Articles from February 2016

Mid-Winter Tournament Set for March 11-12 in Iowa City

mid-winter-bball-skills-shootMore than 1,000 Special Olympics Iowa athletes and Unified Sports partners from across Iowa are set to compete in the annual Mid-Winter Tournament to be held March 11-12 in Iowa City. The event is made possible with the help of more than 350 volunteers from across the state.

Powerlifting, team basketball (3-on-3 and 5-on-5) and gymnastics competitions will be held at the University of Iowa Field House, while Iowa City West High School will host cheerleading, dance and basketball skills. Competition begins at 9 a.m. March 12. A Healthy Athletes session will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Iowa City West High School.

The Opening Ceremony will take place March 11 at 6 p.m. along with a banquet and dance at the Coralville Marriott Exhibit Hall.

Tentative Schedule of Events

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Spread the Word to End the Word at Iowa State Capitol March 1

spread-the-word-logoSpecial Olympics Iowa will be hosting Spread the Word to End the Word Day March 1 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Iowa State Capitol first floor rotunda. Spread the Word to End the Word is a national campaign to help make a stand against a word that has gained popularity in culture, but is offensive to many. The “R-word” has found a place in common language and seems to be accepted by most., despite the fact that its use, casual or otherwise, is hurtful to millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those that love them.

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Kim Lively Named Special Olympics Big 12 Conference Athlete of the Year

kim-livelyCourtesy of

The Big 12 Conference has announced the 2015-16 Special Olympics Athletes of the Year. This year’s winners are Kim Lively of Ames, Iowa, and Cody Pierce of Pittsburg , Kan.

Each season, the Big 12, in conjunction with select Special Olympics affiliate offices, identifies a male and female athlete who exemplify the tenants of Special Olympics. The two recipients and members of their family are invited to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship for an on-court presentation during the title game.

Kim Lively has been a self-proclaimed “Iowa State Cyclone fan” since she was a little girl. She has participated in Special Olympics events for over 20 years, specializing in softball and golf. Lively has won numerous medals in both, as well as track, bowling and bocce ball. She won three gold medals while competing for the first time in the state of Iowa Special Olympics Games.

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Dine to Donate for SOIA at Granite City Feb. 17

Granite City will be donating a portion of its sales to Special Olympics Iowa on Feb. 17!

Visit one of the three Granite City locations in Iowa – Cedar Rapids, Clive or Davenport– on Feb. 17, show your server our flyer and 20% of your total tab will be donated to Special Olympics Iowa!

Can’t stay for a meal? To go orders are included, too!


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Kliegl, Johnson Join SOIA State Office

The Special Olympics Iowa state office welcomes John Kliegl and Jeremiah Johnson to the SOIA family. Kliegl has been named the vice president of development and will start his new role on Feb. 15. Johnson has been named director of financial services after acting in an interim role for six months prior to officially joining the SOIA staff in January.

staff-johnkKliegl will lead SOIA’s development team and fundraising activities. Prior to joining the SOIA staff, Kliegl was the state director of Best Buddies Iowa for three years and, spending the prior year as director of development at the organization. At Best Buddies, Kliegl exceeded revenue goals, acquired the state office’s largest single-donor gift, increased partnering schools and expanded the organization to include middle schools and anti-bullying education. His daughter, Abbie, is a long-time Special Olympics athlete.

staff-jeremiahJohnson will direct human resources, centralized accounting and payroll at the state office. Johnson has been a licensed certified public accountant since 2008 and earned his BA in accounting from Grand View University in 2006. He has held previous accounting and financial positions at Willis Auto Campus, The Iowa Air National Guard and Wells Fargo. He is also a current member of the 132nd Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard in Des Moines. His military education includes Airman Leadership School and the Air Force Non Commissioned Officer Academy.

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Miss Teen of America Joins SOIA at Capitol Hill Day

news-miss-teen-of-america2Ambassadors from Special Olympics Iowa will be meeting with legislators in Washington, D.C. on Wed., Feb 10 for Capitol Hill Day. Athlete Corey Leonhard, CEO Gary Harms and Delegation Manager Jason Miller will be joined by Miss Teen of America Corrie Hayes to advocate for support of the life-changing work Special Olympics does in our state.

Since it was passed in 2004, the Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act has provided the financial means to help  improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through its support for global sports and related programming, as well as social and recreational programs. Specifically, this legislation authorizes the use of funds for specific programs which directly impact Special Olympics athletes in matters relating to health, education and global program initiatives. Each year, Special Olympics urges members of Congress to continue a national commitment to the Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act.

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FIT Focus: March to Summer Games

FIT-logo-verticalAs a continuation of the FIT Program and the goal of helping Special Olympic athletes build healthy habits, March to Summer Games will begin March 1 and will include 250 participants. March to Summer Games is a walking club that allows Special Olympics athletes and Unified Partners opportunities to build a habit of moving and becoming more active. It is a flexible program through Special Olympics Iowa that should be easy to maintain.

Each club will meet at least once per week (or more if desired) to walk. Miles will be added up and used in a competition format where Special Olympics athletes and teams with the highest average miles will receive awards at Summer Games. The FIT Program pre- and post-assessments will be done to record fitness improvement.  The 11-week program will begin March 1 and end May 15.  If you are interested in March to Summer Games contact Bruce Wilson or Stephanie Boylan

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More Than an Athlete – Bates Stays Involved On and Off the Court

Bran Bates (middle wearing the cap) loves being involved in all aspects of SOIA.

Bran Bates (middle wearing the cap) loves being involved in all aspects of SOIA.

By SOIA Intern Katie Baum

Special Olympics Iowa has given its athletes countless opportunities and memories since its beginning in 1968 thanks to our dedicated volunteers, staffs, families and friends. Brian Bates, Iowa City Special Olympics athlete, is not only a dedicated athlete, he also serves as a volunteer when he is not competing.

Nearly 30 years ago, Brian was a student at Washington High School in Washington, Iowa, when he first heard about Special Olympics. This excited him and led him to join the Special Olympics swim team through his school.

Two years after his high school graduation, he moved to Iowa City. About a year after his move, he learned that a Special Olympics program was starting in the area. He really missed the competition from high school so he decided to join.

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