankful for supporters like Sarah – from her partnership through ABLEnow, membership on the Young Professionals Board, and now service as a Volleyball coach in our local program – her enthusiasm for Special Olympics Virginia goes above & beyond!

To learn more about Young Professionals Board and to see how to get involved, click here.