Articles from December 2016

Casey’s Cup Campaign raises over $39,000 for Special Olympics Iowa

img_1062-800x533Casey’s General Stores throughout Iowa helped raise funds for Special Olympics Iowa this summer with the Casey’s Cup Campaign. Starting May 19 just in time for the SOIA Summer Games and running through Labor Day, they showcased athletes and law enforcement officials on their 44 ounce cups, with a portion of the proceeds from the cups sold going toward Special Olympics Iowa.

Casey’s General Store also supports Special Olympics Iowa athletes by providing financial support through Law Enforcement Torch Run® signature fundraisers, including the annual Truck Convoy, a golf tournament and much more. As a Premier Statewide Partner, Casey’s General Store has provided approximately $87,000 over the years to directly benefit Special Olympics Iowa athletes across the state.

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Kwik Star to Sell Polar Plunge Icons

kwik-star-color-logoStarting November 11th and running through November 24th, Kwik Star stores across Iowa will sell Polar Plunge icons in support of Special Olympics Iowa.

Customers can purchase a paper icon for just $1 each, sign their names on the icon and display them in their local Kwik Star to show support of our athletes during Plunge season.

Kwik Star has been a longtime supporter of Special Olympics Iowa. They are a Premier Statewide Partner and each year for two weeks, every Kwik Star in the state of Iowa sells Polar Plunge icons. Kwik Star employees also support our local programs and employ our athletes. Statewide campaigns such as this increase the awareness of the Special Olympics movement.

Visit your local Kwik Star store to purchase an icon and thank the Kwik Star team for supporting SOIA athletes.

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SOIA Play Days Help Young Athletes Discover the Joy of Sports

By: Julie Berns, SOIA athlete parent

When I first heard about Special Olympics Play Day for Young Athletes my daughter, Claire, was only three. I was skeptical. Claire was just a baby. She hung out with me at home and running errands, she wasn’t involved in any structured sport. She has always been small for her age, even compared to other children with Down Syndrome, how would she compete?photo1

Being tiny has never slowed Claire down for a moment; she has always been a bundle of energy. So I let down my protective walls that I had been keeping her in, and I signed her up.

The building seemed to be a hive of activity when we first stepped in. People everywhere, yet it was an organized chaos. We got our T-shirts on and found Kathy, Director of Athlete Initiatives for Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA), and introduced her to Claire. Kathy scooped her up, chatted with her, and asked for a picture with Claire. This had become our tradition every year, find Kathy and take a picture!

Awesome is such an over-used word, but that was how it was for me walking in there; I was in awe. All of these people, laughter, cheers, smiles. No one was telling me that, “Down Syndrome people are always so happy.” The only looks we got were smiles, we were totally accepted, and that is such a peaceful feeling.

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SOIA Holiday Card Design Contest

Attention athletes! Our holiday card art contest is happening NOW! This is your chance to have your artwork featured on the holiday card sent out by the state office.

Here’s what you need to do:
-Create your art! The artwork should be appropriate for a holiday card and needs to measure 5×7 (portrait or landscape).

-Send your creation to the state office by mail or email:
-Stephanie Kocer-
-Special Olympics Iowa 551 SE Dovetail Rd., PO Box 620 Grimes, IA 50111

-Deadline for artwork submissions is Friday, November 4th.
-SOIA staff will announce the winner in November.


Good luck SOIA artists!

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Lincoln Savings Bank Presents 2nd Annual West Des Moines Polar Plunge

Ever been curious about this famous Special Olympics fundraiser? The Polar Plunge® is a signature fundraiser for Special Olympics that offers a unique opportunity for individuals and organizations to raise money and support Special Olympics Iowa athletes by jumping into frigid waters. Polar Plunges are held across the state of Iowa in the fall and spring. The West Des Moines Polar Plunge will be held Saturday, November 5 at the Jordan Creek Town Center.2016-lsb-recolored-unsecure

Premier Statewide Partner Lincoln Savings Bank is presenting the event for the second year in a row. Volunteers from LSB will be on hand all day to help the Plunge run smoothly and to provide guests with giveaways and fun activities.

