About Special Olympics Missouri

Promoting acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities through sports.

A look at an Athlete-Leader’s Capstone Project

D'Agostino, Allison_StaffThis blog post was written by athlete-leader Allison D’Agostino. She is an athlete-leader from Columbia. She is involved with Athlete Leadership Programs University and took her final class in earlier this year in March. In order to graduate, the final class asks the athlete-leaders to come up with a final project and complete it. Allison writes a personal blog on a weekly basis and some of her posts chronicled her work with her Capstone project. Some of her posts, including the one with her final Capstone project (a documentary about a SOMO athlete from Columbia), are included below. Allison will graduate from Athlete Leadership Programs University in May 2019 with a degree in Communications!

March 4:
Yes! ^_^ Finally. The last semester for my Communications major. I’m so excited I got to attend this particular semester for Athlete Leadership Programs University. (See; what did I tell ya? The exciting stuff always happens the first week of the month. That’s why I forget to write my weekly blogs. Lol. Nothing happens.)

Like most majors, all the majors at ALPs U have a Capstone class to finish it off. Any-who, each of us needed to come up with a project that would suit our major. One athlete-leader intends to become a mentor for this fall’s semester; another chose speeches as well as hosting a unified partners/athletes event, and there’s even an athlete-leader who plans to make a documentary on a chosen SOMO athlete, to show people we Special Olympics athletes do more than practice and compete in sports.

Can you guess who that last athlete-leader is? Yep, it’s me. ^_^ I’m so excited!

Already I’ve talked to my dad, as well as contacted the Central Area manager to make certain the athlete of my choice lives in Columbia. That way I don’t have to worry about transportation so much. (I still don’t have a license, and I plan to keep it that way. Angela Lansbury inspired me!)

Aug. 26:
I attempted to edit my Capstone project Friday and Saturday at the local access television station. Not much is done, but I got some progress.

The deadline is September 9th, but seeing as this is a documentary for the capstone, I’m desperate to turn it in this Friday. I’m so nervous. I want everything just right, but that’s clearly not happening. I overwhelm and overthink things.

There’s a word I’m searching for, but it’s not coming to me. Lol. Oh, well. I’ll figure it out. Wish me luck!

Sept. 2:
Boy, was this week a stressful one. Fun, but stressful. Ever since I took my final semester for ALPs U (Athlete Leadership Programs University), I took my professor’s advice to heart. He happens to be the PR man for Special Olympic Missouri. I look up to him so much and take what he says seriously. Except when I know he’s joking or teasing me, which he doesn’t do quite often.

I still remember the time when I was at HQ… I think it was the week we were leaving for Seattle. I mentioned to one of the employees that he’s a lovable guy. And off in the distance, while he was searching for a banner, we hear him call out — “If that’s what you think, then I’m not doing my job.” I busted out laughing.

I know he can be intimidating at times. That just shows how much he cares, which is a lot. He’s one of those people who can watch you from the sidelines and can tell almost immediately that you have potential of being a great person and influencer, if you get my drift.

Anyway, I’m getting distracted.

His advice to me was to finish my capstone a few weeks prior to the homework deadline. That way, if he has any ideas or suggestions on what I can do to improve the video before it’s finalized as my capstone assignment. Well, I finished it… with one week away. Yikes!

Only now I’m nervous of what he’ll say. I’m not happy with the opening credits, but that’s probably because I’ve seen so many movies, shows, and documentaries, that I want mine to be just as amazing. I reviewed my documentary with my mentor and noticed a flaw or two. I’m not going to do anything, though. I already sent it to my professor. I only hope he gives me enough good/bad criticism that will help me make better videos.

Oh, boy. Wish me luck!

Nov. 8:
Wow, I cannot believe how long it’s been since I posted a regular blog, and not one about my gaming channel. Haha! The sad thing is – I never gave a full recap when my prof responded to my capstone project.
First off, I want to thank everyone involved. Not just Anna McDaniel and her sister, but also Matt Rapp, Coach Chris Klepfel, CATV, HyVee, Lazer Lanes, University of Missouri (for the Stankowski Field,) as well as the VA hospital. Without them, the documentary would not be such a success.

Now, let’s talk about what happened when my professor finally responded. He definitely made a BUNCH of notes on what could’ve been done, what needed revising/fixing, and how I as a director should know what to cut out. He even said that it should be cut into separate videos, so the storyboard of it all makes sense.

