News

Ankeny Play Day and Its Impact

By Chelsey Kimmel-Kendrick 

More than 425 young children came together to participate in several sports for the Ankeny Play Day on Thursday, April 20 at Ankeny Centennial High School. This is one of many events that is sponsored by one of Special Olympics Iowa’s Premier Statewide Partners, Sammons Financial Group.

Play Days are events where children between the ages of two and seven with intellectual disabilities can play activities and have socialization opportunities. Since athletes cannot participate in Special Olympics events until they’re eight years old, these days were created for those to participate in a more formal setting.IMG_2855

Mary Buscher, human resources consultant for Sammons, says nearly 80 employees from the organization signed up to volunteer for the event. She said Play Days are an event where people do it once and then get hooked.

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Iowa State Greek Community Raises Over $377,000 for SOIA

SpecOlymIA-685On Saturday, April 1 the Iowa State University Greek Community and SOIA hosted the 21st annual Ames Greek Polar Plunge.

 

The ISU Greek Community were the sole participants in the Plunge as part of their annual Greek Week. This year the Greeks raised over $377,132.94, a record high for the single largest one-day fundraising event for Special Olympics Iowa. Participants jumped into an above ground 8,500 gallon pool located on the west side of Memorial Union on the ISU campus.

 

Because of the wonderful effort of the students, the ISU Greek Community is now officially a Champion Statewide Partner for Special Olympics Iowa.

 

Thank you to everyone who donated, supported, and assisted with this event!

 

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2017 Drake University Unified Sports Day to take place May 4

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By Chelsey Kimmel-Kendrick 

Special Olympics Iowa’s 23rd annual Drake Unified Sports Day will be taking place on Thursday, May 4 at Drake University in the Knapp Center, where people with and without intellectual disabilities are joined together to compete on the same team.

Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition, Unified Sports creates teams that are made up of similar ages and abilities. The teams are made up of approximately an equal number of Special Olympic athletes and athletes without intellectual or mental disabilities; these are called partners. The idea behind Unified Sports is to eliminate the preconceived notions and false impressions of Special Olympics athletes.

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Join SOIA at the 2017 Summer Games!

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By: Chelsey Kimmel-Kendrick

Special Olympics Iowa’s 33rd annual Summer Games is a three-day event with more than 2,600 athletes and over 2,000 volunteers. The event consists of several sports including swimming, track and field, bocce, tennis, cycling, soccer and skills games. However, athletes can only participate in one sport per day.

Summer Games will take place on May 25-27. Registration is due by April 1 for the bocce, cycling, soccer and tennis competitions, and April 24 for swimming and athletics (track and field).

The Summer Games will be kicked off with the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg, which brings the symbolic Flame of Hope Torch from downtown Des Moines to Iowa State University’s Hilton Coliseum for the Opening Ceremonies, presented by Hy-Vee. More than 500 law enforcement officers from all around Iowa have participated in the past by running, walking and biking routes, as they head to the big event in Ames. The officers hand the torch to an athlete who lights the flame, which begins the biggest SOIA competition of the year!

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Farm Bureau Becomes SOIA Statewide Partner

iowa_farm_bureau_vert_color_highres-220x94We are happy to announce that the Iowa Farm Bureau has become a Premier Statewide Partner with Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA)!

Farm Bureau has always supported SOIA — not only through generous gifts, but also through committed volunteer efforts from employees volunteering at SOIA events. For many years, team members from Farm Bureau have created relationships with athletes and managed events during Summer Games, participated in Unified volleyball, and joined us in many other volunteer opportunities.

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MACC Foundation’s Annual 5K Fun Run to Benefit SOIA

Martial Artists for Children and Community will host their annual 5k Fun Run on Saturday, May 13 in Grimes. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Special Olympics Iowa.running1

MACC is a 501c3 non-profit organization closely affiliated with Martial Arts America Tae Kwon Do school in Ankeny, Iowa. This organization is designed to provide assistance to the children and community through charity and donation of resources, people and time.

The run will start at the Grimes Community Complex, where parking and vendors will be located. The race will begin at 8 a.m. Registration is open online NOW for $35. If you register and pay online by April 29 you’ll receive a free event T-shirt. Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. the day of the event for those who have not pre-registered online.

Questions? Contact MACC Vice President Alex Bishop at bishopa9311@hotmail.com.

REGISTER NOW

 

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FREE Iowa State Football Game on April 8

On Saturday, April 8 Iowa State University will hold its annual free spring football game. SOIA athletes and family and friends are invited to attend the game and be a part of a Special Olympics section! The athlete section is being sponsored by Learfield Sports and SOIA Statewide Sponsor UnitedHealthcare.

 

SOIA will be seated in section 25. There will be signage to find the Special Olympics section in the stands. Guests are encouraged to park on the south side of the stadium (S2/S3) and can take the general public elevator up to the East Concourse.

 

No tickets are needed for this event. There will be wheelchair accessible seating.

 

What: Iowa State Spring Football Game
Who: SOIA Athletes, Families & Friends
When: Saturday, April 8, 2017
Time: Gates open at noon, game begins at 1 p.m.
Where: Jack Trice Stadium, ISU Campus

 

Details below. Call the state office at 515-986-5520 with questions or email Stephanie Kocer at skocer@soiowa.org.

 

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Dee Sturgeon Receives Jefferson Award for Public Service

By: Chelsey Kimmel-Kendrick

“I’m a real humble person,” a line Dee Sturgeon knows all too well. She has been a volunteer for more than 25 years as an events coordinator for American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event, and has been a coach for Special Olympics Iowa for more than 30 years. Sturgeon doesn’t do it for the recognition though. She does it to inspire others.

“I have the time,” she says. “I just think that it’s the right thing to do; Volunteers can inspire others to do it.”

And that she did. Sturgeon is also an instructional assistant for students with special needs, in addition to her volunteer work. She says her classroom kids were motivated by her work. For their middle school Spread the Word to End the Word® campaign, they offered to help. Some of the kids volunteered to make PSAs to inform the media about the event; others wrote speeches to share — all of which, Sturgeon says, were attributed to her volunteerism.

“It’s kind of cool to see the kids get involved because I get involved,” she says.

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SOIA Athlete Headed to World Winter Games

By: Chelsey Kimmel-Kendrick

Tabitha Darnell was named an outstanding Olympic Athlete of the Year in 2008, was named a Big 12 Special Olympian of the Year in 2009, and has received many ribbons and medals since she started participating in the Special Olympics at age eight. Now, she’s 36 years old, and she’s headed to the World Winter Games in Austria.TabithaSki

The World Games are an international competition where Special Olympic athletes from more than 170 countries participate. The Winter Games include skiing, skating, snowboarding, snowshoeing, floor hockey, floorball and stick shooting. This year’s event will be taking place in March in three locations in Austria: Graz, Schladming and Ramsau. Davenport’s Darnell will be skiing like she has since she was 13 years old. She will not only be representing Iowa, but Team USA as well. This isn’t Darnell’s first World Games event. She went to Dublin, Ireland in 2003.

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Sign Up for the Annual SOIA Youth Games TODAY!

On Saturday, April 22, young athletes are invited to participate in the annual SOIA Youth Games at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with participant registration starting at 9:30 a.m. that day. All events will be held in the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Recreation Fields. Youth Games are free of cost and each athlete will receive lunch at the event and a T-shirt.

Sports instruction and competition is limited to youth ages 6 to 21 years of age with intellectual disabilities. Participants will choose between track & field, basketball, and soccer and spend the day learning and mastering the skills of that sport!

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