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 We are dispatching a call for all thrill seekers. Team KC will participate in the Over the Edge event on Oct. 4, 2013.  Brave men and women seeking an experience of a lifetime will rappel Over the Edge.  In addition to the experience, they will be supporting KC Metro athletes in Special Olympics who overcome their fears everyday.  All proceeds from the event benefit the 2,200 local athletes who train and compete in Special Olympics in the KC Metro area.  This year’s goal is 20 participants and $20,000.  

Over the Edge is open to anyone 14 years or older who is a fan of having a good time for a good cause. The event will take place at Four Seasons Hotel at Lumiere Place in St. Louis.   Event festivities begin at 8:30 a.m. and the rappel starts promptly at 9 a.m.

Each participant will raise a minimum $1,000 to participate in Over the Edge. Participants will be rewarded for reaching extreme fundraising goals:  $1,000/ $3,000/ $6,000/ $10,000.  Top Teams will be recognized in the following categories: Extreme Edgers in Education, Corporate Teams and Family Teams.

The easiest and most efficient way to register and fundraise is online! Simply go to www.somo.org/edge, sign up, and email your friends and families to support you.  You will receive an OTE Participant package to help you prepare and fundraise.  

For more information about Over the Edge, please contact Kami Delameter, Regional Development Director, at (913) 789-0332 or email delameter@somo.org.





Athlete Profiles - Featuring KC Metro Athlete Elijah Skoropat!

Athlete Profile - Harrisonville's Elijah Skoropat!

The KC Metro Area is thrilled to announce its Winter Athlete Profile featuring Harrisonville High School Athlete, Elijah Skoropat!

Elijah, the youngest son of Roger and Kim Skoropat has an older brother, CJ and an older sister, Samantha. Also in Elijah’s family are two dogs and a cat. He is a sophomore at Harrisonville High School where he is an honor student!  In August of 2012 Elijah was recognized in the Excellence in Academics Assembly at Harrisonville High School with a medallion honoring the completion of his freshman year in the top 15 percent of his class!

Elijah participates in Special Olympics bowling, basketball and track and field and has participated in all three sports for the past five years.  In addition to the medals he has earned through Special Olympics competitions, he has also lettered in all three of those sports at Harrisonville High School!

Elijah’s favorite SOMO sport is Track and Field where he competes in the 100 meter run, softball throw, standing long jump and the 4X100 meter relay. His favorite memory of Special Olympics is spending time in hotels while traveling to Special Olympics Missouri competitions.

Elijah’s coach, Dawn Travis once said, "Elijah is an example of an example.  Faced with many issues within his disability, he is the kind of kid that a teacher and coach wants to be around on a daily basis.  Elijah is a very selfless team player that really does not care if he wins or not.  He just wants to be there to compete and then cheer on his fellow teammates.  When many of his teammates leave upon completion of their events, Elijah is always right by my side cheering our last participant on and then walking me out to the parking lot to my car.  He loves to participate and he really loves to tell people that he is a Special Olympics athlete.  He comes to each practice, never missing a single one, with a smile on his face, ready to do what is asked of him."

In addition to excelling in school and competing in Special Olympics Elijah loves to play video games, watch wrestling, (his favorite wrestler is John Cena) spend time on Facebook and socialize with friends. One surprising fact about Elijah is that once he meets you, he never forgets your name!  While in middle school, there was not one single girl that he did not know that name of! J

Elijah does not work currently, but his goal is to be a middle school manager (custodial helper) and also to become a Life Skills Classroom helper to assist students in reading. 

We are so proud and thankful to have Elijah as an athlete in the KC Metro Area – congratulations on being our featured athlete Elijah!!



Win a Brand New Ford Mustang Convertible!

(Kansas City, MO) -- Supporters throughout the state are raising funds for Special Olympics Missouri through the annual Wheels for Winners Raffle.  Missouri law enforcement officers and Special Olympics Missouri are offering tickets for a chance to win a brand new Ford Mustang Convertible.  The Ford Mustang Convertible is donated by the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association (MADA) -- with 100% of the proceeds going directly to support Special Olympics Missouri programs.

The Wheels for Winners Raffle is a statewide fundraising effort and the Kansas City Metro Area has a goal of raising $8,000 from ticket sales.  Raffle tickets are $5 each.  With each ticket, individuals will have a chance to win the Mustang. Each area of the state (eight total, 2 for St. Louis) will draw a first, second and third place winner, all of whom will receive a prize. The first place winner from each area will receive lodging and tickets to the MU vs. Syracuse football game at Faurot Field in Columbia on Nov. 17.   The second place prize is a $100 gift card and the third place prize is a $50 gift card.

The drawings for each area finalist will be held between Nov.  3 - 6 at the top selling dealership in each area. The Mustang giveaway will take place during the game on Nov. 17th. Finalists will each randomly select a key, one of which will start the car.

Law Enforcement Agencies throughout the state continually support Special Olympics Missouri through the Law Enforcement Torch Runâ .  The Wheels for Winners raffle is part of their year-round fundraising effort.  Tickets are available at local law enforcement offices, at Shop’n Save stores, at participating MADA dealerships, at the Special Olympics Kansas City Metro Area office, and at www.somo.org.  For more information, visit the www.somo.org/win or call 913.789.0332.   

Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes participate in 21 Olympic-type sports throughout the state with more than 2,200 athletes participating locally.  Special Olympics provides people with developmental disabilities continuing opportunities to develop fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with other athletes, their families and the community.  

It's time to register for KC Metro's Motorcycle Fundraiser - Jimmie's Miles for Medals Dice Run

7th Annual Jimmie's Miles for Medals Dice Run

Come out and join us on Saturday, August 18, 2012!!

Registration opens at 7:30 am at Gail's Harley-Davidson and kickstands are up at 9:30 am

Miles for Medals Dice Run is a motorcycle ride benefiting Special Olympics KC Metro and its 2,212 athletes. It is a joint fundraiser between the Special Olympics KC Metro Fan Club and local Law Enforcement through the Law Enforcement Torch Run® program that raises awareness and funds for local athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Come out and participate in the fun and help celebrate the 20+ years Law Enforcement has been supporting Special Olympics! Click here to register online!

Jimmie’s Miles for Medals Dice Run will tour Kansas City on Saturday, August 18!  The run will begin at Gail’s Harley-Davidson in Grandview, with stops throughout the Kansas City Metro area such as Wabash BBQ in Excelsior Springs and The Brass Rail in KC North.  The ride will end at the Hilton Garden Inn in Independence with a party and prizes.  The run will be escorted by local law enforcement. At each stop, riders will roll dice and record the number they roll. Lunch and other food/drinks will be provided.

The Hilton Garden Inn is providing a special room rate for those wishing to stay overnight after the run.  Please contact them for more details - 816.350.3000.

Prizes will be given for:

  • Highest total from rolls throughout the day
  • Lowest total from rolls throughout the day
  • Highest Fundraiser
  • Other door prizes will be given

Special Olympics KC Metro serves 2,212 people with intellectual disabilities in the five counties in the metro area. Improvements in physical fitness and motor skills, greater self confidence and self-image are just a few skills Special Olympics athletes develop through participation in the program. Your participation in Miles for Medals Dice Run helps continue to provide year-round sports training and athletic competitions for our athletes.

