Shining Volunteer

Our volunteers are really cool people who love to help others. We are proud to share their stories with you!


Meet Erin

We are excited to introduce you to one of our amazing volunteers, Erin McLean.  Erin is 18 years old, a senior at Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, OH and attends Ohio State University beginning in the fall of 2018.

Erin signed up to volunteer at iCan Swim Cincinnati to earn service hours for school.  Erin had no idea what to expect.   “I knew nothing about disabilities.  I thought Down syndrome and autism were connected.  I have never known anyone with a disability so I wasn’t exactly sure about what I would be doing.“  Erin says she never really considered herself to be a patient person until she volunteered for iCan Swim.  She says volunteering tested her critical thinking, her creativity and her ability to form a relationship with someone that communicates so differently than she does. 

While Erin volunteered for all five sessions of iCan Swim, thereby working with five different swimmers, there was one swimmer, Emma, that had a big impact on her.  Emma is the same age as Erin and is a member of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati.  Emma has a fear of the water and her goal was to get out of the shallow end of the pool.  Erin reports that Emma was able to reach her goal even though it wasn’t an easy feat. Erin says that working with her same-age peer, Emma, and learning how she communicates changed her life.  Erin said “I never thought about how difficult learning a new recreational skill could be.  Working with Emma gave me a different perspective. The experience expanded my view of the world so much.”

Volunteering at iCan Swim impacted Erin in a couple of profound ways.  She wrote her college entrance essay about Emma and the other swimmers she worked with. Erin had always planned to major in Business in college but narrowed her focus to Non-profit Business after working at the two iCan camps.  Erin commented that she now sees the need and she finds the work done by nonprofits to be rewarding.

Following iCan Swim Erin had the opportunity to volunteer for iCan Bike.  She will return this summer and every year that she can.  “I told everyone I know about iCan Shine and many of them will be joining me this year.  I highly recommend that EVERY person volunteer at a camp if they get the chance.  It is amazing!”  Since iCan Swim and iCan Bike happen only once a year, Erin decided to connect with the camp host, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, regularly volunteering for parent breakfasts, holiday parties and other events. 

As Erin graduates from high school and heads off to college, we are grateful for the impact she made in the lives of others in our programs.  We are overjoyed that iCan Shine changed this young woman’s life in a way that will continue to make the world a better place for us all.  Keep shining Erin!


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