Articles from March 2018

2018 Ankeny Young Athletes Play Day

By Emma Finn


On April 12 Sammons Financial Group will help host the 4th annual Young Athletes Play Day at Ankeny Centennial High School in Ankeny. Young Athletes Play Days are designed to provide activities and socialization opportunities for children with and without intellectual disabilities between the ages of two and seven.

Play Days give children who are too young to participate in formal Special Olympics events an opportunity to compete and engage in Olympic activities. It is an event that helps promote inclusion and acceptance at a young age.

Sammons Financial Group has been a Statewide Partner with Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA) for 10 years. This year, 50 volunteers from Sammons are scheduled to help out at the event. They do everything from helping put lunches together to handing out awards to participants.

“We have a lot of repeat offenders, once they volunteer at this event they become hooked,” says Mary Buscher, a Human Resources Manager for Sammons and a long-time SOIA volunteer.

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DMPS First-Ever Unified Sports Day

The Des Moines Public School District will host its first-ever Unified Sports Day on April 19 at the Knapp Center on Drake University’s campus.

In December of 2017, all ten Des Moines Middle Schools became active Unified Champion Schools, meaning that in partnership with Special Olympics Iowa they committed to pursuing Unified Sports, Student Leadership and School-Wide Awareness of intellectual disabilities. Next year, the district will register a number of elementary schools as Unified Champion Schools as well.

The goal of this initiative is to build upon and promote to students the concept of inclusion and acceptance across the school district.

There is still time to sign-up to volunteer at the event. Sign-up online today to get involved!

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Staff Column: What the Polar Bear Plunge Means to Me

By Emma Finn, Marketing & Communications Intern (middle left) 


This April will mark my third year of raising money and participating in the Greek Community’s “Polar Bear Plunge” at Iowa State University. As a freshmen I knew very little about what the Polar Plunge was. I knew to an extent what Special Olympics was, but I never fully understood what I was raising the money for. That year I raised my $75 for the plunge and participated.

Then my sophomore year came around and I became friends with Katie Buscher. Katie has been a volunteer for Special Olympics Iowa for years, along with her parents Dan and Mary and sisters Lizzy and Annie. The Buscher family’s passion as advocates and volunteers for SOIA is truly inspiring. Getting to know their family better and meeting Katie’s uncle Michael who is a SOIA athlete, helped me realize more about what SOIA really was. The Buscher families’ kindness, generosity and involvement with SOIA inspired me beyond belief. That year for the plunge I raised $575.

Fall of my junior year rolled around, which is when the SOIA State Volleyball tournament is held in Ames. One of my good friends, Mallory Majors, helped run the event. Mallory had such dedication and drive when helping organize the event. She came home that day after the tournament with a smile on her face and loads of stories that stuck with me. It was then that I decided I wanted to get more involved with SOIA.

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Meet Team Iowa: Sioux City Unified Bowling Team

By Emma Finn


A Unified Bowling team from Sioux City West Middle School will be representing Iowa in the USA Special Olympic Games held in Seattle, Washington July 1-6. The team is made up of four players: Ron Schmidt, Estrella Tejeda, Ann Newton and JJ Reeg-Beckner.

Although Bowling does not belong to the Olympic sports, it is among the most popular sports in Special Olympics. It is a particularly beneficial sport to people with intellectual disabilities, regardless of their age or sports abilities, since it ensures physical exercise and at the same time participation and social integration.

The team is extremely excited for this once in a lifetime opportunity. They will be the only bowling team representing Iowa at USA Games, and it will be the first year these athletes have been on a team together.

Ron Schmidt, a Unified Partner on the team described how when practicing they all learn from one another. He explained  how he teaches the athletes things while he also learns new things from them. He also commented on the team’s good sportsmanship.

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