Athlete Profiles - Featuring KC Metro Athlete Jacob Bentley!
 Let's Celebrate KC Metro Athlete Jacob Bentley!

The KC Metro Area is proud to announce its Summer Athlete Profile featuring Raytown High School Athlete Jacob Bentley!

Jacob is a Raytown High School student, Special Olympics Track & Field and Bowling athlete, Eagle Scout, Honor Roll Student and all around outstanding person.

Jacob's coach, Kristin Playter says there are many reasons Jacob is an outstanding athlete, person and choice for our athlete feature. 

"Jacob is an athlete who is up for anything.  He'll try any event that I ask of him and can often be found, cheering on his teammates without being asked. He has a can-do attitude and brings great enthusiasm to our team. I also teach Jacob at Raytown High School. He is an eager student in the classroom as well. He comes in every morning to work the coffee shop with me and is positive from the moment he walks in the building to the moment he leaves. He is happy for his fellow classmates when they succeed and offers a sympathetic shoulder when they are down. Jacob would love to play on our basketball team, but unfortunately, he is legally blind and cannot participate. That does not stop him from coming to our games to support his team. Jacob is unique, because despite being blind, he still is very active outside of school. Jacob is an accomplished Eagle Scout. He has many stories to share about camping trips and community service projects that he participates in with his scouts. All in all, Jacob has a great spirit and I'm proud to be his teacher, as well as his coach."

This past April, Jacob was honored in April at the Kansas City Metro Area Spring Games as the 2012 Official Manual Calderon Spirit Award Winner. The Manual Calderon Spirit Award is given in honor of Manuel Calderon, a wonderful volunteer who mentored athletes in his neighborhood and was a proud supporter of the Kansas City Metro Area overall.

Athletes who are honored with this award show excellence in many ways including that they inspire greatness in others including fellow athletes, coaches, volunteers, etc., they display outstanding sportsmanship and they are an excellent team player.

Jacob fully showcases and lives out the qualifications for this award, and in April, Gwen Calderon, Manuel's wife was pleased to present this honor to Jacob.  

We are so proud and thankful to have Jacob in the KC Metro Area - congratulations on being our featured athlete Jacob!!





(Kansas City) Companies looking for over the top exposure and marketing benefits should sponsor the upcoming Over the Edge event.  While the event isn’t planned until September 28, 2012 – sponsors need to secure their place now for the annual Over the Edge to receive all event benefit.  The deadline is July 6, 2012 and is limited to the first 10 partners.

Over the Edge is the event where people rappel from the Clubhouse on Baltimore or toss their boss from the Clubhouse on Baltimore for an extreme experience of a lifetime.  They also do it to support the athletes and programs of Special Olympics Missouri who has contracted with the Over the Edge Company to operate 3 events in 2012. 

Sponsors receive recognition on media coverage with our OTE Media Partners, on our online registration site, in e-communications to our past participants as well as on printed material, recognition and exposure onsite during the event and in post event publicity.  Sponsorships of cash and in-kind donations help support the event.  Examples of in-kind donations include media, prizes, and food for the event.  Sponsorships are limited at each level to offer limited event clutter. 

Over the Edge is one of many events planned and hosted by Missouri’s law enforcement community because Special Olympics is law enforcement’s charity of choice.  For information about the event – go to www.somo.org/edgekc.

For more information about sponsorship, please contact Kami Delameter, Over the Edge Planner, at (913) 789-0332, or email delameter@somo.org.

Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes participate in 21 Olympic-type sports throughout the state.  Special Olympics provides people with mental disabilities continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with their fellow athletes, their family and friends, and communities across Missouri.

Athlete Profiles - Featuring KC Metro Athlete Brittany Selken!

Written by Julia Hansen:

Although I have not been an employee of Special Olympics long one athlete stands out to me as truly outstanding. Athlete, Brittany Selken is outstanding in many ways, but especially as a leader in Special Olympics.


When I first met Brittany I was intimidated by her "tough girl" exterior. It didn’t take me long to realize how gentle, kind, caring mature and funny she actually is. In my time spent around her Brittany is always willing to help with anything, making new friends by including others (you can often hear here yelling "Heyyyy!" across a room) or working hard as a teammate on the countless teams she’s involved with through Jackson County Parks and Recreation. Brittany is involved in 13 different Special Olympics sports including: Athletics, Aquatics, Basketball, Bowling, Unified Bowling, Bocce, Unified Bocce, Unified Floor Hockey, Flag Football, Tennis, Volleyball and Unified Softball. Brittany has advanced all the way to National Games twice! She competed in Ames, Iowa in Athletics and in Lincoln, Nebraska in Tennis.

    Brittany’s Coach, who has been a Special Olympics coach for over 30 years, has nothing but good things to say about Brittany. Here are some things Coach Bea Webb has said:

"Brittany is a prime example of an athlete growing into maturity through sports. I have watched this young lady grow from a screaming child to a young lady. Not only has she matured in age, but in every way possible. She has grown into a lovely deserving athlete of such an honor. She works very hard at all her sports giving everything that she can. She shares the moments with all her teammates."

"She has had the opportunity to participate in both National Games Ames, Iowa in Athletics and National Games Lincoln, Nebraska in Tennis. She represented her home team well with medals. Her skills are more than the sports that she participates in. Her sportsmanship exceeds the norm."

"Brittany has the ability to inspire many other athletes. She talks with them and encourages them to play their best. Brittany cares for each and everyone on her team and off. She is a social butterfly and makes a great effort to meet everyone and has the ability to remember their name."

"Brittany has been involved in Special Olympics since 1999. Brittany’s involvement has grown. She has given speeches and is now working on becoming a global messenger."


We are so proud to have Brittany as one of our KC Metro Area Athletes!


The 8th Annual Polar Plunge on Jan. 28 at Kansas City was a splashing success, raising $251,262 to date.  A record 1,189 brave men and women from around the area donned costumes and swimwear to take a chilly dip into Longview Lake.  Their Reason for Freezin’… the athletes of Special Olympics Missouri! 

Online fundraising is ongoing and donations can be made at www.somo.org/plungekc 

This year, the title of top fundraising school went to Belton Schools. Jeff Kyle, of Team Raymore-Peculiar, took home honors for top fundraising individual.  Kyle rallied his friends, family, and co-workers to contribute $4,670 to the cause. Top fundraising team was the Kansas City Police Credit Union with over $12,000 raised for Special Olympic athletes in Kansas City.

This year’s event was held in conjunction with the Lee’s Summit, Kansas City, and Belton Police Departments.  The Pleasant Hill, Grain Valley, and Independence Police Departments and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department were also represented at the event. Area sponsors included Lee, Time Warner Cable, Metro Sports and The Pitch.

For more information about the Polar Plunge and to see pictures from each plunge, visit www.somo.org/plungekc.


Special Olympics Missouri Presents Over the Edge!

Special Olympics fans to rappel at The Clubhouse on Baltimore
Photo/Video opportunity: Friday, September 30, 8:00am - 5:00pm

KANSAS CITY, MO - Special Olympics Missouri is proud to present its 3rd annual Over the Edge, a special event fundraiser benefiting Special Olympics athletes in the KC Metro Area. Participants have raised money in support of local Special Olympics athletes, for the opportunity to rappel from the balcony of The Clubhouse on Baltimore on September 30.

