This past June, Special Olympics Missouri athletes attended National Games Selection Camp in Mexico, Mo. Of these athletes, 125 were chosen to be a part of the Missouri national team, called MO Magic, and represent the state of Missouri at the 2014 National Games in New Jersey.
It’s a privilege to be selected and an exciting time in the lives of these athletes, but there is work to be done before they compete in 2014. Each athlete has a goal to raise $1,500, and many will set individual goals along the way. Fundraising efforts began at the beginning of August, and in the past month a few athletes have already begun effective campaigns that will lead them to New Jersey.
Logan Hulett, 22, has already met the fundraising goal in just one month, but he is not stopping there. A local sports editor in his hometown of Moberly wrote a feature article about Logan and how swimming for Special Olympics has helped him over the years. The article helped raise awareness in his hometown and generated an interest in his success and accomplishments as a part of the Missouri team.
As far as fundraising goes, Logan is selling mums which each generate $10 of profit towards Logan’s fundraising. In addition, Logan’s father, Stanley Hulett, is putting together a corporate challenge to benefit all Missouri team members. He will be inviting local businesses in Moberly to pledge a donation for SOMO athletes. His father has no doubt that this effort will be successful due to Logan’s presence in the community.
“Logan endears himself to a lot of people. There are not many people around here that Logan doesn’t know,” said Hulett. He believes that this personal connection is what drives people to want to donate.
Jane Highland, 34, will be competing in athletics in New Jersey and has a similar presence in the Columbia community. She has been selling homemade cheesecakes for a month now with the help of her mother, Mary Moore. In just one month, 50 cheesecakes have been sold at $20 each.
“I thought we would make maybe $500 overall with the cakes… a lot of people buy them to support her,” Moore said. In addition to selling cheesecakes, Jane has had great fundraising success at her workplace, Kilgore’s Pharmacy in Columbia. One of her coworkers had the idea to sell T-shirts with the store’s name and to make them Jane’s favorite color — orange.
The idea is to sell the shirts for $20, with the $10 profit from each shirt going to Jane’s fundraising. As an extra incentive, Kilgore’s will begin allowing employees to wear the shirts on Wednesdays (the day that Jane works) if they pay $5, which will be donated to Jane’s fund as well. So far, more than $500 in proceeds has been raised for Jane from Kilgore’s.
Pierce Rash, 32, from Galt, is a MO Magic bocce team member who has already begun successful fundraising as well. “He’s a real motivator… he always wears his medals,” said his mother, Judy Rash. They have spread the word in the community that Pierce was selected for the Missouri team, and people are excited to help him get to New Jersey. His mother has made sure everyone knows that he has to earn his way to New Jersey, so Pierce has been asked to help with projects around town. Pierce fed his neighbors’ chickens for a week earning five dollars per day, bussed tables at Mi Mexico restaurant in Gallatin for tips and cleaned the glass of DTC Bank’s front doors in Trenton.
At the end of the month, there will be “Rent-A-Pierce,” as his mother calls it. Missionaries who are moving out of town will be “renting” Pierce to load their trailers, wash trucks and compile donation items for the thrift store where Pierce volunteers. Among other things the Rash family has planned is an Apple iPad mini raffle at five dollars per ticket and a SOMO-decorated Christmas tree raffle at one dollar per ticket.
The family will also be sending SOMO-decorated Christmas trees to St. Joseph for other athletes to raffle off. In addition, Pierce walks one mile every day, and people pledge the miles he walks, which is a constant source of donation money. “The communities here are totally behind him. … They’ve honored our wish to have him earn his way to New Jersey,” Judy said.
Melissa Buss, 26, from Festus will be competing in bocce in New Jersey, and she is another athlete receiving strong community support. Her father, who passed away this past year, was a member of the Elks Lodge, and the organization has decided to reach out to Melissa in her journey to New Jersey.
They will be having raffles and tailgates over the next couple of months, and will then present a check to the Buss family that will go towards her $1,500 fundraising goal.
“Melissa told them about her events. Whenever she’d come home with a medal, she’d go there,” said Helen Buss, Melissa’s mother. “They’ve taken her under their wing to make sure she gets to New Jersey, they’re just friends who want her to get there.” Melissa has also set up a link to her donation page on Facebook and Twitter to let friends and family know how they can help.
These athletes’ communities have played an important role in their fundraising efforts, along with hard work and creativity. People enjoy helping a good cause, so it’s important to spread the word and make sure people know how they can help. For many athletes, social media sites are a great and easy way to keep people updated. Logan, Jane, Pierce and Melissa have all started off strong with fun and effective ways to raise money. For more information on the MO Magic team and how you can help the athletes get to New Jersey, visit http://somo.org/nationalgames.