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’18 Team Missouri: A former Missourian learns ins and outs of Special Olympics for first time at USA Games

 This story comes from our first-ever athlete-leader PR assistant, Allison D’Agostino. 

Tammie Turpen, USA Games 2018 volunteer, currently resides in Bredrin, Washington, On day one, during the Track & Field competitions, she helped Jesse Hodgson walk off the track. Jesse Hodgson has limited eyesight and uses a red and white cane normally used for the blind and people like him.

One of the coaches briefly talked to her and discovered she once lived in Missouri – St. Joseph to be precise. Her father was in the military, which caused them to move across the country multiple times.

She discovered Special Olympics would be in Seattle when someone from Microsoft, her former employer, sent out an alert saying the organization needed volunteers. Turpen knew of Special Olympics before she signed up to volunteer, but only barely.

Turpen was socially-conscious and spoke her mind at every question asked. She even put in her prior knowledge of Special Olympics before her expectations of this week.
“I didn’t know this was a national. I thought this was just for the state,” Turpen commented. “I’ve learned a ton. Like, that this is every four years.”

Those who are aware of Special Olympics but do not research into it often don’t realize how big and serious Special Olympics is. Many even think Special Olympics only happens once a year. This former Missouri resident definitely will be learning more this week. She even expected people would be heads down. Turpen was surprised to see them engaging.

“Everyone is welcoming and nice,” said Tammie. Even Jesse Hodgson is nice and “amazing,” as she and the interviewer, Allison D’Agostino, pointed out. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect.” For this week, though, she expects to see “a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of courage, a lot of strength, and a lot of fun.”

She came to the USA Games with an open mind and a helping hand. In the process, she made a friend out of Jesse Hodgson and learned how capable he is. One would imagine Tammie Turpen will leave with a mind full of amazing knowledge about Special Olympics, its athletes across the country, and how united everything is. She can spread that to everyone she knows, to make America a little more kind.

Jesse and st joe volunteer

Jesse Hodgson posts for a photo with former Missourian and 2018 USA Games volunteer Tammie Turpen who was Jesse’s helper on Monday