"We take pride in providing a year-round program for our athletes, which allows them to achieve goals in life they once thought impossible. With Over the Edge, we're asking fans to do the same thing. By stepping outside their comfort zones for one day, these fans will make it possible for Special Olympics athletes to create a lifetime of their own unforgettable memories," said Julia Hansen of Special Olympics Missouri.

Event organizers will be available for remarks, and the first participants in Over the Edge 2011 will be available for photo/video coverage on Friday, September 30 from 8:00am-5:00pm.

About the Event:
Date: September 30
Time: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Place: The Clubhouse on Baltimore - 1228 Baltimore, Kansas City, MO 64105

- Media will be allowed to film Over the Edge participants as they rappel. Please notify Special Olympics Missouri (sjones@somo.org or 314-973-9268) if you plan to attend so we can work with you to obtain the best possible coverage for your story.
- A list of participants is available should you wish to secure interviews, photos or information about participants in your town. Over the Edge participants hail from the following cities: Belton, Brookfield, Independence, Kansas City, Lee's Summit, Overland Park, Parkville, St. Joseph, Shawnee and Warrensburg.



Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes participate in 21 Olympic-type sports throughout the state. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with their fellow athletes, their family and friends, and communities across Missouri.



July 26 KC Metro Golf Tournament Canceled

The KC Metro Area Golf Tournament scheduled for Tuesday, July 26 at Shoal Creek Golf Course has been canceled due to weather forecasts of extreme heat.  We apologize for the inconvenience, but hope you understand the need to make the safety of athletes and volunteers a priority.  

The tournament will not be rescheduled.  Coaches will be notified regarding athlete advancement into next month's SOMO Outdoor Championships.  We encourage volunteers to consider joining us for our District Softball tournament this weekend at Tiffany Hills Park, or later this year at another event on our calendar. 

William Chrisman Special Olympics Fan Club Holds Prom For Athletes

The Chrisman Special Olympics Fan Club sponsored a Prom for the Special Education department on May 15 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Independence. The students were treated to a night of games, dancing, and awards.

Graduating Senior Joshua Robinett and Sophomore Shiley McLaughlin were crowned King and Queen.

The Special Olympics athletes were awarded with their Chrisman letters. Receiving letters were: Seniors – Joshua Marshall, Matthew Water, Joshua Robinett, and Kenneth Barrows; Junior – Daniel Crane; Sophomores – Gabriel Gronniger and Alec Belk; Freshman – Tristen Lang and Matthew Cepeda.


(Kansas City) Andy Martinez, The Reed Family, Nancy Chettle, Mark Haley, Bernadette Bond and Kansas City Corporate Challenge were all recognized for their outstanding contributions to Special Olympics Missouri – Kansas City area at the Kansas City Area Spring Games in Lee’s Summit April 16. Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) presents its most prestigious awards to those who have made significant contributions to the Special Olympics movement. Each area recipient is submitted for statewide recognition, and the overall winners will be announced during Opening Ceremonies of the State Summer Games in Springfield May 25.

The Kansas City Area award winners are:


Andy has participated in Special Olympics in several states before moving to Missouri and has become one of our most decorated athletes since arriving here. While he is certainly one of our area’s most recognizable athletes, and a fantastic role model for others in our area, this past year has found Andy to become even more noteworthy. In Special Olympics, Andy competes in athletics, aquatics, basketball, bowling, flag football, golf, soccer, softball and snowshoeing. He travels to virtually every competition we offer. Andy is an inspiration to all of the athletes in our area, and has also inspired many fans and friends along the way. He is an incredible asset to Special Olympics.


Mark is a teacher at Blue Springs High School, and is also the head baseball coach. Fortunately, SOMO offers flag football in the fall during a lull in the baseball calendar, so Mark agreed to help out with the team. It didn’t take long for him to become hooked and for the team to be hooked on him. The young team caught on quickly too, placing 2nd in their first area tournament against older competition and earning an invitation to try out for the 2010 National Games. They were chosen and thanks to Mark, Team Missouri brought home a national championship in 2010 and created memories that everyone in SOMO will remember for years. More importantly, he has assembled a group of young men that are more talented and disciplined, and that consider themselves brothers both on and off the playing field. He has also helped Blue Springs athletes gain respect in the hallways of their schools.


Nancy’s involvement began when her son, Dakota, was in great need of exercise and friends. Those voids were filled quickly as Dakota, quickly grew to love Special Olympics and showed off some very impressive athletic ability. When Dakota first began swimming at Park Hill, Nancy jumped in the water right away to work with other swimmers and help them along. From that one sport, she has added softball, tennis, bocce and soccer to her plate, often advancing her teams to state competition. As a registered nurse, she makes herself available to help injured athletes and to educate her agency’s coaches on how to best handle injury situations. An outstanding Special Olympics volunteer goes above and beyond, at virtually any cost or request, to make the program better. They also inspire others, young and old, to do more for the program. Normally it takes several people to accomplish everything listed above, but it’s all done with ease by Nancy Chettle.


Individually, the members of this family are outstanding. Together though, they are truly even more remarkable. They put in much effort to make sure Special Olympics is a major part of their lives and because of this, their team and the entire area are stronger.


The Kansas City Area is very pleased at the recent growth of our LETR program, and a shining example of this grow comes from the Kansas City Police Department. The heart of that effort is Bernadette. She has been a part of our Broadway Bridge Run planning committee from day one, heading up registration and running it with great efficiency. She continued that this past year, but has also taken on even more responsibility after being inspired at her first LETR International Conference. The KC Metro Area has many heroes in law enforcement that help to raise thousands of dollars and keep our athletes training year-round at no cost. Sergeant Bond has helped our program grow in many ways.


KCCC selected Special Olympics as their charity for a three-year term beginning in 2008. Over the course of those three years, KCCC and it participating companies have contributed nearly $50,000 to the program. Several companies also go above and beyond, thanks to KCCC’s encouragement, and participation in dress down days or other fundraisers. These efforts have brought in thousands more for our athletes! KCCC also encourages its members to volunteer for the program, and to invite our Global Messengers to speak to their employees. We have scored valuable outreach opportunities thanks to Corporate Challenge. The most humbling part of KCCC’s support is that they have chosen to extend our agreement and remain with Special Olympics for a 4th year in 2011! In short, the we are extremely grateful for the support of Kansas City Corporate Challenge and hope to work with them and their participating companies for years to come.

A complete listing of all the statewide and area award winners will be posted on the SOMO website at www.somo.org 

in early June. Please visit the Press Box section. For information about Special Olympics Missouri or the Annual Award recipients, please contact Mandi Steward at 1-800-846-2682 or steward@somo.org.

Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes participate in 21 Olympic-type sports throughout the state. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to develop fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with their fellow athletes, their family and friends and communities across Missouri.


Special Olympics Athlete Kristina O’Neal Heads To Morocco
Special Olympics Athlete Kristina O’Neal Delegates will Join more than 60 other Special Olympics Athlete Leaders from Around the World to Discuss Ways to Enhance Special Olympics

Kansas City, MO June 2010 – Special Olympics Missouri announced today that it will be sending Kristina O’Neal of Levasy, MO to Morocco next week to attend the third Special Olympics Global Athlete Congress (GAC). The Special Olympics GAC will be held in Marrakech, Morocco 6 June, bringing together 66 Special Olympics athletes from more than 35 countries. The athletes will also be official delegates of the Special Olympics 2010 Global Congress Summit 6 June – 10.

