Randy Reddick is Senior Vice President of Operations at Shop ‘n Save, one of SOMO’s biggest supporters. Randy has volunteered for several years and also serves on our Board of Directors.
One of my earliest memories of our involvement with Special Olympics was in 1999 when SOMO Board Member Dave Pudlowski approached SHOP ‘n SAVE with a routine request. Dave asked if we would agree to sell the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) T-shirt in our stores. Such a request was common for a retailer with multiple locations and fit well with our company’s desire to support those in law enforcement, while increasing our level of community involvement. However, the response from both customers and associates was unlike any fundraiser we had ever promoted.
The Torch Run campaign generated not only sales, but a heightened awareness of Special Olympics’ mission to provide year-round athletic competition for their athletes. The extraordinary success of the T-shirt promotion led to a discussion of future events that would benefit from the collective efforts of law enforcement, SOMO, and SHOP ‘n SAVE. Beginning with annual events such as the Polar Plunge and St. Louis Metro Area Spring Games, SHOP ‘n SAVE associates demonstrated their commitment and enthusiasm by participating in multiple events each year. The Trivia Night introduced in 2009 attracted over 600 SHOP ‘n SAVE associates who raised $35,000 in donations. With over 200 volunteers participating, some SHOP ‘n SAVE sponsored events have surpassed even those of the St. Louis Metro Area, with this year’s car raffle sales setting a new record of $46,000 in donations. Raising over $300,000 in 2001, the annual St. Louis Golf Classic is now one of the largest golf tournaments in the region.
While SHOP ‘n SAVE has been an ardent supporter of Special Olympics through its fundraising efforts, it is the spirit of the “volunteer” that truly makes the difference in our commitment. Our SHOP ‘n SAVE associates look forward to these annual events and take pride in knowing that they are supporting the athletes’ ability to experience the excitement of training and competing in a sport that they enjoy. Special Olympics volunteers stand apart, exhibiting humility and energy for the mission, as they focus on what is best for the athletes.
Therefore, our answer to the question: “Why Special Olympics?” is crystal clear.
I can think of no greater group to support than the athletes, who appreciate the opportunities afforded them and demonstrate the will to succeed. They handle both winning and disappointment with a dignity that should be modeled in all competitive sports. The evolving partnership between SOMO and SHOP ‘n SAVE has provided our associates the experience of both “a volunteer and a fan.” As a result, the spirit of Special Olympics is embedded within our culture and the lives of those who volunteer.