John Owen Wins Drive It Home Raffle

Congratulations to our 2016 Drive it Home Raffle winner, John Owen of the St. Louis Metro Area! John purchased one ticket from staff member Jennifer Krumm at a walk in Old St. Charles. John has a disability and understand the impact that living with challenges holds. He and his wife, Karen are professional clowns. They have been to Special Olympics area games in the past and create balloon animals and do face painting. They have also been foster parents. John purchased the ticket because he dreams of having a new truck. They currently drive a 2003 Toyota Tundra. Winning Ticket Number: 043560

John was selected at the Tiger Tailgate, sponsored by Zimmer Communications Group, prior to the Mizzou vs. Arkansas football game on Friday, Nov. 25. Each of the eight finalists selected a car key in a random order, only one of which would be the correct key to open the door. John was the final person to select a key, so after watching the seven finalists’ keys fail to open the door, he knew that he would select the winning key. John was extremely excited to win the truck, and says he has never owned a new car before and plans on driving this truck until it can’t drive anymore!

Each finalist received $500. They are:

Southwest Area: Janet L. Johnson: Janet purchased 5 tickets from Phil Cook. She enjoys attending Area Spring Games, watching our athletes compete and the joy that they share with everyone. She especially enjoys when one of our athletes sings the National Anthem. She works with some of our athletes when they participate in adaptive P.E. classes and her husband officiates at some of our basketball competitions. She is thankful for the many opportunities she and her family have to connect to our athletes. She shared that one of their vehicles needs repairs that exceeds the value of the vehicle, so they are starting to search for a new one. If she one the truck, it would certainly help. Winning Ticket Number: 005895

KC Metro Area: Molly Bachand: Molly lives in North Carolina and purchased 4 tickets from her sister Sarah Bachand. She is the Equipment Director at Wake Forest for men’s and women’s basketball. She loves hearing about how inspiring the Special Olympics athletes are from her sister. She hopes to be able to volunteer at an event when she is back home for a visit! She is excited to be one of our finalists and shared that she plans to drive doughnuts in a field to celebrate if she wins the truck! Winning Ticket Number: 078550

Southeast Area: Paul Brewer: Paul purchased one ticket during the SEMO District Fair. Paul’s mom worked in the Special Education field at Texas State School as a nurse. He spent time with the students during the summer. He shared that he seems to know more and more people with intellectual disabilities and is happy to support our athletes. Paul shared that he had to sell his F-150 truck about a year ago and he misses it. He and his four boys will definitely enjoy the new truck if he wins. Winning Ticket Number: 115257

North Area: Maria Schoepke: Maria purchased her tickets from the parent of a Special Olympic athlete. Leah Shoemaker is the athlete. Maria works for the Health department and lives in St. Joe. She enjoys the area and is thankful for the opportunities we provide to athletes like Leah, who participates in several sports. Maria and her husband currently have a mini-van. She would really like a truck because they are useful for transporting things. If she is a winner, she is going to keep the truck and let her husband drive the mini-van. Winning Ticket Number: 083978

STL Metro Area: Kathleen Carapella: Kathleen purchased one ticket from Mary Wheeler at the Wentzville Flea Market. Her husband’s aunt has an intellectual disability and she used to participate in Special Olympics. When Kathleen was in high school she volunteered as a basketball coach and participated in basketball at the State Games in Fort Leonard Wood. Kathleen shared that the current truck they have is 13 years old and it would be great to have a new one! Winning Ticket Number: 053033

Central Area: Jason Crane: Jason purchased 2 tickets from a member of the Knights of Columbus, Wendell Quick. Jason works with Wendell at Continental Casting. He is a veteran who enjoys doing for others and giving to charity. While he doesn’t have a connection to Special Olympics he believes in our mission and is thankful for the work that we do to support individuals with disabilities. Jason is confident that most of our athletes can run faster than he can. Jason has never owned a new vehicle before and is not sure what he will do with a new truck, if he is the winner. Winning Ticket Number: 049706

The Drive It Home Raffle is a signature event of Special Olympics Missouri. We are honored to work with our statewide partners to make this event a success: Missouri Automobile Dealers Association, Shop ‘n Save and Law Enforcement Torch Run. Everyone can sell raffle tickets: law enforcement, athletes, coaches, family members, constituents, board members, auto dealers, etc., with several sales incentives available. Special thanks to Missouri Automobile Dealers Association for donating the F-150 truck that is the Grand Prize for this year’s raffle. Proceeds benefit SOMO’s 15,000 athletes who participate in sports year-round across the state.