The mission of the GAC  is to bring Special Olympics athletes from around the world together to discuss issues important to the movement and to propose new policies for enhancing Special Olympics – on topics ranging from competition management to athletes serving a more prominent leadership role in government relations and fundraising.

The athletes that serve on the GAC range in age from 16-50, and represent all seven of the Special Olympics global regions. The diversity of delegates will help create a stronger voice for people with intellectual disabilities off the playing field and in a governmental setting. The GAC is an extension of Special Olympics Athletic Leadership Programs (ALPs), which provide leadership opportunities in the areas of governance, public speaking and coaching to Special Olympics athletes. Delegates include past and present International Global Messengers and Program Board Directors, who serve as spokespersons around the world.

These athlete delegates will also have the opportunity to serve as delegates to the 2010 Global Congress, where they will join with Special Olympics leadership to discuss the 2011-2015 Strategic Plan and to network with those leaders concerning ideas for improving and expanding the movement.

“This Athlete Congress is an opportunity for us as Special Olympics athletes to show the world our abilities while also serving as leaders of a movement we passionately want to grow,” said Special Olympics South Africa athlete and current GAC Chair Ephraim Mopedi Mohlakane. “There are more than 200 million people worldwide with intellectual disabilities, so it is crucial for us to use this Congress as an opportunity to speak to the opportunities to help gain respect and acceptance for those of us with intellectual disabilities.”

“We are very proud of Kristina and know that she will represent Missouri and our area well. This is also a great opportunity to showcase Kansas City to the world,” said Jeremie Ballinger, Special Olympics Missouri’s KC Metro Area Director. 

This is just the third GAC in Special Olympics’ history. At the inaugural congress in May 2000 in the Netherlands, 67 athlete leaders took steps toward creating new terminology and the first global codes of conduct for athletes and coaches.  The second GAC convened in 2005 in Panama City, Panama and included 70 athletes from around the world. The first-ever all-athlete congress originated back in 1994 with a select group of local athletes in North Carolina, USA, followed by a regional congress in Jamaica in 1995.

For more information about the Special Olympics 2010 Global Congress please visit:



About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly 3.5 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs.  Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in places like China and from regions like the Middle East to the community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard.  Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.



(Kansas City) Carolyn Strode, Cathy Rice, Kohl’s, the Chettle family, WDAF Fox 4, Lee’s Summit Police Department, and South Independence Evening Optimists were all recognized for their outstanding contributions to Special Olympics Missouri – Kansas City Metro area at the KC Metro Area Spring Games at Lee’s Summit South High School, April 24. Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) presented its most prestigious awards to those who have made significant contributions to the Special Olympics movement. Each area recipient is submitted for statewide recognition, and the overall winners will be announced during Opening Ceremonies of the State Summer Games in Springfield May 26.


The Kansas City Metro Area award winners are:



Carolyn Strode is one of our most recognizable athletes and a fantastic role model to others.  This last year has found her to be even more noteworthy.  Carolyn wanted to learn to play golf and wants to practice as much as possible which is how she approaches all sports, with dedication.  She was chosen to compete in the sport at National Games this summer.  To do this she has to raise $1,000.  She spends all her extra time making things to sell to pay her way and help her teammates cover their goals as well.  She is truly an exceptional person and an outstanding athlete. 



Cathy Rice started programs back in 1990 where she helped us start Challenge Days.  Recently she has been at work in the Blue Springs School District where they have a program at all levels - elementary, middle and high school.  She has gone so far as to coordinate the schools adaptive PE curriculum so that it includes Special Olympics in the school day.  This summer she will lead a unified flag football team to National Games.



Kohl’s sent an estimated 150 volunteers to local events in 2009 totaling 500 volunteer hours.  Every time they volunteer they submit a grant application.  Because of the number of volunteers and hours they gave to us, we received $14,000 last year.  We applaud Kohl’s and thank them for their tremendous support in human and financial resources.



The Chettle family began when their son Dakota needed exercise and a social outlet.  Both Nancy and Craig have jumped in as certified coaches and chaperones. They use their experiences to share with other families to help them get more out of Special Olympics.  They inspire others to do more through their efforts and dedication as coaches, fans and fundraisers. 



They have always been supportive of our events, but in 2009 they did even more to work for us.  Meteorologist Don Harman launched a two week campaign promoting Over the Edge, and his rappel from The Clubhouse on Baltimore was broadcast live during the morning news.  In addition, when SOMO golfer Jacob Sanger landed a hole in one during competition, reporter Rob Low was on the scene within 24 hours to tell Jacob’s story, which was then seen as far away as Hawaii.  Fox 4 has done so much for us locally and we can’t thank them enough.     



This department is a shining example of an agency who is taking the lead in growing the Torch Run in our area.  Under the coordination of Officer Mark Wiesemann the department does an amazing job of raising money and showing their volunteer support.  This dedication also comes from Chief Joe Piccinini , who has committed the department to supporting our program, and from officers like Sergeant Brian Wilson who has been a Super Plunger for the last two years.  Perhaps the greatest growth has been seen in their leg of the Torch Run when 30 officers showed up last year. 



They were one of the original supporters of our Polar Plunge and the Dodge Raffle.  Perhaps their greatest support has come with the planning of our Miles for Medals Dice Run. They are outstanding friends and supporters. We’d like to present them this award in honor of Jimmie Ferguson, a member of the Miles for Medals planning committee who passed away last year. 


A complete listing of all the statewide and area award winners will be posted on the SOMO website at www.somo.org in early June.  Please visit the Press Box section. For information about Special Olympics Missouri or the Annual Award recipients, please contact Mandi Mueller at 1-800-846-2682 or mueller@somo.org.


Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes participate in 21 Olympic-type sports throughout the state.  Special Olympics provides people with mental disabilities continuing opportunities to develop fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with their fellow athletes, their family and friends and communities across Missouri. 

(Kansas City) The Special Olympics USA National Games will be held July 18-23, 2010. In the heart of the competition in Lincoln, Neb., will be Missouri’s own delegation of more than 161 athletes and coaches. Team Missouri athletes will compete individually in aquatics, athletics, bocce, bowling, golf, powerlifting and tennis, and the delegation will also include five teams in basketball, flag football, softball and volleyball.

