Special Olympics Missouri Athlete Finds A “Place to Belong”

Inspired by our mission, SOMO offers programs that cultivate the whole athlete on and off the sports field. It’s easy to see that lives can’t help but be changed through the programs that we offer such as:

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Travis Mankin leads a tour at the Training for Life Campus during our dedication celebration

However, when you talk with an athlete, it truly comes to life. You not only hear their joy; you can truly feel it.

“My life wouldn’t be the same without Special Olympics,” says Travis Mankin, 52. “Ever since I can remember, Special Olympics has been a major part of my life. I have experienced community and a place to belong. I also have helped other athletes feel like they have a place to belong.”

When you speak to Travis, a lifelong athlete, you not only hear joy, but confidence in the leader he is becoming. According to Travis, SOMO is not just a place to train and compete, but it’s a community to belong to.

“As I get older, I can’t help but think about the younger kids that are not a part of Special Olympics and feeling bullied or just sitting on the sidelines,” he says. “That would have been me if I didn’t have Special Olympics. I want to make sure that these kids become a part of Special Olympics and experience the friendships and belonging that I have experienced.”

“I want to make sure that these kids become a part of Special Olympics and experience the friendships and belonging that I have experienced.”

Travis is not just an athlete; he has become a leader who wants to pass on a legacy for generations to come. This is what makes SOMO so much more than just a program or an athletic organization. SOMO is a family, a community, a place to belong.

“I love our new Training for Life Campus because it’s a place for our athletes,” he says. “I want to help raise funds to complete the back fields so that more athletes like me and athletes that aren’t even apart of Special Olympics yet have a place to call home. I want to talk to everyone about this campus and help open the back fields.”

Travis works at Oscars in Jefferson City and is determined to help raise funds for our back fields referred to as the “Back 9,” which include a softball field, tennis courts, bocce courts, horseshoes court, golf skills field, athlete pavilion and Law Enforcement Torch Run Plaza. Travis is joining the Training for Life Campus Charter Class: A group of athletes who together have raised more than $245,000 for the Training for Life Campus to ensure that SOMO athletes can experience what they have for generations to come.

Whether you are a donor, coach, volunteer, fan, or an athlete — you are SOMO! Thank you for being a part of this life-changing movement. Athletes like Travis need your support. Please consider giving to our charter athletes by visiting their fundraising pages or by contacting our Major Gifts Officer, Travis Bourbon at bourbon@somo.org. If you are a current athlete and would like to raise funds for the Training for Life Campus by raising a minimum of $1,000, please consider becoming a Charter Class athlete by clicking here. Contact Mary Niswonger at niswonger@somo.org for more information.

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