News

Staff Column: SOIA Holds First Unified Champion Schools Youth Summit

By Bryan Coffey, Director of Unified Sports and Volunteers

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On June 5, 2017, Special Olympics Iowa hosted its first-ever Unified Champion Schools Youth Summit. This was an exciting opportunity for student youth leadership teams to interact with other student leaders from around the state of Iowa. Our main objective for the 2017 Youth Summit was to help students to excel in leadership roles within their schools.

Four Iowa high schools brought students to participate in this program. These schools each represented different regions of our state, which encouraged great conversations and learning opportunities. The schools were:

  • Ankeny Centennial High School (West Central Region)
  • Spencer High School (North Region)
  • Wayne Community High School ( South Central Region)
  • Western Dubuque High school ( East Region)

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Meet Wendy Olinger: New Director of Athlete Initiatives

Wendy2Special Olympics Iowa is excited to introduce its new Director of Athlete Initiatives, Wendy Olinger.

Wendy has been a supporter of Special Olympics for 23 years. She has served as a volunteer and coach in the areas of bowling, basketball, skiing, swimming, track/field, cheerleading, cycling, Challenge Days and golf. She is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, where she studied special education. She also has a master’s degree in deaf education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before coming to SOIA, Olinger worked as a severe and profound special education teacher in Marshalltown, Iowa for 13 years. Olinger has also worked at various day camps and respite camps for individuals with disabilities across the state of Iowa.

As Director of Athlete Initiatives, Olinger will be responsible for Special Programs like Play Days, Challenge Days and Healthy Athletes. She will also be working closely with SOIA Global Messengers, helping them write speeches and be leaders in the community. 

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Athlete Competes in 2017 Principal Charity Classic

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For the third year in a row, Special Olympics Iowa athlete Brian Rolek was asked to take part in the Principal Charity Classic . On Tuesday, June 6 Rolek tee’d off for a fun round of golf with some special guests during the Pro-Am portion of the Classic. A Pro-Am takes place before the professional event and joins ordinary golfers on a team with a PGA Tour golfer. This year Rolek teamed up with pro Rod Spittle.

When he’s not golfing and participating in other SOIA sports, Rolek works full-time at the YMCA, enjoys hunting with his brothers, and often volunteers at Special Olympics fundraisers.

Rolek says he had a great time golfing at the event. Congratulations on a great day of golf, Brian!

 

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Special Olympics Founder to be Honored at The 2017 ESPYS

From Special Olympics North America

18920334_10156388605263782_4870732662088496858_nEunice Kennedy Shriver dedicated her life to championing the rights and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities. Her legacy lives on through Special Olympics, the global movement she founded in 1968 that harnesses the transformative power of sports to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and celebrated members of society.

A Visionary and a Revolutionary

To honor her work and her creation of Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver will be posthumously honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at The 25th ESPYS Presented by Capital One on Wednesday, July 12.Timothy Shriver, one of Shriver’s five children and Chairman of Special Olympics, will accept the award on her behalf. The award is sponsored by Cadillac.

“My mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was a visionary, but, more importantly, a revolutionary,” said Timothy Shriver on behalf of the Shriver family and Special Olympics. “Fueled by love and anger, she used sport to break down the barriers, she used fields of play to bring people together, and she opened the doors of inclusion and equality to the most marginalized on Earth. It is now up to all of us to follow the athletes of Special Olympics who can teach us all to accept and include each other.”

Shriver grew up as a member of the Kennedy Family alongside her sister, Rosemary, who had intellectual disabilities. Rosemary’s talents and gifts made Shriver acutely aware of all that people with intellectual disabilities have to offer, but she recognized early on that there were limited programs and options for people like her sister. The pair bonded through sports like football, skiing and sailing, and Shriver appreciated the role sports play in unifying people from all walks of life.

The idea started in 1962 as Camp Shriver, as a summer day camp in the backyard of her Maryland farm. Camp Shriver grew and eventually evolved into Special Olympics, with the first International Special Olympics Games taking place in 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, welcoming 1,000 athletes from 26 states and Canada to compete. Today, Special Olympics is year-round, includes 5.3 million athletes in more than 170 countries, and over 1 million coaches and volunteers, delivering 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 108,000 competitions throughout the year. Read More

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Des Moines Register Honors SOIA Elite Athletes

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During the 2017 Summer Games the Des Moines Register announced its Special Olympics All-Iowa Elite Athletes Team for the year.

The All-Iowa Elite team is made up of three male and three female athletes, as well as three pairs of Unified Sports partners for a total of 12 members. Special Olympics athletes were chosen for the team based on nominations written by coaches, delegation managers, teachers and area directors. The athletes chosen to be a part of the team represent the spirit of the Special Olympics Iowa movement and have gone above and beyond to show their dedication to sport and sportsmanship. They represent SOIA in competitions, service to their fellow athletes, and leadership within the organization and their community.

SOIA athletes were recognized at the Summer Games Opening Ceremonies and will again be recognized at the Register’s Sports Awards ceremony on June 24 at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines. Athletes will receive a free ticket to the event, which is headlined by celebrity speaker Shaquille O’Neal.

General admission tickets are available for the event.

 

Meet the 2017 Special Olympics Elite Athletes! 

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2017 Summer Games Award Winners

Special Olympics Iowa honored its Outstanding Athlete, Coach and Family of the Year award winners during the Summer Games Opening Ceremonies presented by Hy-Vee May 25 at Iowa State University’s Hilton Coliseum. The Scott Bryant Unsung Hero Award was also presented to recognize an individual dedicated to the Law Enforcement Torch Run program. 

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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 2,500 athletes and over 1,500 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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Special Olympics Night at Iowa Barnstormers Game June 17

On Saturday, June 17, 2017 the Iowa Barnstormers will be hosting the Sioux Falls Storm for their regular season finale. The Iowa Barnstormers are offering discounted tickets to any Special Olympians and their families for a fun night of Barnstormers football! Discounted tickets are only available for purchase at this link or by calling Chase Kruckemeyer at 515-564-8458.

This discount is NOT available for walk ups the day of the game. If you have any questions call 515-564-8458 for more details.

Pricing:
200 Ends/ 200 Sides: $11

Tickets ordered after June 10 will be available for pick up in the Iowa Barnstormers front office the week prior to the game or at Will Call located at the Wells Fargo Arena ticket office the night of the game.

We look forward to seeing you at the game!

MORE INFO

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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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