Athletes and coaches from the Kansas City Metro Area include:
Aquatics – Kodie McWilliams (Lee’s Summit), Kristina O’Neal (Levasy), Mike Cohu (Blue Springs), Tim Jenkins (Kansas City), Cheryl Heltzel (Coach – Lone Jack)

Athletics – Tanya Johnson (Kansas City), Jennifer Neihouse (Lee’s Summit), Carissa Myers (Kansas City), Del Grimaldi (Blue Springs), Colin Garrison (Kansas City), Faraidoon Amighi (Kansas City), Rodney Shoaf (Independence), Julie Wynn (Coach – Kansas City), Sheryl Nelson (Coach – Lee’s Summit)

Bocce – Candy Johnson (Kansas City), Tiffany Johnson (Kansas City), Alisha Schmidt (Kansas City), Ciera Van Vleck (Odessa), John Hughes (Kansas City), Josh Jowett (Kansas City), Dakota Chettle (Kansas City), Kathy Meyer (Unified Partner – Sugar Creek)

Bowling – Jesse Lewis (Independence), Brennan Mickens (Kansas City), Berma Webb (Coach – Kansas City), Mike VanVleck (Coach – Kansas City)

Flag Football – James Greenwood (Blue Springs), Rafael Rulon (Blue Springs), Bernard Hill (Blue Springs), Robert Mills Jr (Blue Springs), Bryan Snow (Blue Springs), Andrew Shaffer (Blue Springs), Joe Sewell (Blue Springs), Brent Roberts (Blue Springs), Arthur Murphy (Independence), Jaron Ray (Blue Springs), Cathy Rice (Coach – Blue Springs), Mark Haley (Coach – Blue Springs), Joe Malone (Coach – Blue Springs)

Golf – Carolyn Strode (Kansas City), Andrew Martinez (Kansas City), Richard Scott (Lee’s Summit), Steve Wiederholt (Coach – Kansas City), Mike Martinez (Unified Partner – Kansas City)

Tennis – Brittany Selken (Kansas City), Chris Mueller (Kansas City), Linda Wiederholt (Coach – Kansas City), Connie Mueller (Unified Partner – Kansas City)

Volleyball – Allen Tobin (Kansas City), David Jones (Kansas City), Raymond Bruce (Kansas City), Mark Harris (Kansas City), Lauren White (Coach – Kansas City)

Team Missouri will travel to Lincoln to make some MO Magic, along with 51 other delegations from the United States. More than 3,000 athletes are expected to compete at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the surrounding communities. More than 1,000 coaches are expected and an estimated 8,000 volunteers will be needed.

For Special Olympics athletes, participation in a national event like this means greater self-confidence, a more positive self-image, an enormous amount of pride and the opportunity to create lifelong memories. Standing on the awards stand to receive a medal alongside athletes from all across the nation is truly a moment that they have only dreamed of.

The cost to send Team Missouri to Special Olympics National Games is approximately $165,000. This will cover training, transportation, uniforms, meals, equipment, housing and other costs associated with competition. We are seeking businesses, organizations and individuals who want to “Feel the MO Magic” and support this group of world-class athletes and coaches. Each delegate is trying to raise at least $1,000. Support an athlete from your hometown by visiting www.somo.org/teammissouri, where you can make a donation online through Special Olympics Missouri’s secure system. For more information about fundraising, contact Laurie Shadoan, Shadoan@somo.org or 800.846.2682.

Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes participate in 21 Olympic-type sports throughout the state. Special Olympics provides people with mental disabilities continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with their fellow athletes, their family and friends, and communities across Missouri.

Special Olympics Missouri Athletes To Be Featured During Big 12 Basketball Tournament
WHERE:    Power & Light District, Downtown Kansas City

WHEN:       March 12-14, 2010


  • March 12, 5 pm: Truman Patriots vs. Johnson County Parks & Recreation Rangers will scrimmage on center court at the Big 12 Street Festival outside Sprint Center.
  • March 13, 1 pm: Scrimmage featuring the Blue Springs Powercats on center court at the Big 12 Street Festival outside Sprint Center. 
  • March 14, Halftime of the Big 12 Women’s Championship: Rainbow Center Hoops vs. Olathe Trailblazers will scrimmage at Municipal Auditorium.

Since its inception in 1996, the Big 12 Conference has proudly partnered with Special Olympics and continues to work closely with the statewide Special Olympics organizations.

Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with metal disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes participate in the 21 Olympic-type sports throughout the state. Special Olympics provides people with mental disabilities continuing opportunities to develop fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with other athletes, their families and the community.



(Kansas City) The 6th Annual Polar Plunge on January 30th at Kansas City was a splashing success, raising $165,000 to date. A record 881 brave men and women from around the area donned costumes and swimwear to take a chilly dip into Longview Lake. Their Reason for Freezin’… the athletes of Special Olympics Missouri! 

Online fundraising is still ongoing. Donations can be made at www.somo.org/plunge.

Top individual fundraisers included the following:
1st Place Fundraiser – Sergeant Brian Wilson - $8,700

Top fundraising team, as well as top fundraising school was:
1st Place Fundraiser – Raymore Peculiar High School - $15,000

Top Recruiter:
1st Place – Raymore Peculiar High School - 115

Competition for the Golden Plunger was steep this year. Participants are encouraged to come in costume and compete for the chance to take home the “golden plunger.”
1st Place – Professional Wrestlers - Cupid

This year’s event was held in conjunction with Belton Police Department, Kansas City Police Department, and Lee’s Summit Police Department. Presenting sponsors included Code 3, All Seasons, Bledsoe Rentals, inkkc.com, Lee, and Police Credit Union.

For more information about the Polar Plunge, visit www.somo.org/plunge.

Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes participate in 21 Olympic-type sports throughout the state. Special Olympics provides people with mental disabilities continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with their fellow athletes, their family and friends, and communities across Missouri.
Area Floor Hockey Canceled

After careful consideration, we have chosen to cancel this weekend’s KC Metro Area floor hockey tournament.

We know many of you put in a lot of time preparing, and/or had made time in your schedule to join us.  We apologize for any inconvenience, but please know this decision was reached in the interest of safety and in making sure we don’t offer anything less than a first-class sporting event for our athletes.  We are very disappointed to not be competing, but trust you understand our position. 

There is no makeup date for this event.  Of course, we encourage teams to keep practicing in preparation for Heartland Winter Games later this month.  Also, volunteers, if you’re interested in being a part of HWG on January 21-22, please contact Special Olympics Kansas at 913.236.9290. 

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We can be contacted at 816-789-0332. Thank you for all you do – please enjoy a warm, safe weekend with your families!   


January 9 tournament in Belton will not be played due to weather and road conditions.

Coaches / Volunteers / Fans,

Special Olympics Missouri has made the decision to cancel this Saturday’s KC Metro Area basketball tournament in Belton based on road conditions, snowfall and the weather conditions expected this weekend.

I know many of you put in a lot of time preparing, and/or had made time in your schedule to join us. I apologize for any inconvenience, but please know this decision was reached in the interest of safety and in making sure we maintain a first-class sporting event for our athletes. 

There is no makeup date for area basketball. However, this cancellation does NOT impact your team’s ability to advance to Districts or State.  All teams are welcome and encouraged to participate in our district basketball tournament in Blue Springs on February 6, and we welcome any volunteers or officials to join us then as well. Please contact me if you would like to volunteer and we will connect you with the organizers for that event. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for all you do – please enjoy a warm, safe weekend with your families!  

Always a fan,
Jeremie Ballinger, KC Metro Area Director

KC Metro receives $2000 grant from CVS Caremark
Special Olympics Missouri  announced today that it has received a $2,000  CVS Caremark Community Grant.

 Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) provides year round athletic training and sports comptition to people with mental disabilities. In Kansas City, SOMO hosts over 19 events throughout the year at no cost to its 2,000 plus participants. This grant will help offset the cost of competitions in 2010. 

