Special Olympics Missouri

A History 40 years in the Making

1968: Special Olympics is founded by Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver as a way for people with intellectual disabilities to gain from the benefits of sports.

1971: Missouri Special Olympics (MSO) is incorporated as a 501(c)3.

1972: Marshall hosts its first-ever track meet.

1975: First State Summer Games held at Fort Leonard Wood; it continued there for 25 years. Missouri sends its first athletes to International Summer Games at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

1976: State Basketball is added to the calendar as a way to train between fall and winter sports seasons.

1977: First Basketball Tournament held in Blue Springs; continues there for 30 years. First Bowling Tournament held in Springfield.

1982: Missouri Special Olympics gets its first computer. First Coaches' Training School is held; founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver is in attendance.

1983: Soccer is added to the sports calendar. Missouri sends a delegation of 99 to Baton Rouge, La., for the International Summer Games.

1986: Law Enforcement Torch Run(R) begins in Missouri and raises $15,000. Aerobathons raise $75,000. LETR, law enforcement

1987: MSO begins awarding medals at competitions. Missouri sends approximately 120 delegates to South Bend, Ind., for the International Summer Games.

1988: Jamie Graham is named the first "Athlete of the Year."

1989: State office moves from Joplin to Jefferson City. Missouri sends 34 delegates to Reno, Nev., for the International Winter Games.

1990: St. Louis Special School District begins offering Special Olympics programs.

1991: Missouri sends 113 athletes and coaches to Minneapolis, Minn., for the International Games.

1993: SOMO celebrates 25 years with the theme "Together We Win." Missouri sends one athlete to Salzburg, Austria for the International Winter Games.

1994: Jefferson City hosts the first Softball Tournament.

1995: Missouri sends 76 delegates to the World Games in New Haven, Conn.

1996: The Polar Plunge is introduced as a fundraiser at the Lake of the Ozarks.2011 Kirksville Plunge

1997: SOMO Board of Directors establishes a Hall of Fame for athletes and non-athletes as a way to recognize longevity and achievement. TIME Magazine publishes a story about Unified Sports partner Ryan Brimer in Boonville. Missouri sends two athletes and one coach to Toronto for the World Winter Games.

1998: Name is changed to "Special Olympics Missouri." First SOMO website is launched.

1999: Missouri sends 67 delegates to World Games in Raleigh, N.C.

2001: Missouri sends five athletes and one coach to the World Winter Games in Anchorage, Alaska.

2002: SOMO instituted a Code of Conduct for athletes and coaches. State Summer Games moves to Columbia after a health concern at Fort Leonard Wood.

2003: Fall Sports Classic is added to the calendar and features soccer and volleyball. SOMO exceeded its three-year-goal of increasing athletes; 4,045 new athletes joined the playing fields. Healthy Athletes was introduced at SOMO state games. Missouri sends 20 delegates to Dublin, Ireland, for the World Summer Games. This is the first time an international summer competition is held outside the United States.

2004: SOMO Endowment Fund is created to ensure long-term sustainability for future generations.

2005: Missouri sends one athlete to Nagano, Japan for the World Winter Games.

2006: Missouri sends 82 athletes and 20 coaches to Ames, Iowa, for the first ever USA National Games.

2007: Missouri sends one athlete, one Unified Partner, one coach and three management team members to Shanghai, China for the World Summer Games.

2008: Flag football is introduced at Sports Camp and the first ever state demonstration is held at the State Indoor Championships in Joplin.Nice Job! First $10,000 donation toward the future Training for Life Campus from James and Sally Estes.

2009: Missouri sends two athletes to Idaho for the World Winter Games. Over the Edge rappelling event is added as SOMO's second signature fundraising event other than Polar Plunge. Missouri athlete Kristina O'Neal is selected to be a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger.

2010: Team Missouri is comprised of 155 athletes, Unified Partners, coaches and staff at the National Games in Lincoln, Neb. MO Magic took home the "Super Fan" award.

2011: Missouri sends seven athletes, two coaches and four management team members to Athens, Greece, for the World Summer Games. Centene Charitable Foundation makes the first $1 million pledge toward the Training for Life Campus.

South Korea 2013, World Winter Games 2013, Mystie, Matt2013: Special Olympics Missouri is inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame; it is the first Special Olympics program to be honored by its state's hall of fame. Missouri sends two athletes to PyeongChang, South Korea, for the World Winter Games.