(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) – Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) enjoyed a historic day for our program, Jefferson City and Missouri as a whole, as we officially broke ground on the construction of the Training for Life Campus. This one-of-a-kind facility will serve as the headquarters for Special Olympics Missouri, as well as provide our 15,312 athletes throughout the state a place to convene, train, and further their development both on and off the playing field. It will be the first facility of its kind in the world built for the sole purpose of improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by having athletic training and Healthy Athletes screenings in the same place.
The groundbreaking ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 4. With the future site of the campus on the northeast corner of US Highway 54 and Missouri Highway 179 in Jefferson City serving as a backdrop, The program featured speakers including Chair of the Training for Life Capital Campaign Committee Gary Wilbers and SOMO athlete Derek Sandbothe, SOMO President/CEO Mark Musso and Jefferson City mayor Carrie Tergin as well as photo opportunities with athletes and significant contributors to the Training for Life Campus.
“It is going to make me grow as an athlete and as a human being in every day society. That is why I am so proud to be a part of the Special Olympics and what the Training for Life Campus will do for us,” Sandbothe said. “It will give us a chance to make ourselves, to make ourselves accepted in the community and loved by others.”
Construction will begin soon after the groundbreaking, and is expected to be complete in the fall of 2018. The $16 million that has been raised to date is enough to construct the 34,000 square foot main building and multi-purpose outdoor sports field. SOMO is still looking to raise $2 million to complete the remaining outdoor training fields, including tennis courts, bocce courts, a softball field, horseshoe pits, golf skills areas, donor recognition areas and a wellness trail surrounding the campus.
In addition to athletics training, the campus will provide enrichment opportunities for new and existing SOMO programs, including free health screenings in our Healthy Athletes Program, life skills training, and our Young Athletes Program for children as young as three. These programs are specifically designed to improve health, fitness and socialization among our athletes.
“We know that the Training for Life Campus will have a great impact on our community and we’re excited about helping Special Olympics Missouri reach its goal to make this project a reality,” said Randy Allen, President and CEO with Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce. “The campus will truly be a vibrant hub for our community.”
From an economic impact standpoint, the SOMO Training for Life Campus is expected to bring approximately $350,000 per year to the Jefferson City economy. It is estimated that 1,200 athletes, along with coaches and volunteers, will take advantage of year-round training opportunities each year, which will in turn bring approximately 1,950 room nights and 7,500 meals annually to Jefferson City hotels and restaurants along with 30 permanent jobs in the Jefferson City area.
“The Training for Life Campus will be transformational for our athletes,” Wilbers said. “Our very deserving athletes will have opportunities to train, get health screenings and develop skills at the campus facilities. They’ll finally have a place to call their own.”
The site of the campus was announced in January 2015, as Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, developers, healthcare providers and business leaders came together to bring resources and support to make this project a great win for the Jefferson City area and Special Olympics Missouri. The 16.5-acre property where the campus will be built was donated by Farmer Holding Company and Twehous Excavating of Jefferson City, announced during a press conference held January 2015, and is valued at $3.2 million.