Guest post: Responsibilities of Athlete-Leader PR Assistant

This guest blog post is from 2018 Team Missouri athlete-leader Allison D’Agostino (public relations assistant). It was originally written on her personal blog and re-posted here with her permission. It has been edited by SOMO for content and length.

To make sure I know what to do when we reach Seattle, Brandon and Harrison give me goals and little missions to do. I wholeheartedly don’t mind. This gives me something to do. This actually forces me to control my internet-watching intake, which is a huge amount of time.

For the deadline, which happened to be January 15th, I had to complete five videos, as well as the Team Missouri Spotlight Interviews scheduled posts for February. I love Columbia Access TV in this situation, not to mention my oldest sister. She managed to give me a Mac thumb drive in my Christmas stocking. I was able to format it and use it for some of the footage I received. They needed fixes for the lighting. (My editing software does have some effects that help with lighting. I did not realize this until I fiddled with it last night.)

Three of five videos were Spotlight interviews. One of those happened to be of me. How fortunate I am! I can keep in the bit where I praise Brandon. ^_^ Hopefully, when I send in the videos and this blog, he won’t take out that bit. The unfortunate thing is he has one photo I can’t insert. I find it weird, though, considering it’s used in every USA Games video that gets uploaded to YouTube.

The remaining videos are of athletes training, doing water bottle flips, and poetry reading. I don’t know how I’m going to incorporate the water bottle footage into the training, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Ed note: Keep an eye on our YouTube channel and Facebook page over the next few weeks for when we post the videos Allison worked so hard on.

Advertisements

Guest post: Athlete-leader Allison D’Agostino makes Team Missouri!

This guest blog post is from 2018 Team Missouri athlete-leader Allison D’Agostino (public relations assistant). It is posted here mostly as it was originally written on her personal blog and re-posted here with her permission.

D'Agostino, Allison_StaffDuring August or September, my mom and I did a road trip to Connecticut, New York, and then St. Louis. My second sister’s second travel for her travel nursing position chose a quaint city on the east coast, coincidentally near the ocean. (I managed to swim in the Atlantic Ocean for at least half an hour, almost got used to the cold water, and swam like a mermaid. Mermaid dream almost complete!)

Before the road trip, I found out from the central PR team of Special Olympics Missouri that a position opened up. And it’s for an athlete only. YES! I applied immediately, despite the fact I might have to do an interview during the road trip.

There were two rounds of the application process. I managed to get through both. Seeing as I knew some of the people in this interview, which happened the day I returned from the trip, I had a good feeling about it. (I did, however, learn that one of my athlete friends applied as well.) I don’t remember all the details, but I believe that towards the end of the interview, I was asked how I would feel of taking the position. Basically, they were saying, “Congratulations. You have the job.”

I got the job! 😄 Ever since then, I’ve been assigned a few things to do. I made sure to step up when it seemed like the PR team needed help. A family meeting occurred for all the athletes, coaches, Unified Partners, and staff that made it to Team Missouri for the USA Games 2018. Not only did I help the PR team with whatever they needed, I also had to attend a few things required for athletes. The same thing happened last week when we had a training weekend.

I still hesitate at times, on whether I should be doing something, or confused, or even just speaking my thoughts. I guess I still have some of that shyness when I first entered Special Olympics a little over ten years ago. At least I’m being brave in the attempt of this difficult, overwhelming, amazing position. I somewhat look forward to all the other challenges ahead. Since I am the first athlete to do this, either in Missouri or USA, I intend to make the first footsteps for those to follow.

Guest post: Dec. 8-9 Team Missouri training

This guest blog post is from 2018 Team Missouri athlete Lynna Hodgson (track and field). It is posted here exactly as it was originally written on her personal blog and re-posted here with her permission.

On Friday my dad picked up TJ (Power Lifting athlete) we carpooled to team meeting, when Dad came back from picking up TJ, jesse and I load our suitcases and we were on our way to Jefferson City! We only made one stop. Once we got to the hotel, we checked in, they checked our weight and wanted to see our picture ID. Once we got done with that process we found out our room and went into a room where the rest of Team MO  were, had pizza for dinner, while we had dinner we watched everyone’s interview and then we had input counsel. I went to bed around 9pm.

