Articles from April 2018

Statewide Partner Hy-Vee Continues to Employ Athletes Across the State

Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA) Champion Statewide Partner Hy-Vee has had a long-standing tradition of employing individuals with intellectual disabilities, including many SOIA athletes. Hy-Vee has provided funding, volunteers and resources to Special Olympics Iowa athletes for decades. As a Champion Statewide Partner, Hy-Vee has provided more than $300,000 over the years to support events like Summer Games, the Mid-Winter Tournament, Winter Games, Team Iowa at the USA Games, the Plane Pull, and Polar Plunges®. Not only does the corporation provide financial support, but local Hy-Vee stores throughout Iowa also generously donate food for Special Olympics Iowa events.

In addition to financial support and food donations, Hy-Vee provides dietitians at Special Olympics Iowa events who offer free education and resources to athletes and families regarding healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Many Hy-Vee employees also volunteer for SOIA.

Meet some of our Iowa athletes that work at local Hy-Vee stores across the state!

Kevin Schmieder, Davenport
Kevin has worked at Hy-Vee for 21 and a half years. Kevin when first hired bagged groceries, picked up carts, and cleaned. He now works back in the kitchen busing tables and doing dishes. He is grateful for how good Hy-Vee has been to him over the years. He loves the friendly environment of coworkers and customers. He has always had great bosses and opportunities through Hy-Vee.

Tiffani Johnson, Sioux City
Tiffani has been working for Hy-Vee for three years. Tiffani works in the cafeteria IMG_0098cleaning off tables. She also is known for giving out hugs at work and has a clicker to count all the hugs she gets while working! Customers love to find her while at Hy-Vee to give her a hug and see what number they are! Tiffani loves working at Hy-Vee because of the staff and customers. She likes the safe environment there where they treat everyone respectfully.

Rob Beard, Marshalltown
Rob has worked at Hy-Vee for 22 years. His job is maintenance, everything from IMG_7043 (600x800)cleaning to putting things back on the shelf! Rob likes working at Hy-Vee because of how great the staff and customers are. Hy-Vee does a good job working with his Special Olympics schedule, while also celebrating his accomplishments.

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First-Ever DMPS Unified Sports Day Sponsored by Principal Financial Group

By Emma Finn


The Des Moines Public School District hosted its first-ever Unified Sports Day on April 19 at the Knapp Center on Drake University’s campus. The event is sponsored by Principal Financial Group, who also provided volunteers to make it possible.


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. Unified sports days gives people with and without intellectual disabilities to join together to compete on the same team.

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ISU Ames Greek Polar Plunge Raises $295,000 for SOIA


The 22nd annual Ames Greek Polar Plunge was held on Friday, April 6 at Iowa State University. The Polar Plunge is a signature fundraiser for Special Olympics and offers a unique opportunity for individuals and organizations to raise money and support Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA) athletes by plunging into frigid waters.

The Iowa State University Greek Community were the sole participants in the Plunge as part of their annual Greek Week. The Greek Community raised a total of $295,000 for SOIA with the Plunge this year.

The Polar Plunge is the single largest fundraising event for Special Olympics Iowa. Participants jumped into State Gym’s pool due to weather conditions. Athletes were also given the opportunity to plunge with their Greek Week teams whom they had been paired with all week to participate in events with.

Thank you to the Iowa State Greek Community for all of the hard work for this year’s Polar Plunge!

Check out more photos on our Facebook Page.

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SOIA Athletes to Compete at 2018 Drake Relays

By Stephanie Kocer


On Friday, April 27, eight Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA) teams from across the state will compete at the 2018 Drake Relays at Drake Stadium on Drake University’s campus in Des Moines. The teams will run a 4×100 relay race. The Special Olympics teams will include:

Scott County Adult Females
Arc of Story County Females
Griswold Tigers
Grandwood Hawks
Waterloo Goodwill
Cedar Rapids Park and Rec Cheetahs
Clinton County Special Olympics
Des Moines Roosevelt Roughriders

This will be the first time in the history of the Drake Relays that Special Olympics teams will compete.

“For decades, the Drake Relays has helped launch athletes to unrivaled athletic success. Each year, many of the world’s best athletes begin their season on the Blue Oval and end their season on a medal podium. We’re honored to partner with the Special Olympics Iowa to provide these tremendous and inspiring athletes the same opportunity to race on the Blue Oval as they prepare to advance and represent the state of Iowa at the Special Olympics USA Games,” says Blake Boldon, Director of the Drake Relays. 

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Meet Team Iowa: Brandon Baier

FB_IMG_1522872672141By Emma Finn

Twenty-six year old Brandon Baier of Atlantic, Iowa will be representing team Iowa at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington. The USA Games will take place July 1-6, 2018. Over 3,500 Special Olympics athletes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 1,000 coaches, 10,000 family members, 10,000 volunteers, and an estimated 50,000 spectators will be at the event.

This is Brandon’s first year at the USA Games. He will be competing in track and field in the 100, the 4X100, shotput and javelot events.

Brandon explained how he has been preparing for the USA Games by running every day and also practicing the specific events. Brandon will be accompanied by his mother Bernice Baier to the USA Games.

“I am excited for the competition and to meet new friends,” says Brandon.

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