I understand that documentaries have different time lengths. Shoot, he’s done plenty on SOMO’s YouTube channel. I also understand that not all people can watch 30 minute videos. Heck, the average watch span on almost the entire YouTube site is probably 3 minutes, and I’m just assuming here.

I didn’t want it in separate videos, though. As a potential director, and from memory of all the documentaries I’ve seen, I wanted to put my point across in one video. That someone with a disability can achieve anything. I’m sure you could make that point in multiple videos, but would you remember to watch the next video after such a long break?

Oh, and don’t worry. My professor didn’t give all negative comments. He also pointed out some good things, which made the director side of me quite happy. I’m almost always proud of the work I’ve done – almost.

Oh, geez. I almost forgot. I passed! ^_^ I’ll be in the graduation ceremony at the SOMO State Summer Games next year. Yay!

Editor’s note: We are very proud of Allison and everything she did for her Capstone project. Our athlete-leaders continue to prove just how valuable Athlete Leadership Programs are. People with intellectual disabilities just want to prove that they too have skills to share with the world. So many SOMO athletes want to give back to the organization that has done so much for them. ALPs is about educating and empowering our athletes to use those skills to better themselves and their communities. If you’re wanting to get involved with ALPs, visit www.SOMO.org/ALPs or email Schatsiek@somo.org

Advertisements

2018 Drive it Home Raffle: And the winner is . . .

On Saturday, Nov. 17, we celebrated with seven area finalists from across the state, who purchased tickets for the Drive it Home Raffle. They were all winners before they arrived! They visited the Training for Life campus, enjoyed a tour, dinner and watched our athletes participate in their very first camp at the TLC! A truly remarkable weekend in so many ways!

And now it is time to meet the winner of the 2018 Ford Explorer: Al Rodriguez! Turns out that the number 5 is lucky for Al. He was the fifth person to select a key at the Drive it Home Raffle Grand Prize Giveaway Event. He was joined by his wife and young children. His 5 year old daughter, Megan helped him pick the winning key. One of the most impactful parts of the event was watching the athletes give high fives to the winning family as they walked to their new vehicle! Congrats to Al and his family!

Raffle winner 2018

 

MEET THE FINALISTS

CENTRAL AREA
Tammy Morgan: Tammy purchased one ticket from Special Olympics Missouri athlete Derek Sandboth when she visited the new Training for Life campus on a tour with members of the Knights of Columbus. She likes to drive and works in Jefferson City. She recognizes all that the Knights do to support our mission and is excited about becoming more involved in Special Olympics Missouri. If Tammy wins the Ford Explorer, she would most like jump up and down with excitement! A trip could be in Tammy’s future. Ticket #: 011944

NORTH AREA
Kim Swanson: Kim purchased two tickets from her friend and coworker Lisa Breeden. She is very familiar with Special Olympics and our mission because Lisa has a son who participates in SOMO every year. He is involved in several sports and is always so excited to participate. Winning a new Ford Explorer would be a blessing to her family as they have children in college next year. Ticket #: 078013

SOUTHEAST AREA
Colin Welch: Colin purchased four tickets from SOMO staff member, Mary Niswonger. Colin is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has supported Special Olympics athletes for several years. He helped with Area Spring Games in high school and raises money through the Knights of Columbus Tootsie Roll Drive. When asked what he would do with a new Ford Explorer, he said that he would put his wife in the vehicle! Lucky lady! Ticket #: 013027

SOUTHWEST AREA
Floyd Deidiker: Floyd purchased 4 tickets from Bill Nichols. They were the last four tickets that Bill had left to sell. Bill is a former Grand Knight of the KOC council 9892. Floyd is the current Grand Knight for this council and has been a part of Special Olympics for the past several years. He firmly believes in our programs and in our athletes. He shared that he never wins anything and is excited that he is one of the area finalists! He would probably faint if he won the Ford Explorer. Ticket #: 018782

KANSAS CITY AREA
Terry Brown: Terry purchased 10 tickets online through Facebook or Instagram. He enjoys sports and is familiar with Special Olympics Missouri as a volunteer and donor. They are in the market to replace one of their vehicles, and the Ford Explorer would be a great fit. Ticket #: 012120

ST. LOUIS AREA
Fran Sokolowski: Fran purchased one ticket from a police officer during the Shop ‘n Save t-shirt sale at their Florissant location. She is familiar with Special Olympics, generously supporting our athlete’s through contributions. She only drives short distances and would most likely share the vehicle with her family! Ticket #: 038302

Al Rodriguez: Al purchased two tickets from an O’Fallon police officer during our Dunkin Donuts Cop on Top event in May. He understands the importance of sports and activity in the lives of children and enjoys seeing the smiles on their faces when they compete. When asked what he would do if he won the Ford Explorer, he shared that it will be an upgrade to one of their vehicles. Ticket #: 003246

Thanks to the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association for generously donating a 2018 Ford Explorer for our Drive it Home Raffle this year.

