UAA public relations student takes on the Special Olympics

Public relations major Stacy Schubert has a lot to be happy about these days, in fact you could say she's feeling pretty “special.” As public relations assistant to the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games Alaska, Stacy is involved in one of the biggest events to hit Alaska since the oil pipeline. As president of universities PRSSA chapter (Public Relations Student Society of America, Stacy has been a part of Special Olympics 2001 since last year and finds all the hard work, maniacal planning and long hours very rewarding. With the help of professor Nancy Killoran, Stacy was able to get an internship with the Special Olympics committee. “Nancy is like a mom,” Stacy said. “She has opened so many doors and opportunities for a lot of people at this school and is greatly appreciated.”            

Stacy will participate hands on in an event not many people have a chance to experience hands on. “This was something I really wanted to do,” Stacy said. “In the beginning I didn't realize how big the entire project was. In fact it was pretty overwhelming.”

Stacy is in charge of over 40 UAA volunteer PAL's (press assistant liaison) who initiated contact with the media during last year's pre-Olympic trials at Alyeska and again for this year's main sporting events. Stacy feels her involvement with the Special Olympics ensures a foot in the door for a future PR job, because she has formed bonds throughout the community. Currently, Stacy finds juggling her schoolwork and second job a bit tedious. “It's a bit rough on my social life,” she says. “The time I spend working for the Special Olympics exceeds what I'm allotted, but I feel it's necessary for me to get the job done. I'm overzealous when it comes to work. I know I can overcome the obstacles for at least one semester to make the Olympics work.”

During a conference held in Chicago last year, Stacy not only nosed up to fellow PR students from across the nation, she also took the opportunity to hand out her business cards to potential clients. “Oh, I was made fun of for that stint. But you never know who will be looking for new talent. I'm just staying on my toes,” she said.           

The 2001 Special Olympics was Stacy's first choice for an internship. Delegating responsibilities to her PAL group and working from her cubicle daily gave her an incredible learning experience of the public relations working world. The real benefits, Stacy said, was working with the athletes themselves.

“I met this incredible man at last year's pre-games at Alyeska. He was trying out for the downhill skiing event and he told me the only concern he had was that he was going to fall. His family told him, `try not to fall and you'll be fine.' Well, he ended up tripping up and falling towards the end and he was devastated. At that point his coach, teammates and the crowd gave him so much love and attention that he said he left with an overwhelming amount of accomplishment. I think it's important to have that kind of support and I feel most of the athletes are competing in the Olympics for the sheer fun of it all.”           

Stacy said she was amazed that a lot of the athletes competing in the winter games had never seen snow before.

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“Many of the athletes looked surprised to see so much snow. They had come from states where ski practice happened on hills of sand.

Stacy said she is lucky to be working with so many courageous and motivated volunteers and athletes, praising the efforts of over 3,000 helping hands in Alaska.

“It's going to be a huge event. We have an additional 2,000 signed up volunteers who are waiting for slots to open up, which I think is amazing. I hope every one shows up at the events and gives the athletes tons of support.”