“We are excited CVS Caremark choose to help our program.” says Emily Schroer, Associate Area Director for SOMO’s KC Metro Area, “Our athletes that participate in our program gain the self-confidence and team skills they need to be active members of their community.”

“CVS Caremark Community Grants are an effective way for us to contribute to the success of communities where we do business,” said Jennifer Veilleux, Director of CVS Caremark Corporation.   “We are proud to support the work that Special Olympics  does in the community.”

The CVS Caremark Community Grant to Special Olympics is part of CVS Caremark’s commitment to its communities throughout the country. Special Olympics was selected to receive a grant through the CVS Caremark Community Grants 2009 grant application process. Grants were awarded to organizations that share a common vision with CVS Caremark’s All Kids Can™ program, which strives to make life easier for children with disabilities. The goal of the program is to create more inclusive environments for children with and without disabilities to build self-esteem, lasting friendships and social skills, and to help children without disabilities learn diversity and tolerance.  

"CVS Caremark is committed to helping children with disabilities learn, play and succeed in life," said Howard Shansky," area vice president, Missouri, CVS/pharmacy. "Through this grant, we are proud to be able to help make an impact on the lives of children in the Greater Kansas City community."


 Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental and developmental disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes in the state, including more than 2,000 KC Metro Area athletes, participate in 20 Olympic-type sports through SOMO.  Special Olympics provides people with mental disabilities continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with their fellow athletes, their family and friends, and communities across Missouri. 

About CVS Caremark All Kids Can

All Kids Can, a program of the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust and CVS Caremark, is a five-year, $25 million commitment to support children with disabilities. The goals of All Kids Can are to support children with disabilities by raising awareness in schools and in local communities about the importance of inclusion, creating greater opportunities for physical activity and play, and providing access to medical rehabilitation and related services. CVS Caremark and its more than 190,000 employees plan to help children with disabilities learn, play and succeed through partnerships with leading local and national nonprofit organizations such as Easter Seals and many others across the country. For more information, visit http://www.cvsallkidscan.com.

Thank you Verizon Wireless

Special Olympics would like to thank Verizon Wireless in Lee's Summit for hosting "Special Olympics Day" on November 28. A percentage of their sales for the day were donated to the KC Metro Special Olympics program. Thank you Vicky Sneed and her store for your donation.

And the savings continues.....

Verizon Wireless (located at the intersection of Woods Chapel and Ralph Powell in Lees Summit) is offering a Special Olympics Volunteer discount to anyone who volunteers for an event. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Jeremie Ballinger (ballinger@somo.org) to sign up.

Thank you Verizon Wireless for all you do!


Miles for Medals -- Huge Success

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 4th Annual Miles for Medals Dice Run August 15. 132 motorcycles and over 200 people from around the community joined together to raise over $11,500 for local athletes.

Congratulations to the following winners from the event:

Highest Roll: Richard Scott Jr.

Lowest Roll: Jim Ferguson

Highest Fundraiser: Brenda Ferguson

Thank you to our Ride Sponsors:

Gail's Harley Davidson, Bikes 2 Trikes, Dr Pickls, Outback Steakhouse, Stables, American Legion, and Knuckleheads.




SexyBack Charity Bootcamp to be held August 22

Join us along with Kri Chay from Sexy Back Boot Camp on Saturday August 22nd  for the first Charity Boot Camp in memory of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics. Come out and support this fat burning, heart pumping, muscle toning workout being held at Brookside Park in Kansas City. Come and "Train for the Trainers."

Everyone is welcome and bring all your friends and have fun while getting in shape!! The event will start at 10:30am and the cost is $15 a person with all proceeds going to Special Olympics. No registration is necessary. Check and cash will be accepted.

Kri will lead the group on a fun, intense workout for beginners and advanced, designed to burn fat 9 times faster than traditional training. You will do various exercises in the park and show you things you have never tried before. You will have your metabolism skyrocketed by doing a complete full body workout that will teach you the type of training that provides the craziest rapid fat loss in minimum time.

Bring a bottle of water, a yoga mat and light hand weights if you have them (5, 8, 10 or 12lbs dumbbells).

If you join us for the charity boot camp and donate $30 or more, Kri will give you a 1-month membership to Sexy Back Boot Camps ($219 savings).

Meet us August 22nd at Brookside Park off Brookside Blvd and 57th St in Kansas City MO for a fun Saturday morning workout. We promise you will have a great time.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Emily Hackman at 913-789-0334 or by email at hackman@somo.org or visit http://www.sexybackbootcamps.com/


Local Athlete Wins Gold at Golf National Invitaional

KC Metro athlete Andrew Martinez, 24, and his father Michael Martinez won gold at the 10th annual Special Olympics Golf National Invitational Tournament, Aug 1-3, in Lincoln Neb.

Andrew and his father shot 42-46-42--130 for the overall lowest score and gold medal winin Level II 9-hole alternative shot team competition. Level II is an alternate shot team play, where a Special Olympics athlete is paired with a non-Special Olympics partner of more advanced skill for a 9-hole competition.

More than 160 golfers from 18 U.S. Special Olympics programs participated in five levels of competition in the Tournament, at the Mahoney Golf Course and Highlands Golf Course. Andrew and Michael will represent Team Missouri at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games next July in Lincoln, Neb.

Special Olympics golf offers five levels of competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics divisions athletes based upon ability, age and gender to provide every athlete with an equal opportunity to excel in the sport.

Gates recognized as Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer

Captain Gates has become an essential part of our local program. He co-chairs our committee for the Broadway Bridge Run. Last year he helped the event grow to over 600 runners and raise over $22,000 for our athletes. When we were a month out of the event, and we did not have as many auction items as we would have liked, he and another officer would walk into businesses across the metro area in search of items. Shortly after the 2008 event concluded, Captain Gates approached us with a possible sponsorship for the 2009 run. He helped work on the relationship and signed the first sponsor for 2009.

His involvement has not stopped with the Broadway Bridge Run. He has made himself available to present awards at local and state events. This year, he participated in the state-wide torch run and helped run the final leg of the Opening Ceremonies at the Summer Games in Springfield, MO.

Gates is very active within his department with the Law Enforcement Torch Run. He attended the International Torch Run Conference on behalf of the Kansas City Police Department and came back with many new ideas. He has taken an interest in helping to building our torch community in Kansas City and helping to recruit new agencies to participate. For our Broadway Bridge Run he took the initiative to organize a Tip a Cop event to go in conjunction with it.

Captain Gates is always willing to help in any way needed. It is our honor and privilege to recognize him as our Area Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer for 2008.

Duvall named Most Outstanding Athlete in Missouri

Danny Duvall is a 41-year-old athlete with Down syndrome. He began competing with Special Olympics Missouri when he first became eligible at age eight. For the last 33 years, Danny has been giving his best when playing our fields and has become an outstanding role model to others. He has always been one of our area’s most recognized and distinguished athletes, but has become even more noteworthy this year.

Over the years, Danny has participated in many sports including floor hockey and powerlifting. This year he was active in basketball, track & field, bocce, golf, softball and bowling. He also advanced to all four state competitions in 2008. Two years ago, Danny took his athletic talent to the national level when he competed for Team Missouri at the Special Olympics National Games. As a bowler, he earned the honor of having the highest game in the competition. His 231 game earned him an article in Special Olympics publications. This year, Danny traveled, for the first time, to Special Olympics’ NIT Golf tournament in Florida where he and his partner won a silver medal.