Immediately following the Plunge, participants and guests can stay warm and enjoy fun, food, drink, music, a silent auction and drawings at the post-party. Lunch can be purchased for spectators at registration for $10 (ages 5 and under free).

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FIT Focus- October 2016

By: Gabrielle Magee, SOIA Intern 

As a part of the FIT program, “Fall Into Fitness” is back for a second year! Fall Into FIT-logo-vertical-203x300Fitness is a 10-week walking program aimed at helping Special Olympic athletes stay active and lead healthy lifestyles.

The program began on September 12 and will end on November 18. The program includes a grand total of 175 participants, including Special Olympic athletes and Unified Partners. The participants are members of 12 separate delegations that compose the walking clubs. The goal of the walking clubs is to meet at least once a week to walk together to build healthy habits, stay active and maintain motivation. Along with the walking program, each athlete will complete the FIT Program pre- and post-assessments in order to monitor their fitness improvements.

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SOIA Receives $15,000 Grant from Variety- the Children’s Charity to Fund Play Days and Unified Sports®

Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA) has received a $15,000 grant from Variety- the Children’s Charity to fund Young Athletes Play Days and Unified Sports®.logo-variety

Young Athletes Play Days are designed to provide play activities and socialization opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities between the ages of two and seven. Play Days were created to serve children too young to participate in formal Special Olympics events (athletes can begin competing at age eight).

“Variety- the Children’s Charity and Special Olympics Iowa have been great partners for many years. Our desire to serve is identical; our rewards are the smiles that we receive and the passion that is shown on the faces of those who we are privileged to walk beside,” says SOIA President and CEO Gary Harms. “Our Young Athlete Play Days are the first introduction of that which Special Olympics Iowa has to share with our wonderful participants and young people, as well as their families and fans.”

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Staff Column: Over the Edge

345 feet. One rappel. One cause. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to face the fear of heights, now is your chance! Special Olympics Iowa’s annual fundraiser Over the Edge will literally take you over the edge of the Financial Center in downtown Des Moines to raise money and awareness for SOIA athletes.030 (533x800)

How does Over the Edge exactly work? You must fundraise a minimum of $1,000 to secure your rappelling spot for Wednesday, October 26. You’ll then be assigned a rappel time for that day. You’ll report to the Financial Center the day of the event and will be given instruction on where to go and how to scale down the side of the building. And don’t worry, you’ll be wearing a harness and safety gear!

Of course, if going Over the Edge sounds a little scary to you, there are other ways you can get involved in the event. We’re always looking for more volunteers to help out the day of the event. We even encourage you to help recruit rappellers for the event.

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Living Unified – Tiffany and Robin

By: Lori Emery, Delegation Manager- Sioux City Knights 

Many of those reading this may already be familiar with the term Unified Partner as it applies to Special Olympics. However, there are some that do not know about this opportunity to be involved with our athletes. Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive program that combines individuals with intellectual disabilities (athletes) and individuals without intellectual disabilities (Unified Partners) on sports teams for training and

Meet Robin Hair and Tiffany Bauerly of the Sioux City Knights Special Olympics Iowa delegation. This dynamic duo has lived the unified lifestyle for more than 12 years and is proud to be part of the Special Olympics Unified Sports® movement.

Tiffany first met Robin through Best Buddies, a college program that matched a college student with an individual in the community that had special needs.  Tiffany and Robin would go bowling weekly through this program, but quickly saw that their friendship was growing outside the program. 

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Athlete Ben Bradshaw Bowls 300

Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA) would like to congratulate athlete Ben Bradshaw of img_20160917_140058410-450x800the Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Delegation for bowling a 300 game at a recent practice.

Ben has been in Special Olympics for four years and participates in bowling, basketball, softball and soccer. He started bowling at the age of three and started bowling for SOIA in 2013.

He says in his younger years he bowled on several leagues and he has a dream of going pro. His highest game before his recent 300 score was a 279 when he was 12 years old. Ben admits that he was getting a little nervous in the 8th frame, but it all worked out in the end.

From all of us at SOIA, congratulations again, Ben. Keep making us proud!

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