On Saturday  woke up at 6:30am, packed up and made sure I got everything and didn’t leave anything. Went for breakfast. We had scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage links and biscuits and gravy. After breakfast everyone loaded up and went to a middle school, we all met there, and we congratulate everyone on their fundraiser efforts, and after that talk we went to the gym (track and field) we jogged around the gym four times. Fast walked a couple of times. Did stretches, practiced shot put and softball throw. Ate lunch, went outside and went on a walk. It was cold..brrrr…thank goodness I brought my heavy coat, and I’m so glad I did!! Came back inside and did some activities. Such as team building, interviews, healthy eating and trying on uniforms. TJ’s Mom picked us up and we were on our way home. Got home around 7pm. I learned so much this past weekend: new stretches, met some new people on the team, and found out if we fill out our training logs every time we train and we turn it in the next meeting we will get some MO bucks!! Come on team Track & Field, we can do it!! Go team MO!!

TJ (team MO athlete power lifting) and I
Celebrated Allison’s 29th Birthday🎈🎁🎂
Coach Michelle and I
Team MO athlete Allen (softball) and I

 

‘I felt left in the dark and all alone’

Koch, Amanda_BocceThis is a guest blog post from Special Olympics Missouri athlete Amanda Koch. She is a member of Team Missouri and will travel to compete in bocce at the 2018 USA Games in Seattle.

Four years ago, I did not have anything. I felt left in the dark and all alone. I had no one to talk to. I did not have a social life of friends, nor Special Olympics. I did not know about communication skills. I have always been quiet. I did not have any independence, nor have a boyfriend who i can share my life with.

My life changed when I moved in with my dad and stepmom, Debbie. I now ride horses and volunteer my time at Exceptional Equestrians, which is a therapeutic program.

Now that I am out on my own, I have everything I want. I have support from my dad and stepmom. The two of them have given me a second chance to live my life the way that I want.

On Mondays, I volunteer my time at Exceptional Equestrians. On Wednesdays, I am involved with Developmental Services of Franklin County Life Ops. We volunteer at Willow Brooke Assisted Living, learn how to cook, work on social skills, work on assertive communication, and much more. On Thursdays, I have a personal assistant that assists me with things that I don’t learn at Life Ops.

Koch, Amanda_BocceI have a job at Walgreens. I have been employed there for two years. I help in cosmetics when needed, stock shelves, and run the cash register. I mostly work in the photo lab. I can make wood panels, posters, canvases, and much more.

I get to experience my own life with a boyfriend, whom I love.

For more information about Team Missouri athletes set to compete in the 2018 USA Games, click here.

Radio DJ Conquers Fear of Heights for SOMO

Brad Hildebrand

Brad Hildebrand rappels down the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch

In 2011, Brad Hildebrand took his first journey rappelling down 20 stories in downtown St. Louis. Why? To go Over the Edge for Special Olympics Missouri.

Over the Edge is a one-of-a-kind yearly event where participants raise a minimum of $1,000 so they can rappel down a multiple-story building. Participants not only get an adrenaline-pumping adventure but also raise money to help fund Special Olympics Missouri athletes.

Brad works for KSLQ in St. Louis and promotes a variety of different charities on his radio show. Back when he first started, Brad joined another radio station’s team to go Over the Edge so he could conquer his fear of heights.

“Quite honestly, the first time I ever did it, maybe I had a selfish motive; I wanted to raise money for Special Olympics but I also have a fear of heights. So I tried to overcome my fear of heights,” said Brad.

Much like how Brad conquered his fear of heights, Special Olympics athletes are conquering their fears and are smashing the stigma that many have associated with intellectual disabilities every time they compete in Special Olympic Missouri events.

This year’s event will mark Brad’s seventh year straight going Over the Edge for Special Olympics Missouri. Now, he is part of KSLQ’s own team that has been participating together since 2013. Every year, they are helping to make the event bigger and better by recruiting more people to join their team and raising more money for the cause.