Danny truly enjoys competing, but is just as proud to be a fan. When teammates compete, he is very supportive and loves to cheer them on. He truly values everyone involved and he will often be seen shaking hands and thanking volunteers for giving their time and talent to the events. He has been honored on the KC Sports Walk of Stars and has been profiled as KMBC-TV’s Special Athlete of the Week. He was also featured on Metro Sports. In 2008, Danny was selected by the Kansas City Sports Commission to receive its Special Athlete Achievement Award.

Danny is an accomplished athlete, but is just as quick to talk about the other great things he has done. He takes pride in his work ethic and has worked at Southeast Enterprises workshop for more than 20 years. He sets a goal to be name Employee of the Month and has received this honor many times, in addition he was named Employee of the Year once. Danny has also become a Eucharistic Minister and Usher at his church. For his contributions to his church and the community, Danny won the Bishop Sullivan Award through Catholic Charities.

Danny credits his parents for his achievements, and appreciates all they have done, from coaching teams, traveling to events and cheering him on, to fundraising for the program. He returns the favor by helping with the mowing, cleaning at home, and helping at dinner time.

Danny Duvall is an inspiration to all the athletes in the area and has also inspired many fans and friends along the way. He is an incredible asset to the program and is already our Outstanding Athlete. SOMO made it official this year by awarding him the 2008 Special Olympics Missouri Outstanding Athlete.

Wiederholt Recognized as Top Special Olympics Volunteer in Missouri

Volunteers are asked to do many jobs in SOMO, to coach, organize events, fundraise and promote. Missouri’s Outstanding Volunteer, Steve Wiederholt, has done all of this and more.

During the day, Steve is a truck driver and often has jobs that take him out of state. He still finds a way to fulfill his commitment to SOMO. If he has a Games Management Team meeting at night, he will make it back in time. If the staff is loading equipment on a Friday before a Saturday event, Steve will turn down a paying job so he can load the equipment and help set up. There are few times when Steve is not the GMT and during these rare times, he usually comes out to volunteer anyway. Even the equipment is grateful for his service; when he saw there was an awards stand that needed attention, he took it home to rebuild and paint it.

Steve does not just go above and beyond for the area. An avid golfer, Steve became head coach for his local program, where he was already a chaperone. His Park Hill team has quickly become the area’s strongest director for golf. He has made the equipment the area needed for the area golf tournament, and recruited golf marshals and volunteers when needed. Steve has also driven out of the area to pick up athletes so they have the chance to compete in the tournament, and has made it possible for athletes to compete nationally. For the last two years, he has coordinated all travel logistics, secured funding, and made time to travel as a Unified Partner for the area’s first-ever entries in the NIT Golf Tournament in Florida.

Steve is truly remarkable through his efforts to help the program statewide. His favorite event is the week-long Sports Camp, where he has been a counselor for years. When he learned that the funding for the camp was mostly provided by an annual golf tournament, he joined the organizing committee for the Dare to Dream event. On tournament day, he is early to set up, pays for teams to participate and does not leave early until the work is done. This tournament is doubled since he became part of the committee.

Steve has taken an interest in the relationship with Knights of Columbus, and actively campaigns in his local council for funding. He has brought other councils to meetings as part of the area’s GMT and lobbies statewide for the Knights to increase their support of Special Olympics. This summer he brought new leadership staff to the softball tournament so they could meet the staff and get involved in the program. Steve has recently suffered from an eye injury that put his truck driving in jeopardy. He looked at it as an excuse to start volunteering for Special Olympics full-time.

Our area is blessed with many amazing volunteers and Steve leads the way doing the work of several people by himself. We can only hope that his passion becomes contagious throughout Special Olympics Missouri and that all of our volunteers can match a portion of his commitment. Every aspect of our program is better due to his involvement, and our area is very proud that he was selected as the 2008 Missouri’s Outstanding Volunteer.

Nelson Receives Outstanding Coach Award

Sheryl Nelson has coached Special Olympics in the KC Metro Area for more than 20 years and we are very pleased to announce her as our Outstanding Coach for the Kansas City Metro Area. 

Sheryl’s coaching career came full circle this year when she moved from the Raytown School District to the Lone Jack School District, where she began her SOMO coaching career in 1987. Sheryl is devoted to her team, and her athletes and their parents are just as loyal to her. When she switched districts every family stayed with her team.

Her teams participate year-round in our program while she receives no compensation. She has also made it tradition for her athletes to attend state competition so they can have that experience.

While many coaches consider their efforts in training athletes to be enough, Sheryl considers fundraising and advocacy to be part of her job with terrific results. No matter the event, you will find Sheryl promoting, selling shirts or raffle tickets or doing anything else needed for the cause. She has even become a two-time participant in the Polar Bear Plunge, which she is not a big fan, but knows it means a lot to our athletes and is willing to make that sacrifice. Sheryl also comes to us often with thoughts about new events and policies we can use to make events better.

Sheryl’s love of her athletes and her ability to develop young people on the field has been remarkable, but she set herself apart this year by mentoring others in our area. Her program trained its first Global Messenger this year. She works with her athletes prior to speeches and gets the family involved in practicing for and participating in these appearances. Sheryl has also gotten her own family involved. Her niece, Jennifer has volunteered for many years and is now an assistant coach for the team, is being trained as a future head coach.

This year Sheryl has become more involved as a leader in our area. For years, she has been a part of the Games Management Teams for softball and basketball, volunteered in the office during free time and also been a liaison to LETR programs in the area. This year, she also accepted a new role as our training/medical chairperson on the Area Management Team. Sheryl has taken this role very seriously and even became certified as a First Aid/CPR instructor so she can conduct clinics for our coaches. Sheryl accepts no pay for these trainings, which allows coaches to be trained for less than half the cost they would otherwise pay. 

Sheryl Nelson has been a fan of Special Olympics for many years, and continues to be a great friend to our athletes. She is always willing to lend a hand, share valuable input to improve our area and even take on new responsibilities to make the experience better for our athletes. We are very proud to consider her part of our family. She is a worthy selection as our 2008 Kansas City Metro Area Outstanding Coach.

Lamar Advertising Receives Outstanding Media Supporter Award


Media support can be measured in many ways. Some outlets tell stories, while others provide awareness and exposure to our program that goes far beyond what happens on fields of play. It is this kind of support that makes Lamar Advertising the 2008 Outstanding Media Supporter in the KC Metro Area.  

Brian Henry and his staff at Lamar have been involved for several years now with Special Olympics, and their level of support has grown considerably each year. Lamar provides free use of its most visible billboards in the Kansas City area to promote the annual Polar Bear Plunge. The first year, they allowed a couple billboards to promote the event. When SOMO called on them to renew those couple billboards, they upped the ante to promote the event on six billboards and then ten the following year. This year Lamar has once again committed all of its digital boards to SOMO and for an additional two weeks to what we have typically run. In the five years of the Polar Bear Plunge in Kansas City, Lamar has stepped up with promotional value in excess of $110,000. 

