Volunteer Spotlight – Zach Ford

The sheer fun of flying frisbees, Luau parties, and talent shows drew Zach into volunteering, but friendships like these are what keeps him coming back.

In your own words, what is your role(s) with the All-Stars?
My role is to provide safe and fun environments for our All-Stars. I’m the safety team lead for our in-person events and one of the coordinators for our virtual events. The safety team makes sure we have medical staff on site at all of our events as well as non-medical staff to guard doors, help with check-in/check-out, etc. We’re always looking for more volunteers to help in these areas.

As a volunteer, why did you feel the need to step up during the pandemic to take on a greater role with the All-Stars Club?
As the pandemic went on, we all started to feel lonelier and more disconnected. I knew our All-Stars would feel this way times 10! In-person, All-Stars Club are one of the only times that our All-Stars get to socialize and interact with their friends and make new friends. I wanted to make sure we stayed connected and provided similar opportunities though the pandemic so I started volunteering with our Virtual All-Stars Clubs.

What impact did you see the virtual events make during the pandemic?
There were some incredible impacts that came from the virtual events. First off, we got to bring smiles, singing, and dancing into the homes of our All-Stars. As you volunteer more with All-Stars Club you build friendships with All-Stars and volunteers so just getting to see a familiar face brightened everyone’s day. Second, we got to meet new people from all over the country! We engaged volunteers and All-Stars in Hawaii for a Luau Dance Party. We have a new All-Star from Michigan that shares her talents and life updates every month on Zoom. And we have some new Colorado All-Stars that started virtually with us and now make it to in person events. It was great getting to see our All-Stars club grow. The coolest impact I saw was watching our new All-Stars come out of their shells. Two or three All-Stars started coming to Zoom calls to just watch and cheer others on. Now those All-Stars are sharing what cool things they’ve done recently and belting their favorite songs for everyone to hear. Our virtual events really paved the way for connection and growth over the pandemic.

What has been the best thing about getting back to our in-person events?
As much fun as the virtual events are, getting back in person has been a blast. Hands down the best thing about getting back to in person events has been the chaos of the gym! I end up spending a lot of time in the gym at our events so getting to watch frisbees flying, All-Stars running with their buddy, and the big beach ball flying over the net has been a joy.

What would you say to someone considering volunteering with the All-Stars Club?
Take the leap and come to one event! I know there are hesitations of, “I don’t know how to help people with special needs,” “What if I don’t know what to say,” or “I don’t know anyone else at All-Stars.” These are all very valid thoughts, but after that first event you’ll be asking about the next event! You realize it’s not about you and it’s all about making a new friend and having fun with the All-Stars group.

What impact would you tell a monthly donor that he or she is making on our All-Stars right now?
All of our events are impossible without volunteers and donations. As I write this, we have a Zoom event happening in 4 hours that would not be possible without your donations. On that call we have All-Stars who have been practicing their talent all week and are so excited to perform. Your donation gives our All-Stars that moment to shine.