Missouri Prop D: Special Olympics awards NOT taxed

After following “Missouri Proposition D, the Gas Tax Increase, Olympic Prize Tax Exemption, and Traffic Reduction Fund Measure,” in the news and in some Letter to the Editor sections across the state, it appears there has been some confusion on how it relates to Special Olympics athletes and the medals they win at their competitions. The ballot measure mentions that a “yes” vote (among other things) “exempts prizes for Special Olympics, Paralympics, and Olympics from state taxes.”

Special Olympics athletes are not currently taxed for winning any awards.

Special Olympics is an international sports organization in more than 170 countries that provides sports training and competition, health and wellness programs, and leadership and life training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In Missouri, we serve more than 15,400 athletes every year through more than 250 trainings and competitions around the state.

Our athletes train for weeks and months at a time, honing their skills as much as possible before competition. They will then have the opportunity to compete against others and earn a bronze, silver or gold medal. These awards mean a lot to our athletes and are proof to themselves and the rest of the world that they can train and compete just like any other world-class athlete.

Special Olympics Missouri athletes do not have to pay any tax on awards they win in any competitions, including the local, regional, state, national or world level. In fact, Special Olympics athletes are not awarded cash prizes at any level of competition.

Special Olympics Missouri is a non-political organization as a 501c3 charity. We are not commenting on what way people should vote on Prop D, but we felt it was important to make sure the public understood that Special Olympics Missouri athletes are not taxed in any way for their prizes.

Thank you,
Mark Musso, President/CEO
Special Olympics Missouri

Health & Wellness at the TLC

What does it mean to have a sound mind, body and spirit? For Larin Bryant-McCanse, these are the key elements to becoming a healthy athlete.

Larin 1Larin is an active athlete from Kansas City, Missouri. Through Larin’s involvement with Special Olympics and competitions in area and state games, he has had the opportunity to participate in multiple Healthy Athlete activities.  Special Olympics has been able to assist him with resources to improve his hearing, physical therapy and overall health.  “It has given him peace of mind. Larin is growing each day by talking more and more with his friends and family,” said Britani Harrelson, Larin’s sister.

Larin’s insurance does not offer assistance for hearing aids and his severe hearing loss has been a barrier to his overall personal growth on and off the playing fields. Through the Healthy Athletes initiative, Larin’s family was linked to Dr. Jennifer Shoemaker, who helped them explore the opportunities in obtaining hearing aids.  Dr. Shoemaker was able to connect with the Starkey Foundation to secure not one, but two hearing aids for Larin.

“We cannot begin to express enough gratitude for the assistance and support we have received from not only Special Olympics, but from Healthy Athletes, and Dr. Shoemaker,” said Tammy Harrelson, Larin’s sister-in-law. “This past year has been a game changer for Larin and his overall growth for a sounder mind, body and spirit.”

This process has helped change Larin’s life and it continues to provide a more positive and healthy future for him. “Healthy Athletes has given Larin the opportunity to be himself once again and shine as an amazing individual,” said Tammy.

The Training for Life Campus, located at 305 Special Olympics Drive, is a facility that will serve current and future Missouri athletes with intellectual disabilities. It is the first facility of its kind in the world, with the purpose of enriching the lives of our athletes. The campus will function as a lifelong community hub and center, and will inspire a new drive in our athletes so that they may continue to develop the physical and social skills they need to be as productive and independent as possible. Not only will our athletes learn the lessons of sport and life that inspire each one of us, but they learn to adopt a whole new lifestyle centered around health and wellness. The campus is designed to accommodate training, practice and competitive events for some of SOMO’s most popular sports programs, including a track, wellness trail, basketball court, soccer field and multi-sport training areas. It will offer year-round training opportunities for athletes, coaches and volunteers from throughout Missouri.