Obviously their generosity has paid off, as the KC Metro plunge has increased in plungers each year and in 2009 set SOMO records for plungers (978) and revenue ($182,000). Great support from a partner like Lamar Advertising creates priceless opportunities for our athletes, and for that the KC Metro Area selected Lamar as its Outstanding Media Supporter. 

O’Neal’s Receive Outstanding Family Award


The O’Neals are a remarkable family that have made Special Olympics a major part of their lives. We are pleased to share their story as SOMO’s 2008 Outstanding Family.

The O’Neals have been involved in SOMO since Kristina O’Neal became an athlete more than 20 years ago. Kristina plays sports year-round such as basketball, track, bocce, softball, bowling and her new favorite sport, aquatics. She attended Summer Games for the first time in 2008, and committed herself to better health by increasing her training and losing weight to become a better athlete. Most impressive has been Kristina’s development as a Global Messenger for SOMO. She arrived at training with a speech already made and continues to learn and add to her story. Since then she has become a go-to speaker for the KC Metro Area. She participated in the Tropic Thunder demonstration and was selected as a KMBC-TV Special Athlete of the Week. She has done TV interviews to promote SOMO and its fundraisers.

Her father, Cecil and brother, CJ are usually only a few steps away from her at a competition, either as coaches or Unified Partners. When the family’s home was destroyed by flood a couple of years ago, it did not keep them from participating. They still live in the family’s camper as their house is being rebuilt, but continue to work at the same school district as Kristina and do not miss a practice or event regardless of what is going on around them. 

Even though the family has a great passion for Special Olympics, the steady hand driving the O’Neal’s involvement had been Linda O’Neal. She had been a fixture at events as long as Kristina has been active and eventually became her daughter’s coach. Later, Linda increased her role by handling all the paperwork and logistics for the ARC softball and bowling teams. When diagnosed with cancer and even as it progressed to stage four, Linda’s first report to her doctors, church and friends would be the latest medal Kristina had won, not her own condition.   

This past summer, Linda’s doctor advised her that treatment would no longer help and she had one year to live. The family responded with “We’ve got a year, and we’ll make it the best year we can.”  The very next day Cecil and CJ attended coach training, while Linda and Kristina went to Global Messenger Training. A month later, the doctor’s estimate was reduced to 3-6 months and Linda put off a hospital visit to stay home while Cecil and CJ brought Kristina’s softball team to state. Less than a month after that tournament, Linda lost her battle with cancer. At her funeral, many athletes and coaches filed in to pay their respects for all she had meant to them and their teams. Her daughter, Kristina, was there to comfort everyone, assuring them that “Mom is in a better place now” and apologizing to coaches and staff for missing swim practice. 

Kristina now has a goal to make the Team Missouri Aquatics Team for 2010 National Games in her mother’s honor; in spite of recent leg injuries. Cecil and CJ bowled on Kristina’s unified team last fall and are coaching softball this summer. The family plans to engrave Linda’s tombstone with the Special Olympics oath. SOMO has truly been a family affair for the O’Neal family and continues to be a top priority in their lives despite serious challenges and a major loss. 

Belton Receives Outstanding Business Award


Finding support for Special Olympics is not as easy as one might imagine, especially in school districts. While our staff and volunteers understand what it means for our athletes to be involved, educators do not always see the same value. However, we have found a partner in the Belton School District that believes in our mission and what it can do for athletes. They have committed resources to our belief and gone the extra mile in fundraising, which is why Belton has been selected as the 2008 Kansas City Metro Area Outstanding Business / Organization.

We were first introduced to Dr. Sandy Clutter, assistant superintendent for the Belton district, five years ago. She attended a basketball tournament and noticed that our facilities were not quite on par for the first-class event we wanted to have for our athletes. She contacted the area office and offered the district’s facilities to help our program. Since then, our annual tournament has been held in Belton and has grown to include Northwest Area in addition to our own athletes. We now play in outstanding gyms that are configured any way we see fit. Our next tournament will feature seven gyms, which are 100 percent donated to the area. The district provides meeting space for our GMT and recruits students and staff to volunteer and play key roles in the event. Belton has also worked to involve the entire community in the GMT event. This year, they are helping to locate doctors for our first ever MedFest event. The district’s support of this basketball tournament is a model we would love to duplicate at all other events.

In addition, the district has become a very important player in our area fundraising efforts. The Belton High School Student Council participated in our first Polar Bear Plunge. Since then the Plunging Pirates have become a fixture. Last year more than 20 people plunged on behalf of the district. They are three-time winners of our school fundraising contest for the event, and after 2009 we estimate that the district will easily surpass $10,000 in fundraising for our athletes in the past five years. 

The Belton School District is a shining example of how we wish all districts would appreciate, celebrate and support Special Olympics. We are very grateful for their support and recognize them as our 2008 Kansas City Metro Area Outstanding Business / Organization.     

Better Business Bureau's Accreditation in Kansas City

SOMO was awarded the Better Business Bureau’s Accredited Charity Seal and has been recognized in the Better Business Bureau 2009 Summer Wise Giving Guide. 

In order to achieve accreditation from the BBB a charitable organization must meet twenty standards for accountability that include governance and oversight, finance standards and fundraising and informational material standards.  SOMO satisfactorily met all twenty standards!

The BBB offers its guidelines in order to supply prospective donors reliable information when making a decision to donate to a charity.  The BBB then compiles these organizations into a Giving Guide that can be located on the Internet at www.kansascity.bbb.org.

Visit the BBB’s website for more information, and always use the BBB before considering making any charitable donations.  Unfortunately there are too many unscrupulous organizations that are not collecting money for the right reasons, and that is why the BBB Charity Information Service is such an important website.

SOMO takes great pride in being a charity of choice and has worked hard to become a BBB Accredited Charity.  We look forward to continuing to provide our athletes and their family, friends and fans with wonderful opportunities throughout the year!

Broadway Bridge Run Raises over $30,000
Thank you Kansas City and everyone who participated in the 4th Annual Broadway Bridge run held on April 19, 2009.  Although there was some rain and lightening in the morning before the race went underway, things looked brighter when the race began.  There were 770 people who participated in the 5K/10K, raising over $30,000 for Special Olympics athletes here in the Kansas City Metro Area.  The top overall race scores were as follows: 
  • 5K women: Anne Altorfer, 27, with a finish time of 22:10.0
  • 10K women: Heidi Bryant, 33,  with a finish time of 46:10.3    
  • 5K men: Patrick Steffen, 20,  with a time of 19:23.6
  • 10K men: Donald Danner, 47, with a time of 38:29.1

 For a complete listing of race results visit this link.

We would like to give a special thanks to all of our sponsors: Argosy Casino, Kansas City Police Department, City Market, Gary Gribble’s Running Sports, Kauffman the Foundation of Entrepreneurship, Lee Jeans, MAST, Mid-West Terminal, MODOT, American Family Insurance, Radio Disney, Sports Medicine Store and The Missouri Law Enforcement Torch Run.   

Thanks again to those who participated and volunteered with this event. Over 2,000 Special Olympics athletes from the Kansas City Metro area will benefit from the money raised. Next year’s race will be held in April. Stay tuned to www.somo.org for details.

Area Sponsors

  Kansas City Corporate Challenge