1. News
  2. Special Olympics’ emotional power inspires Toyota volunteers

Special Olympics’ emotional power inspires Toyota volunteers

Why inclusive sport matters in the voice of Toyota volunteers who supported the World Games Berlin
We were not only the official mobility partner providing various attractions on the site. Many Toyota employees worked behind the scenes sharing the athletes’ passion and dreams during the world’s largest inclusive sporting event as well as in its run-up. 

Going extra mile to be with the athletes

About 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 170 countries competed in 26 sports during the 2023 Special Olympics World Games Berlin. This inclusive sporting event that touches many people around the globe cannot take place without volunteers. In addition to playing the official roles as Special Olympics’ partner, Toyota in Germany had 35 employees* working as volunteers to support the athletes and the event.   
“It was absolutely amazing. The athletes were doing their utmost to fight with acceptance and joy. They were positive even if they didn’t achieve their goals. I was impressed by this mindset. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this.”
Stefanie, Toyota Germany
“Despite the competitive nature of the event, I could only see and feel joy everywhere. The athletes and their coaches were sharing solidary and happiness, and this was spreading to everyone – us volunteers and spectators. It felt like all the people attending the games were forming one team. We need to do this in our society.”
Martina Sanner, Toyota Financial Services Germany
“It was great to see how every athlete was cheered on by everyone. No one was left behind. It gave me goosebumps!”
Veronika, Toyota Germany
“Being part of this was absolutely an enriching experience for me. I got a hands-on insight into the world of people with intellectual disabilities. I felt a great cohesion, cordiality and an enormous joie de vivre among the athletes. We can learn from this.”
Katrin, Toyota Germany

Unbeatable companionship

Sure, the Special Olympics World Games are about victories, emotions and the pride of being part of the world’s biggest inclusive sports event. But for Silke Huber, employee of Toyota Motor Europe who worked as one of volunteers for the swimming competitions, it was above all about the sense of togetherness. 
“I had a wonderful time working in my team of volunteers who were all different in nationalities, ages and backgrounds. Everyone was always so supportive and cheerful - we were truly #UnbeatableTogether. My entire experience was filled with everyone’s positive energy and companionship. Simply heart-warming”
Silke Huber, Toyota Motor Europe
“The most impressive moment for me came during the quarterfinals of women’s 100-metre freestyle. One of the competitors stopped after 50 metres believing that she had completed the race. The other athlete had already finished 100 metres, but swam back to her opponent and accompanied her for the remaining 50 metres. Huge cheers and standing ovations followed this demonstration of companionship and fairness.”
Silke Huber, Toyota Motor Europe

Accompanying athletes on their road to Berlin

In Italy, Toyota supported athletes preparing to leave for Berlin. 20 employees of Toyota group companies packed more than 150 travel kits for the entire Italian delegation. For 5 athletes based in Turin who were supported by Toyota joining Special Olympics’ "Adopt a Champion®" programme, a retailer Toyota  Central Motors di Torino held a send-off celebration where they received their packed suitcases and good wishes from the Toyota employees. Toyota’s "Adopt a Champion®" initiative was funded by 11 employees participating in the Charity Run of the Rome Marathon 2023 and Toyota Motor Italy’s donation to Special Olympics Italy. 
“We could imagine the joy and emotions which they will feel participating in the World Games, so, we wanted to share this fantastic experience with them. We all need to get involved in this inclusion movement and prove our worth. Supporting people with disabilities opens up our mind to a more inclusive society.”
Daniela Alagna, Toyota Motor Central di Torino
“We are proud to support the athletes who challenge to overcome difficulties every day. They offer us the opportunity to give, but we end up receiving more because we realise every small support counts to them. The resilience shown by these dedicated athletes convinces us that sport is a fundamental means to exceed own limits.”
Emanuela Manfrin, Toyota Motor Central di Torino
“Every contact with the athletes enriched us. What we did was not huge, but it brought us deep satisfaction. It made us realise how much it means to the athletes when we show our support and share their feelings. The athletes’ dedication opened our eyes – we could see how everyone, regardless of their abilities, can enter an inclusive world and interact with each other through sport.”
Laura Luciani & Martina Lanzi, Toyota Motor Italy
  • Volunteers at Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023
  • Toyota in Italy supports the athletes on their way to Berlin
*Employees of Toyota entities in Germany including Toyota Deutschland GmbH (Toyota Germany), KINTO Deutschland GmbH, Toyota Versicherungsdienst (Toyota Insurance), Toyota Kreditbank GmbH (Toyota Financial Services)