In addition to the multi-sport activities, the campus will also provide athletes free healthcare screenings in the new clinical screening rooms through our improved Health and Wellness program. The four rooms consist of: Healthy Hearing, Special Smiles, Opening Eyes and Fit Feet. Each room is designed and equipped to give the athletes a true experience of a visit to the doctor’s office, but in a welcoming and fun environment. Everything from a receptionist desk and waiting area, to a fully equipped dental chair, an eye exam refractor and a brand new sound booth is provided for our athletes at the Training for Life Campus.

The Healthy Hearing program is changing lives in communities across the globe by providing free hearing screenings and other medicals services, such as: ear wax removal, swim molds, hearing aid maintenance and minor repairs for people with intellectual disabilities. The amount of ear problems and hearing loss among Special Olympics athletes is greater than that found in the general population. Most athletes’ hearing problems are previously undetected, unserved or under-treated. Hearing loss negatively impacts communication ability, quality of life, social interactions and health. The purpose of the Healthy Hearing screenings is to increase access to hearing care for Special Olympics athletes, as well as individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Special Smiles is the dental health discipline that provides athletes with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to take charge of their oral health. This program provides comprehensive oral health care information, offers free dental screenings and instructions on correct brushing and flossing techniques, as well as, providing preventative supplies like toothpaste and a toothbrush. The Special Smiles screenings have found that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes are unaware of the condition of their oral health.

The Opening Eyes program is making a wide impact throughout communities by providing free eye assessments, prescription eyewear, sunglasses and sports goggles to Special Olympics athletes. The goal of this program is to collect and analyze screening data in order to raise awareness and to advocate for improved eye care for people with intellectual disabilities. Springfield coach, Kristin Knapton, expressed just how helpful the Opening Eyes program is. “A lot of our athletes really benefit from the free eye exams and getting free glasses. Many of them do not get this opportunity due to their backgrounds and family situations, so this definitely provides a need that is there. It’s an amazing opportunity that you just don’t see anywhere else.”

Fit Feet offers podiatric screenings to evaluate ankles, feet, lower extremity biomechanics, and proper shoe and sock gear to athletes. Many athletes suffer from foot and ankle pain, or deformities that impair their performance. The mission of Fit Feet is to improve the quality of life and the long-term health of Special Olympics athletes as well as people with intellectual disabilities and to increase access to foot care.

The screening rooms will be staffed by volunteer health professionals as a part of our Health & Wellness program to promote our athletes’ overall health and educate our athletes, coaches and families. We are always working hard to grow our group of referral/follow up care providers. As a provider we encourage you to reach out.

In 2015 there were 437 total screenings provided, 2016 there were 1588 screenings and in 2017 there were 1811 screenings provided. You can see the number of screenings has increased steadily over the past three years. With our new health screening rooms, we look forward to growing this and are excited to be expanding our Health and Wellness program. The free screenings will be offered not only at all three of the state games but during the year-round training camps as well.

In addition to the four screening rooms, we offer MedFest. The goals of MedFest are to provide free sports physicals and other health screening services to people with intellectual disabilities and to recruit new athletes to Special Olympics. There are more than 15,400 Special Olympics Missouri athletes who participate each year. Before they can step on the field, they are required to have a comprehensive sports physical. Therefore, MedFest was created to offer the physical screenings the athletes need prior to participating. It is sometimes the first exposure these athletes have to medical care. In many cases, life-threatening conditions have been found and treated thanks to MedFest.

Another part of our Health and Wellness program is Health Promotion, which uses interactive educational tools and displays, motivational literature and demonstrations to raise the awareness of Special Olympics athletes about the need to improve and maintain an enhanced level of wellness and self-care. Through this program, athletes are interviewed to assess their health habits, and conducts health screenings in the following areas: BMI (body mass index), BP (blood pressure) and BMD (bone mineral density). Health Promotion provides a positive, interactive and engaging environment to help athletes learn how small changes in their behavior can help them improve and maintain good health and sports performance.

We are excited to be able to take our health education to the next level and provide a comprehensive all-inclusive Health and Wellness program for our athletes. The Special Olympics Missouri Health and Wellness program promises to develop and foster a healthy community by achieving inclusive health and wellness opportunities for all people with intellectual disabilities, which includes, but is not limited to health care, education, resources and services. This program is designed to help Special Olympics Missouri athletes improve their health and fitness in their daily lives.

