Articles in Athletes

Third Annual Night to Shine Prom Coming to Iowa

By: Chelsey Kimmel-Kendrick 

For one night, it’s YOUR time to shine! Night to Shine is an event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation that slowly began in 2015 as a way to connect thousands of guests with mental and intellectual disabilities simultaneously for a special prom celebration. Now, there are 11 countries and over 350 churches joining in.

On February 3 you can join in on the dance at one of five churches in Iowa to host the event. This worldwide event is for people with disabilities who are ages 16 to 99. The night is filled with fun from dancing, paparazzi and even a red carpet. Students from the Iowa School of Beauty help out to make everyone look spectacular for the special night. They help the ladies with their hair and makeup, and help shine the gentlemen’s shoes. The churches also have limousines and decorated Link buses to help transport people to and from the locations.

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Basketball Skills Venue Change for Mid-Winter Tournament

There has been a venue change for the Special Olympics Iowa Mid-Winter Tournament, March 10-11 in Iowa City.

Basketball skills will now be conducted in the Main Gym of Iowa City High School located at 1900 Morningside Drive. 

Please make sure your athletes are in the staging area, in the auxiliary gym at Iowa City High School, at the appropriate time for their competition with their name tags on the front of their shirts.

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Staff Column: New Cheerleading and Dance Rules for Mid-Winter Tournament

As we get ready for another Mid-Winter Tournament, I would like to touch base with you on the Cheerleading and Dance Competition. My name is Katie Rasmussen and I am one of the venue directors for the Cheerleading and Dance competition that DSCN2974takes place at the Mid-Winter Tournament in March. We have completely revised our Cheerleading and Dance manual that you can locate on our website here.

All Special Olympics Iowa Cheerleading and Dance competitions will be ran according to the rules and regulations in this manual.

Here are some helpful reminders to keep in mind for cheerleading:

  • No music is allowed
  • Time limit: 3 minutes
    • This includes changes in props, signs, etc.
  • A squad or individual must perform two different cheers
  • No more than 16 athletes are allowed on a squad
  • Two coaches will be allowed to coach in the coaches box
  • Divisioning will be based on ability, squad size and age (please see below for clarification)

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SOIA Night With the Bulldogs

Drake LogoOn Tuesday, February 7 Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA) athletes, family and friends are invited to attend the Drake University Men’s Basketball game against Illinois State. The game begins at 7 p.m. at the Knapp Center on Drake’s campus.

To purchase tickets to the game, go to and enter the promo code “Olympics.” Tickets are $5 each. There is a processing fee of $1 per ticket order.

Tickets will also be sold at

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2017 Summer Games Team Bocce Quota Request Form

The State Office is in the process of organizing the 2017 Summer Games Bocce Tournament. To fairly allocate the 110 team slots available for bocce please let us know the maximum number of teams your delegation would like to have in the tournament. Competition will be held outside, east of the Maple-Willow-Larch Dorms to provide more space for competition. The team tournament will be held on May 25 while the singles tournament will be held on May 26.

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2017 Winter Games a Success in Dubuque

Winter Games Web Photos (4)2Special Olympics Iowa’s 31st annual Winter Games happened in Dubuque on January 9th and 10th. Athletes from across the state competed in winter sports like figure skating, speed skating, Alpine skiing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

Along with the two days of competition, athletes also enjoyed an Opening Ceremony, banquet, dance, scarf exchange, and pool party at the Grand Harbor Resort & Waterpark.  

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Staff Column: Kathy Irving Reflects on 27 Years with SOIA

staff-kathyI remember the very first time I attended a Special Olympics Iowa event. I had signed myself up, along with my two children, to be volunteers at the State Summer Games in Ames. This was when we were using an outdoor track at ISU. As we walked toward the track, we continually had athletes come up to us telling us they were there to compete or to ask us what we were there for. We heard nothing but positives about how hard they had worked, how much fun they were having, and that we could be their friend. I was hooked before I ever got started.

Little did I know what they meant by the word friend. For eight years, we kept coming back. Every year I made more “new friends.” I ran the 50 meter dash and worked the relay races on Saturday. Later I became a member of the Summer Games Steering Committee. I was amazed at how much work went into just putting together the Summer Games. I couldn’t get enough of Special Olympics. I dreamed of working for them full time, but in reality, I knew the odds were slim.

But one Saturday morning at the State Summer Games, the CEO at that time, Bob Ligouri, was standing beside me as a race was going on. I was my usual obnoxious self, screaming at my new friends to keep up the good work. When the race was over, he asked me if I had ever thought about switching careers. I looked at him, very puzzled as to why he would ask that. He then asked me, “How would you like to work for Special Olympics Iowa?” I told him I dreamed of working for them, but knew I wouldn’t qualify. He said yes you would and asked me to meet with him and Pam Wagner the following Monday. On Monday morning he offered me the job, and I said yes.

Thus began the most wonderful 27 years of my life.

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31st Annual Winter Games Coming to Dubuque

_dsc0174-800x532Over 300 athletes from across the state are set to compete in the 2017 Special Olympics Iowa Winter Games January 9-10 in Dubuque. More than 130 coaches and chaperones, as well as 150 volunteers, will donate their time to serve the athletes and make the event a success.

Children and adult athletes of all abilities will participate in sports like Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, short track speed skating and figure skating. The Grand Harbor Center, Sundown Mountain, Albrecht Acres and Mystique Community Ice Center will host the competitions and activities.

“Our athletes are very excited to showcase their skills and abilities at the Winter Games,” said SOIA Director of Sports & Advanced Competitions, Rhonda Schwarzkopf. “Their dedication is amazing to watch. Winter Games would not be possible without the support and commitment of athletes’ families, coaches and our volunteers.”

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2018 Special Olympics USA Games Information

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be held in Seattle, WA July 1-6. Special Olympics Iowa is now accepting general applications for both athletes and coaches.


Athletes and coaches interested in applying for the  USA Games are to submit completed applications to by 06/01/2017.


Please direct any questions regarding the USA Games to Rhonda Schwarzkopf at


2018 Special Olympics USA Games Application
Fillable PDF | Word
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Underwood Schools Promote Inclusion With New Delegation



Special Olympics Iowa is always proud to have new delegations starting up across the state. Whether they’re big or small, beginners or experts, they add another voice for SOIA and all of our athletes.

And sometimes small can be mighty. That’s what Jolene Whitmore thought when she came to Underwood Community Schools in Underwood, Iowa three years ago. She noticed that something was missing at her new job. “When I came here I started in a more self-contained classroom and started asking why there wasn’t a Special Olympics,” says Whitmore. “I had come from West Harrison where they had a big Special Olympics following. I thought OK, we need to change this. We need a Special Olympics team.”

So Whitmore and another teacher decided to start a delegation at Underwood, making Whitmore the Delegation Manager and head coach. The Underwood team currently has four athletes, but that small number doesn’t stop them from competing at the highest levels. Just this fall they had a student compete in State Bowling, where they came in first place. 

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