“Our community is only as good as we make it. It’s important to do my share and make this the community I want to live in.”These are the words of Heather Leischner, a risk analyst at PREMIER Bankcard and volunteer for the Special Olympics South Dakota (SOSD). She works with the Sioux Falls Fireworks, the organization’s local delegation, and loves the opportunity to give back.
“I’m making a difference in our athletes’ lives,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot from them; they never let little things bring them down.”
Heather first got the opportunity to volunteer through PREMIER, where she has worked since 1998. One of her coworkers needed help volunteering at bowling practices for the Special Olympics, and Heather decided to help. She spent the next few years volunteering during bowling season until being asked to join the organization’s committee.
“I have not seen any volunteer as dedicated and hardworking as Heather,” said Darryl Nordquist, President and CEO for SOSD. “Her nearly 20 years of volunteering have made this the best-run delegation across South Dakota.”
Heather has spent those 20 years building relationships with hundreds of athletes and getting to know them on a personal level. For many, she has become such a part of their personal lives—and a part of their family—that she joins in their weddings, baby showers, graduations, and more.
Each month, Heather gives roughly 60 to 70 hours of her time to the Sioux Falls Fireworks, and works directly with the athletes every day. She’s a vital part of the organization’s operations and is the first point of contact for all athletes—she keeps a separate cell phone specifically for her SOSD role, so they can always reach her.
“It’s so rewarding to watch our athletes grow and love life. Seeing the excitement on their faces as they stand on the podium and get their medals is worth all the hours,” she said.
The Sioux Falls Fireworks has about 125 athletes in any given sport and more than 400 athletes overall. Our Sioux Falls delegation is therefore the largest in the state, accounting for 20 percent of the total participants. And each volunteer makes its operation possible.
“PREMIER’s mentality of encouraging their employees to get involved is amazing,” said Darryl.“The positive impact that these employees are having on our community is very much appreciated—not just by SOSD, but by all service organizations in and around the area.”
At PREMIER, we strongly believe in empowering our employees to make a difference in their communities. We’re consistently humbled by their willingness to serve, and inspired by the positive impacts they’re making every day. Learn more about our service.