We hope to continue to grow our Health and Wellness program by growing current and developing new health and wellness partnerships to provide our athletes with a quality all-inclusive medical care. We always welcome volunteers and are excited to take health and wellness here at Special Olympics Missouri to the next level.

If you would like to get involved in the Health and Wellness program please contact Meagan Davis, Health and Wellness Manager, or Carol Griffin, Partnership Manager.

Guest blog: Health Messenger Training in D.C.

Hodgson, Lynna_TrackAthlete-leader Lynna Hodgson of Lee’s Summit traveled to Washington, D.C., in late September to take part in a Special Olympics Health Messenger training. She took the trip with fellow athlete-leaders Allen Tobin and Lynn Shuffit and blogged about her experience. We have re-posted her personal blogs here with her permission.

Sept. 24:
Woke up at 5:30pm. Got everything ready and took care of the dogs. We picked up Allen Tobin at 6:45am. On our way to the airport to go to DC! Arrived at Washington DC at 11:30am. It’s now 3:48pm, and we are going on a tour. I’m looking forward to it! We went on a tour, and it was amazing! Saw some cool stuff! It’s 7:18pm, and I’m tired!

Sept. 25:
Woke up at 7:30am and ate breakfast. It’s 12:47pm, just finished lunch, we had salmon, salad, rice and Caesar salad. In the morning, we had training and it was really good! At 5:30 p.m., the session ended, and a group of us are going on a tour. But first, we went to dinner. I learned a lot today, we made up our own workout, put things like (oranges, strawberries etc in our water, talked about stretching, what being healthy means, emotionally and physically.  And we played a few games. It was a good day. It’s 10:24pm, been back from the tour for an hr. It was a blast! Was great weather for it too! Saw the White House from a far! But I still got a good pic. There was a group of us who went on a tour. It was very nice and educational. Another full day tomorrow!

Sept. 26:
Woke up before my alarm, just a few minutes. It’s 7:27am. Ready for more training. In the afternoon today I will talk about my practicum. A little nervous about that but I know I will be fine!  Wow!! What a day I had! I presented today, visited another museum and at seafood! Yum! I worked on my practicum in the morning and presented it at the afternoon. Listened to some of the other athletes practicum and they all had great ideas! After all of that, went to a museum, this museum was about NASA, it was really neat, then after that we met up with Allen, had a dinner at seafood place, fresh seafood, you can’t get better than that!! Then after that came back to the hotel and chatted with some friends, took pics, then I’m going to pack for tomorrow, our flight isn’t that early, so that’s good! It’s 8:05pm and I’m already for bed!

Sept. 27:
It’s 9:05am. I’m on the airplane to go back to KC! My dad woke me up at 7:30am, my alarm did not go off, I figured why the alarm did not go off, because the alarm was on a different day, good one Lynna! Lol. We had breakfast at the airport, it was really good! I had a hard time going to sleep last night. I really don’t know why. But it’s okay.  We landed at Kansas City at 11am. Allen and I claimed our suitcases and my dad went to get the van. We waited for dad, there was miss communication with dad and I. I really need to work on that. We dropped Allen off to his house. On our way home, dad listened to one of his favorite singers (back in the day) lol. When we got home, I was welcomed with big kisses from my dogs (Winston & Henry) and got a big hug from my mom. It was so good to see them! I had to unpack quickly, I had to pack for the special Olympics Missouri Outdoor Games, I’m really excited for the weekend! Excited to see my friends I don’t see very often, and the Team Missouri 2018 reunion.  Ok I’m sorry..I’m getting off topic, now I’m going to talk about my first conference for Healthy Athlete Messenger! Okay here it goes:

What I liked: meeting new people from different states, I even met some people from Canada! Learned a lot of new information. Exploring DC! Eating fresh seafood! Making new friends. Breakfast and lunch was really good and healthy! I liked to stay in a hotel room by myself (I felt more independent) What I did not like: I would prefer more breaks (but I understand why they didn’t have too many breaks through sessions),  I would like to have handouts of what we talked about and on who presented. Other than that, I thought it was REALLY awesome! Now I have to do my practicum, wish me good luck! I wish my fellow health messenger athletes good luck while they are doing their practicum.

Guest blog: Thomas Cleek plays golf with the pros

Cleek, Thomas_GolfThomas Cleek, 18, of Columbia, recently traveled to New Jersey as part of the United PGA Experience at Northern Trust. He had the chance to meet up with old friends, make new ones and receive golf tips from PGA Tour pros. He wrote a blog about his experience.

