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Chiefs Coach Andy Reid boosts SOMO

Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid speaks to a crowd of Special Olympics Missouri supporters on June 10 at Arrowhead Stadium.

By JODIE JACKSON JR. | Special Olympics Missouri

KANSAS CITY – Kansas City Chiefs Coach Andy Reid pointed to the resilience of Special Olympics athletes, then called on a crowd of some 300 people to “step up and step out” to support Special Olympics Missouri Thursday night at “An Evening With Andy Reid” at Arrowhead Stadium.

Reid led Special Olympics Missouri athletes and supporters in a “Go Chiefs!” cheer at the event that included silent and live auctions of Chiefs and Kansas City Royals memorabilia. The evening was designed to introduce and connect the Kansas City metro area with the story of Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO), which marks its 50th anniversary this year.

“Special Olympics is sports. And Special Olympics is so much more than sports,” said SOMO President and CEO Susan Stegeman. “SOMO is about relationships. SOMO is about health and wellness.”

Kansas City Chiefs Coach Andy Reid stands for photos with K.C. Wolf and a group of Special Olympics Missouri athletes.
Kansas City Chiefs Coach Andy Reid stands for photos with K.C. Wolf and a group of Special Olympics Missouri athletes.

Stegeman thanked Reid for his support and noted that Missouri is just one of four states that is back in action, hosting 550 athletes on June 5 for the State Summer Games in Columbia. The Games also featured more than 200 volunteers.

“We are back and we are ready to roll!” she exclaimed.

Master of Ceremonies Mitch Holthus, the Voice of the Chiefs, perfectly set the stage for the event, leading the crowd in his trademark call, “Touchdown Kanza-City!” He seasoned the evening with numerous Holthus trademarks, including, “Other teams score a touchdown, but we taste the sweet nectar of the end zone.”

He introduced Reid as “a champion of the heart and a champion of the soul,” and challenged the crowd to “help him change even more lives through Special Olympics Missouri.”

Gov. Mike Parson also spoke and introduced SOMO athlete Beth Brokamp, who led the Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

“It is important for all of us to do all we can to bolster our support of Special Olympics Missouri and these athletes,” Parson said before turning the mic over to Brokamp.

Brokamp, a SOMO Hall of Famer and former Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year, spoke again later, getting a standing ovation from the crowd.

“That was almost as good as a Patrick Mahomes no-look touchdown pass,” Holthus said.

SOMO athlete and global health messenger Alan Tobin told the crowd how SOMO health screenings helped him receive hearing aids, eye glasses, and dentures, all at no cost to him.

“If it was not for Healthy Athletes, a lot of us would not get any health screenings,” Tobin said, pointing out that Special Olympics is the world’s largest health organization for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

“Health is a big problem for us with intellectual disabilities,” he added. “A healthy mind is a healthy athlete.”

Diamond Pet Foods was a presenting sponsor, along with Special Olympics Missouri’s statewide partners: Knights of Columbia, Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Missouri, Missouri Association of Student Councils, and the University of Missouri System.

Additional sponsors were Tommy Bahama, MPIX, Learfield/IMG College, Bass Pro Shops, Commerce Bank, Dollar Burns Becker & Hershewe, Polsinelli, GFI Digital, and Block & Company Inc.

Next up for SOMO, following the June 5 State Summer Games and the June 10 event with Coach Reid, plans are full swing for dual events on Saturday, June 26. SOMO will celebrate its 50th anniversary that day with an awards and Hall of Fame ceremony. In addition, around 190 athletes will arrive for Team Missouri Selection Camp for the USA Games next summer in Orlando. Selection Camp runs through July 1 at the Training for Life Campus and other locations in Jefferson City and Fulton.