Summer of Purpose: Everyone is Welcome

By Dana J. Smith
Cleveland Special Events Corporation/Gay Games 9

Smith photoTo me, the city of Cleveland has always represented new beginnings and personal growth. I moved to Cleveland in 2011 to attend Cleveland State University, and my experience in the city has helped me grow into the person I am today. Cleveland has offered me so many valuable opportunities. This summer, I have been able to aid in offering an opportunity back to the city I now call home.

I have spent the last few months working as an operations intern for the Cleveland Special Events Corporation, which has hosted Gay Games 9. The Gay Games is a quadrennial international sporting and cultural event, open to any and all participants 18 and older regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, nationality, athletic ability, etc.

As one who considers herself an advocate for social equity, I found this internship a perfect fit. It gave me the chance to further explore my passion for both the nonprofit realm and the city itself. I had the privilege of working as part of a highly inclusive, innovative and enthusiastic team, which taught me just what it means to work for something larger than myself.

As the Aug. 9 kickoff of the Gay Games approached, it was so exciting to see all of my hard work coming together. My position allowed me to work alongside the Operations Department as well as the Volunteer and Ticketing departments, which exposed me to a smorgasbord of assignments, including hosted housing and a welcome reception for our scholarship recipients, volunteer training and ticketing.

The Gay Games have ended, but it is impossible to put a value on the experiences my internship provided me. I found a position working with an organization that I not only love, but believe in. I believe in participation, inclusion and personal best. I believe in the Gay Games.

Dana Smith is a junior at Cleveland State University, majoring in finance.