Day 1  – Aug. 21
Had a great flight on United Airlines to New Jersey. When mom and I landed in New Jersey we met up with Lauren that works for Special Olympics; she got us a ride to the hotel. The cool thing was when we were about to go eat dinner, all my buddies showed up that I met in Seattle at USA Games. Dinner was really good and I had great time visiting with my friends. After dinner went down to the pool with some of my buddies and hung out there for a awhile.

Day 2 – Aug. 22
On the way to the golf course and back we had PGA cars come pick us up to go to the golf course and take us back to the hotel; it was so cool. When I got to Ridgewood Country Club, we were given a locker where the PGA players were. I got to see Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth. I also got to participate in a clinic with PGA Professional coaches that helped me on my golf game. Then we went on the putting green and saw Tommy Fleetwood and other golfers. The best part of the day was I got to play three holes with  professional golfer James Hahn. He was so much fun to play with and talk to too. The advice that James gave me was unbelievable advice that I never heard of. I asked him “How do you handle nerves?” He told me, “ I just stick to what I can do and believe myself and breathe.”

Day 3 – Aug. 23
I got the chance with other Special Olympics athletes got to go see the first round of the Northern Trust Open. The experience was super cool to spend it with all the athletes and they also got to see professional golf in person which is super cool. The other cool thing was that we got to watch the tournament from the United Airlines VIP Suite. The food  was super good. I would just like to say thank you for providing food for me that I can eat for the days that we were at the golf course. After the golf tournament we had dinner with Peter Condon’s family then we hung out with them in their room afterward.

Special Olympics Missouri President and CEO Announces Retirement

Allen Mark Arthur

SOMO President & CEO Mark Musso, center, with SOMO athletes Allen Tobin and Arthur Murphy at the 2015 Unified Relay Across America

(Jefferson City, Mo.) Special Olympics Missouri President and CEO Mark Musso has announced his retirement effective March 31, 2019.

Mark Musso began his Special Olympics involvement in Kansas as a Key Club member. He then joined the Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games Management Team while pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management at Wichita State University. He received his Master of Business Administration in Organizational Behavior from Wichita State University. Upon moving to Minnesota, Musso began his paid career with Special Olympics as the Games Operations Director for the 1991 International Summer Games. After a brief stop as Minnesota’s executive director, he accepted the position of President and CEO of Special Olympics Missouri in March 1991.

“Special Olympics has given me a life with purpose and passion, and I will forever be indebted to the thousands of athletes I have had the honor to meet,” Musso says. “I’m privileged to have been a part of the Special Olympics movement for the past 46 years and am excited to see what’s in store for the decades to come.”

Under Mark Musso’s leadership, Special Olympics Missouri has:

• Built financial stability as an organization recognized with these honors: Better Business Bureau A+ Charity Accreditation, Charity Navigator 3-star rating and Guidestar Gold Level.
• Restructured state programs and created full-time Area Directors to run local and area programs.
• Added Unified Sports, where athletes with and without intellectual disabilities train and compete together.
• Added a Young Athletes™ program that introduces basic sport skills, such as running, kicking and throwing, to children ages 3 to 7 years old.
• Provided free health screenings and information to athletes through its Healthy Athletes® initiatives.
• Built Athlete Leadership Programs, which empower our athletes to be advocates and public speakers spreading the message of the power of Special Olympics to change lives.
• Opened the Training for Life Campus in Jefferson City — the first facility in the world specifically designed to improve the health, wellness and fitness of Special Olympics athletes.

“SOMO is one of the top Special Olympics programs in the world because of Mark Musso and his team,” says SOMO’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Don Spears. “Mark’s leadership has created a culture of inclusion for our athletes that extends beyond the playing field.”

Beyond Missouri, Mark has shared his leadership with the entire Special Olympics movement in his role as a Director for the Special Olympics USA management team, as Vice Chairman of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Executive Council, as a former Chair of the U.S. Leadership Council, as a former chair of the U.S. Finance and Development Committee and as a U.S. representative on the North American Leadership Council.

The Special Olympics Missouri Board of Directors has begun a nationwide search for Mark Musso’s successor. The next President and CEO will be responsible for leading the organization into the next 50 years and expanding engagement throughout the state to further the inclusion of and provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. The application process will be announced soon.