Over the years, Brad has personally raised money by doing a lot of on-air fundraising. He also raised money by promoting the event on his social media outlets. At one point in time, he offered an advertisement deal that advertisers would buy a fundraising package that would benefit the cause.

His team has been able to raise money by talking about the event on-air since some of them are radio hosts as well. Others fundraise through networking with people they know.

Last year, his team was able to set a new personal record by raising over $11,000 and recruiting eight people to rappel on their team. This year, they are have already started their fundraising efforts for the event and are looking to double what they did last year by raising $22,000 and recruiting 16 people to rappel.

Brad enjoys the camaraderie he feels with his Over the Edge team and likes to feel like he’s making a difference in the lives of others.

“People will say ‘My cousin is a Special Olympian or my kid is a Special Olympian and thank you so much for doing what you’re doing,’” Brad said. “It’s always sort of a nice feeling you know, to have that feedback that you’re making a difference hopefully and people are appreciating it as well too.”

This year, Brad and his team will rappel down the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch on October 7. People also have the chance to raise money and rappel down the Jefferson State Office Building in Jefferson City on October 14.

To learn more and sign up to have your own thrilling and fun adventure, visit http://www.somo.org/edge

State Summer Games through the eyes of an intern

Sarah Schroll is a communications intern in the KC Metro office. She is a senior at the University of Central Missouri majoring in Public Relations.

When I first started my internship with Special Olympics Missouri in the beginning of May, I did not really know what I was getting myself into. I knew that I would be writing some, helping with tasks, and working on various projects throughout the summer, but I certainly did not know that I was going to have such a rewarding and hands on experience.

Earlier this month (June 2-4) I was able to attend my first State Summer Games. I had no idea what to expect except I knew that I would be watching as athletes throughout the state went to Springfield, Missouri to compete in a state wide competition. I did not know that I would have such a great time talking to and getting to know athletes, volunteers, and staff members.

I arrived at the State Summer Games on Friday afternoon to work on setting up the opening ceremony with my internship supervisor and Director of Marketing and Communications for Special Olympics Missouri, Mandi Steward-Ballinger. Before the games, I was able to help with some of the behind the scenes work and I was excited to see how the ceremony would turn out.

Blog post picture- 1

The opening ceremony was a lot of work and I was on my toes consistently, but when the ceremony started I got to see how all of our hard work paid off. I watched as all of the athletes came into the stadium during the parade of athletes and noticed how excited and happy they were to be there. I looked around the room as the band played and saw the joy they had dancing with their families and teammates. Finally, during the torch lighting ceremony, my face lit up with a smile as I looked around the stadium as it filled up with excitement.

On Saturday, I was able to work with athletes first hand by being an event manager for turbo javelin. I was able to talk and help the athletes as they were waiting to compete and was able to see them do they best they could do in competition. It was amazing to see the athletes cheer each other on even if they were directly competing with those they encouraged. The sense of love and compassion for everyone competing was evident throughout the day. That night I was able to attend the dance and watch athletes, coaches, and families have fun and dance together.

Blog Post picture-2

On the final day I was able to help check in volunteers and direct them to where they are needing to go. I then took a walk to the track and field competitions where I was able to watch more athletes compete.

My first State Summer Games was one that I will not soon forget. The excitement from the athletes was electrifying and seeing the impact that Special Olympics Missouri makes on so many people’s lives truly showed me the importance of this organization. I am excited for the next coming months while I continue to work with SOMO and I can’t wait for the next fun adventure that I will have at State Selection Camp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missouri Residents Honored at Annual Awards Banquet

The Blattel family, Robb Eichelberger, Genice Fisher and Esther Pfeiff were all recognized for their outstanding contributions to Special Olympics Missouri at the SOMO Annual Awards Luncheon March 25 at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Lake of the Ozarks. Each year, Special Olympics Missouri salutes those who have made significant contributions to the Special Olympics movement. Each area nominee is submitted for statewide recognition, and these overall winners were announced at the SOMO Summit.

DSC_0852 (Copy)OUTSTANDING FAMILY: The Blattel Family, Chaffee
The Blattel family is a perfect example of the impact one family can have on Special Olympics. They are involved on multiple levels, from athletic participation to coaching, volunteering to Unified Partners and raising money.

