An Exemplary Leader
>>Special Olympics USA National Games
Alumni Days 2006
The reigning queen of concrete
AND THE AWARD GOES TO...
Lana Voga’s voice lowers to a reverential whisper when she talks about the Special Olympics USA National Games athletes and volunteers.
“Oh my gosh, our volunteers are just the greatest,” Voga said a few days after the end of the first-ever Games, held July 2-7 in Ames. “I don’t have enough praise for what they did last week, for what they provided to the athletes. For me, it always comes back to the athletes. Always. That’s what it’s about.”
Voga, a customer relations specialist for ISU’s printing services, served as the National Games’ awards commissioner. She started each day of the games at 5 a.m. with a quick run to her office before heading off to awards headquarters at a local church by 7 a.m. to meet with the distribution team and venue managers. Then she’d dash from awards site to awards site all day long before going back to the church late each night to see how things were going there.
Some days there were eight or nine awards ceremonies going on at the same time. In all, more than 6,600 medals and ribbons were given to athletes at the National Games.
It was a lot of work, Voga admits, but “it was all worth it. The end result, seeing those athletes leaving with those medals or ribbons – they were HAPPY.”
Lana has been involved with Special Olympics Iowa since the early ’80s when she was recruited for a half-day volunteer shift. That’s all it took, and she was hooked. She’s been doing it ever since, serving as Iowa’s summer games chair for many years and more recently as chair of the state board of directors.
Voga is passionate about her experiences with Special Olympics Iowa and she’s understandably proud of what was accomplished during the first-ever National Games.
“This past week, attitudes were changed,” she said. “Lives were changed. And eyes were opened. What did Ames and these athletes together accomplish? Wow. They made history.”
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About the Writer | Carole Gieseke is the editor of VISIONS magazine.