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2014 USA Games Team Missouri Newsletter — Post-games wrap-up

Post-games wrap-up newsletter

Now that we’ve hopefully all recovered from our trip to New Jersey, SOMO staff would like to formally congratulate and thank all of the athletes, coaches, Unified Partners and family members who made Team Missouri possible over the last year. It’s been an amazing ride that was over before we even knew it and one that we’re certainly proud to have been a part of.

We just had a few housekeeping notes to get out to all of you before we shut it all down on Team Missouri 2014.


Gary’s last note

I hardly know where to start as so many people involved in making this one of our greatest moments. I want to thank all of the parents who dedicated themselves to support us, from helping their athletes raise funds, to helping their athletes train, to transporting their athletes and others to practices and to being our fans at the games. And what wonderful fans we had at every venue. I know New Jersey will always remember “Show Me, Show Me, Show Me… MO, MO, MO!” You were awesome and so was our support from home. It was incredible and we thank you all.

Thanks to the coaches who dedicated themselves for the past year to prepare these athletes for the games, giving up their personal time to ensure that our athletes would do their very best. As I said in the last newsletter, Susan and I actually relaxed during the games and got to enjoy watching the athletes, because our coaches were so well prepared. They made sure every athlete took their medications got to bed and woke up on time and got them to their games on time as well. They washed clothes nearly every day and kept their money and personal belongings so they would not get lost and carried their credentials when they played. I was very proud to hear from our coaches how well they were prepared when compared to other states.

Our staff was exceptional. Johnathon making Walmart runs whenever it was needed and supporting the teams every day. Rachel Antal taking photos and assisting Brandon with writing up our daily newsletter and alerts. Brandon, who was everywhere, making sure that we had photos and video from each sport and staying up with Rachel to write the newsletter each night. What a great job they did of communicating our successes to everyone. Renee who took care of upset tummies, scrapes and bruises with all the care of a mother with her children. Tim, who drove the equipment to and from New Jersey for us and who ran errands as needed during the games. And most of all Susan Shaffer, the energizer bunny. I was almost blessed to have her and Genice lose their voices both at the same time — heaven! But I seriously could not have made it around without Susan. She went out early to prepare for our arrival and missed the send-off. We traveled to every venue and at times she was able to save me from collapsing by getting me a ride in a golf cart. What a great group to work with. I admire them all for how they dealt with all of our issues without complaint and had fun the entire time.

Above all I must recognize the athletes. They were phenomenal the entire trip. Never complaining, always smiling and enjoying every minute of every day no matter what the conditions. Whenever I would find myself wanting to curse a situation — believe me there were many — I would look at the example our athletes set and smile instead. At every turn our athletes made us proud. Whether they got the gold or finished with a ribbon they were proud and displayed their awards to everyone that would listen and pay attention. I was so very proud of all of them.

I must also thank Jennifer Rodvelt and Laurie Shadoan for the wonderful send-off they put together in St. Louis. It was awesome. And someone please thank all of the law enforcement officers for me. They made it special for all of us. On our arrival back in Missouri, we were treated to pizza and soda by board member Mr. and Mrs. Roger Gardner, which was arranged by Jennifer Brown. That was a so nice to have something to eat and drink, especially since we had not eaten since 4:30 a.m. And to all of our staff that supported us throughout the year, thank you. Those in the program that helped with arranging practices and those in development that helped with fundraisers and all the processing of the funds in the SOMO HQ Office.

I cannot forget Crystal Schuster. She made the week enjoyable for all of our families and fans in attendance by ensuring they were registered properly and getting all of the tons of information to them as soon as it came out. Thanks, Crystal for making this a great trip for our fans and for supporting us in the process.

Thank you all for making dreams come true. They did not give an award for the best sportsmanship of these games like they did in 2010 in Lincoln, but I’d bet my last dollar that the reason why is that they didn’t want to give it to Special Olympics Missouri two times in a row!

Team Missouri video

Wanting to relive all of your moments of glory on the field of competition? Be sure to check out (and share!) the Team Missouri 2014 video here.


Share your USA Games stories!

Now that the 2014 USA Games are over and done with, SOI wants to hear your stories from the Games, so be sure to log onto https:/// and tell your story about how you competed, traveled with the team or even followed along from home. It’s really quick and easy to do!


USA Games photos/videos

Just a friendly reminder that if you’re looking for USA Games photos, please be sure to check out our Flickr account. While there you will be able to download any high-resolution photos you may like. In addition to the ones Rachel and Brandon took throughout the week, there are also plenty of photos that the USA Games communications team took so be sure to check them out! Also don’t forget that some of our talented athletes took their turn with the GoPro last week and we uploaded their videos to our YouTube channel, so go check them out!


Mobile app

We hope that those of you who used our mobile app found it useful regardless of whether you were on site following the team or wanted to stay up to date back home. If you could be so kind as to take part in a really quick survey about the mobile app on the website, it would really help us figure out how to best serve our athletes and families moving forward. Thank you!


Text message alerts from USA Games

This message comes straight from the USA Games Healthy Athletes organizers, so please read:

The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program is trying to ensure that athletes who need follow up care from Healthy Athletes examinations are getting the care they need following HA. One way we are trying to do this is to follow up with athletes who received referrals from HA by sending them or their caregivers a text message after the event to remind them of the referral they received.

At USA Games, we asked athletes and their caregivers at Opening Eyes and Special Smiles if they would like to receive text messages from Special Olympics to remind them if they needed to seek further care after the Games. Next week, we will send text messages to athletes who had referrals at Opening Eyes or Special Smiles and opted in to receive text messages.

The messages will look like this:

Hi, Robyn. At Special Olympics USA Games, we asked you to see a dentist for treatment. Text back 1 if you made a dental appointment. Text back 2 if you did not.

Based on the response, there are subsequent messages that will go to the athletes in hopes this will prompt them to see a doctor/dentist.

The USA Games GOC is in the early stages of trying out this text message service and will use results and feedback from this pilot at the USA Games to continue to develop a system so eventually more SO Programs can use this service.


Donate to future Team Missouri delegates

Special Olympics Missouri athletes train year-round for sports competitions. With training and competitions in 21 Olympic-style sports, our athletes push hard and play harder. They strive to beat their personal bests, defying the odds again and again. From the local ballfields to the shining stage of the USA Games, from swimming to basketball, our athletes showcase the talents and triumphs of people with intellectual disabilities. You can be part of this exciting program, too.

Please donate to the training of Team Missouri athletes now and into the future by becoming a Team Missouri donor. You can donate online at or by mailing your donation to: Special Olympics Missouri – Team Missouri, 1001 Diamond Ridge, Suite 800, Jefferson City, MO 65109.