Wanda coaches multiple sports, which her son, Lucas, participates in. Lucas is a multi-sport athlete, who is well known for training hard and earning gold medals. He has participated in more than 200 events in more than 100 competitions. In addition to playing he helped coach the Cape Tornados with his mom.

He is a strong leader: Whether encouraging and supporting his teammates in practice and competition or making sure athletes are ready to go on time or get to the right spot, Lucas supports and guides his teammates.

The Blattel family is “all-in” when it comes to being Unified Partners. Both immediate and extended family members have participated in a variety of events and games as Unified Partners over the years. This year Lacey and Colton both participated at State Summer Games as Unified Partners in tennis.

They actively support fundraisers such as Drive it Home Raffle and Polar Plunge. The Blattel family has come together to host one of the Southeast Area’s biggest fundraisers – Wagon Trail Ride Kitchen. They cook two meals a day for three days at a makeshift kitchen at the McDowell South campground for the Wagon Trail Ride. The entire family bands together to make meals for more than 40-80 hungry campers. This year the annual event raised more than $13,000, making a significant impact for area athletes.

 

DSC_0846 (Copy)OUTSTANDING ATHLETE: Robb Eichelberger, Boonville
More than 20 years ago, Robb Eichelberger started his journey as a Special Olympics athlete. Through¬out those years he has truly grown to broaden his role in our organization. Robb has gone above and beyond to advocate for SOMO and to rise up to become a voice for our athletes. He is the second athlete in the history of SOMO to serve on the SOMO Board of Directors for four two-year terms. He fulfilled all the requirements for being on the board and came to every board meeting fully prepared.

The SOMO Board presented him with the “Robb Eichel¬berger Award,” which is now an annual award for other board members with perfect attendance; he never missed a meeting in his eight years on the board. Robb is also part of the Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs) University and is currently major¬ing in communications. He was one of the first athletes to sign up for this program. He chose to major in communications so he could face his fear of public speaking in front of a large groups. This is an example of how Robb is always trying to find ways to expand his leadership skills, face his fears and share his message with the world.

He is an incredible fundraiser and has raised more than $5,000 for TLC to earn a Charter Class ring and letter jacket. Robb continues to compete in golf, which he and his golf partner have been competing in together for more than eight years. He also volunteers at area and state competitions and fundraising events. Robb is a true leader. He is always looking for what is best for the athletes and wants their voices to be heard.

 

DSC_0850 (Copy)OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER: Genice Fisher, Fulton
Volunteers are the backbone of our organization and Genice Fisher is definitely proof of that. There are so many events within the Central Area that we truly couldn’t do without her. Genice also serves as the volunteer sports commissioner for athletics.

She also an active fundraiser and has Plunged and participates in our Drive it Home Raffle sales every year. Even beyond that, she helps work several other fundraising events. She is the gal you can call even at the last moment to come help if we’re short of volunteers!

Recently she has stepped into a new role as becoming a mentor for our Athlete Leadership Programs University. She continues to work and meet with her athlete-leader beyond the classroom to ensure that all assignments are completed.

She also regularly serves as a venue/event manager for state events and volunteers at SOMO’s headquarters office to prepare for state games.

 

DSC_0849 (Copy)OUTSTANDING COACH: Esther Pfeiff, Purdin
Esther Pfeiff coaches for Tri-County Association for Handicapped Persons and is one of the founding members of this organization and team of parents whose children have intellectual disabilities.

Esther took over the role as head coach in 2012 and has kept the team going with the help of other families ever since. Esther is one of those coaches that every staff person loves! She always has her scores in on time, she comes to events with a smile on her face and most importantly, she always makes sure the athletes are having fun.

Esther has been a coach for 30 years and is certified in bowling, track and field, basketball and bocce.

Esther helps raise money for SOMO and encourages her athletes and families to help as well. Esther even sold the winning Drive It Home Raffle ticket one year!

Through the years the recognition has never been about her, but she continues to do an amazing job promoting our program and giving SOMO’s athletes in the North Area great coaching wisdom and advice.