News

First-Ever University of Iowa Unified Flag Football Season a Success

By Bryan Coffey

22384046_10155995405387526_5649094252158941992_oSpecial Olympics Iowa (SOIA) and the University of Iowa (UI) Recreational Services Department have collaborated over the past several months to develop a unique and exciting partnership that promotes the Special Olympics Unified Sports component to university students and SOIA athletes.

This partnership has allowed SOIA athletes to compete alongside UI students in a six week Intramural Unified Flag Football Season. On Monday, October 23 the season championship game was held in Kinnick Stadium, where the teams played under the bright stadium lights and were cheered on by the University of Iowa Varsity Cheer Squad.

It was evident during this game that the friendships developed throughout this season were meaningful as the fans in the stands witnessed SOIA athletes and UI Student Partners huddle together to form plays and score touchdowns.22382326_10155995409822526_7965410523128040863_o

“Our first-ever Intramural Unified Flag Football league was a great success. We received great feedback from UI students who participated as partners, as well as the Special Olympics athletes and their families,” says Tommy Schorer, Associate Director, UI Sport Programs. “Great relationships were formed, and the smiles on everyone’s faces were indicative of the great time they were all having. We are excited to be leading the way in the state of Iowa in terms of implementing Unified Sports into our Intramural Sports program, and we hope to see other schools around the state follow our lead. We look forward to expanding to even more sports in the near future.”

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Casey’s General Stores and Coca-Cola raise $98,000 in support of Special Olympics Iowa

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Casey’s General Stores throughout Iowa helped raise funds for Special Olympics Iowa this June with the Casey’s Promotion. Stores, in partnership with Coca-Cola, sold $1 pin-ups with proceeds being donated to Special Olympics as well as a percentage of sales from 44 oz. fountain drinks featuring Special Olympics athletes being donated to the nonprofit.

Over 14,000 athletes in Iowa will benefit from this fundraiser, which raised over $98,000. “Casey’s has continuously shown their generous support of our athletes and Unified Partners as they’ve helped us raise not just funds, but awareness for our organization,” says Special Olympics Iowa President and CEO Rich Fellingham. “We are proud to call Casey’s General Stores one of our Champion Statewide Partners.”

The company’s values are rooted in a sense of belonging to the communities in which it operates, which aligns with Special Olympics’ vision of inclusion for all athletes. Together throughout Iowa, the Casey’s Promotion raises awareness about different abilities and helps foster growth for our programs.

Special Olympics Iowa would like to give their sincerest appreciation for Casey’s and Coca-Cola for their generous donation and support.

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SOIA now accepting applications for first Unified Champion Schools Scholarship

20140918_120810Special Olympics Iowa is offering an opportunity to graduating high school seniors who are involved in any Iowa Unified Champion Schools (UCS) program.

Teacher liaisons from Unified Champion Schools in Iowa may nominate a graduating senior to win one of two $250 scholarships. If your school is not currently a Unified Champion School, please contact Bryan Coffey bcoffey@soiowa.org to learn more.

Nomination Process:
School Liaison:
– Select one graduating senior to nominate for the scholarship
– Write a 200 word (1/2 page) nomination letter explaining why you think this student would be a good candidate for this award
Student:
– Must be pursuing a higher level of education during the 2018-2019 school year.
– Write a 300-400 word (1½ pages MAX) letter detailing the following:

  • Name
  • Number of years involved with Special Olympics programs
  • Special Olympics programs and activities the student has participated in
  • Any leadership roles the student has held within the UCS club
  • Most gratifying moment of being involved

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Meet Team Iowa: Cedar Rapids Flag Football Team

By Stephanie Kocer

When fall brings cooler weather and changing colors it can only mean one thing; football season. The Special Olympics flag football team from Cedar Rapids has been preparing for their season for weeks, but it won’t end after Special Olympics Iowa’s Flag Football is over in October.

The team will continue to practice every week into next July to prepare for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington, where they’ll represent Iowa as they compete against other flag football teams for the gold.

From July 1-6, 2018 – more than 4,000 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will gather in Seattle to compete before tens of thousands of spectators and volunteers. The 2018 USA Games will showcase the limitless talents of people with intellectual disabilities while promoting the barrier-breaking power of sport to promote inclusion and acceptance. Among those 4,000 athletes and coaches will be 34 Iowa athletes, who will compete in athletics, flag football, powerlifting, swimming, tennis, Unified bocce and Unified bowling.

IMG_0934To ready themselves for USA Games, the football team is focusing on perfecting their plays and building their relationships with teammates. “I’m looking forward to good sportsmanship. If you make mistakes, you make mistakes,” says athlete Paul White. He and his brother, Robbie, will be going to USA Games for the first time with the football team. They’re excited to have the opportunity to play on a national scale. “We’re going to cheer on other teams when we’re not playing and we’re going to be excited to play,” says Paul.

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Meet New SOIA Volunteer Director Elin Phipps

Elin EditSpecial Olympics Iowa would like to introduce its new Volunteer Director Elin Phipps!

Before taking on the full-time position of Volunteer Director, Phipps was a volunteer coordinator intern with SOIA, helping with volunteers for Summer Games. Originally from Boone, Iowa, Phipps attended Central College where she majored in Communication Studies- Mass Communication & Journalism. She also ran track and cross country for the Central Dutch.

During college Phipps worked with several nonprofits, including Young Life, and volunteered with Amanda the Panda and Kiwanis Miracle Baseball League. She has also had several jobs relating to athletics such as being a swim instructor and life guard.

Phipps is excited to start working with the athletes of SOIA. “By far the most exciting aspect I am looking forward to at Special Olympics Iowa is working with the athletes at events and getting to know them personally.  I am also eager to learn more about how Special Olympics impacts persons with special needs all over the world.”

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Dubuque Challenge Day Returns to SOIA Lineup

Special Olympics Iowa is excited to announce the Dubuque Challenge Day will return this year to Loras College in Dubuque. The Challenge Day will take place at the college’s Activity and Wellness Center on Friday, October 20, 2017. The day will kick-off with an opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m., with sports activities starting at 10:00 a.m. IMG_2340

Challenge Days are a one-day event designed specifically for the severe and profound population of Iowa as well as our aging population. Because of the need to offer more activities for these individuals, it has been a goal of Special Olympics Iowa to give these athletes opportunities to compete in activities that mirror the 23 Olympic-style sports SOIA offers. 

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Firefighters’ Ball to Benefit Special Olympics Iowa

On Friday, November 10, Johnston-Grimes Metropolitan Fire Department Association and Johnston Professional Firefighters Local 4835 will host the annaul Firefighters’ Ball at Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston. Special Olympics Iowa is one of three charities chosen to receive proceeds from the event.

The charitable evening will feature hors d’oeuvres, special guests, a cash bar, dancing, silent auction, raffles and a photo booth.

The event cost is $40 per person or $70 per couple. Tickets are limited to 300 guests and are available to the public until Friday, October 20.

To purchase tickets please contact Ginger at jgmfdfirefightersball@gmail.com or 515-276-5182.

Event Poster

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2017 Global Messenger Workshop to Take Place December 1-2

By: Wendy Olinger
IMG_8586The Global Messenger Workshop will be December 1-2, 2017 at the state office in Grimes.
This workshop is for athletes who are interested in becoming a Global Messenger or for those Junior and Senior Global Messengers who would like to mentor new Global Messengers and build their confidence to give a speech. Each athlete will need a speech coach to help the athlete organize their thoughts and experiences about Special Olympics as well as put their personal stories and feelings on paper.

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Team Helps Victims of Hurricane Harvey

IMG_2979When Hurricane Harvey hit last month Alicia Porter knew she couldn’t sit on the sidelines and watch. The Special Olympics Iowa coach had an important connection to Houston; her assistant coach, Barb Hottman is originally from the city.

Hottman, a former special education teacher from Houston has a daughter living in Houston and she immediately wanted to go and see firsthand how her and all of her friends were really doing.

“Through phone calls we began to realize that these people were living on cans of soup and even K-rations. We knew that she [Hottman] could not go empty-handed,” Porter said. Team Porter began reaching out to close friends and relatives, asking for donations of food and paper supplies.  With an outpouring of support, a thousand dollars worth of food and supplies were donated and sent with Hottman to bring to Houston.

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