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Be Brave: Go Over the Edge!

Sandy KarstenFor Lt. Col. Sandy Karsten of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, rappelling 13 stories down the Jefferson State Office building is a way to be more like Special Olympics athletes, who practice courage every day.

“If they can do it, I can do it,” she says.

Karsten is referring to Over the Edge, an adrenaline-pumped event in which participants raise $1,000 to rappel down a prominent building. Proceeds benefit Special Olympics Missouri.

“Have you ever gotten a hug from a Special Olympics athlete? If you’ve ever presented a medal, you see how happy they are and you celebrate the success with them,” she says. “You see what your dollar does for those special people. It gives you a good feeling to support them.”

Karsten’s colleagues had been participating in the Polar Plunge for years, but she declined because she does not do well with cold water. When she heard about Over the Edge, she felt like this was a good opportunity to take a more active role in raising funds. While $1,000 can seem like a daunting amount, Karsten says it’s mostly a matter of talking to people.

“Don’t be afraid to ask people,” she says. “I wear Special Olympics apparel – it’s a great conversation starter while you’re standing in line at the grocery store. I talk about my involvement with the (Law Enforcement) Torch Run. I’ve gone to people we do business with and told them about Special Olympics being our charity of choice. Most people are eager to assist.”

She says her department has hosted trivia nights, dunking booths, bake sales and poker rallies. They try to infuse fun into raising money, which helps them look forward to the event each year.

SandyThe event is offered in St. Louis and Jefferson City each fall. This year, participants have the choice of rappelling down the Jefferson State Office Building on Oct. 15 or the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch on Oct. 29. Both venues offer spectacular views and the opportunity to see the cities from a unique perspective.

“If you’re brave enough to turn to the side, you can see the governor’s mansion and the river,” she says. “If you can stand to look down, you can see your supporters down there.”

This bravery mirrors the bravery that Special Olympics athletes display each time they step onto the playing field. They’re overcoming stigma of having an intellectual disability and decades upon decades of stereotypes that have oppressed people like them. Special Olympics gives them the opportunity to shine, showcase their abilities and be celebrated for who they are.

Rappelling down a tall building can seem daunting, especially for anyone who has a fear of heights. Karsten has some advice for putting yourself in the right mental space before a rappel. She practiced by doing a rock climbing wall at her local YMCA.

“For everyone, there is a short training session, and that’s when I get nervous,” she says. “But that leaves after you feel comfortable with the harness and trust the rigging.   When you get up on the wall to go down, you just remember your training, and gravity takes care of the rest.”

Karsten says that talking about the event afterward is important as well. She lets people know how much fun she had and ensures that her donors feel appreciated.

“Now that I’ve done it three times, people ask me, ‘Hey are you rappelling for Special Olympics again?  How much is needed to put you Over the Edge?’”

You can learn more and register to participate in Over the Edge at www.somo.org/edge.

Choosing Person-First Language

By: Jacob Conklin

When people ask, and inevitably they do, about how I became involved with Special Olympics and special education I give a canned response based on the audience. It never fails though that someone always asks if it is because of a family member; maybe I have a brother, niece, cousin or even a parent with special needs. When I explain that I do not have a family member with a disability I usually receive the same response from everyone, nodding and saying “oh, okay.” This is followed by them tilting their head slightly with a look of bewilderment. I have always been troubled by this response because I never know how to take it, but at this point I accept that it will happen and move on.

The truth is I am involved in special education because of Special Olympics but there is not one defining factor that set me on this course but there are many AH-HA moments that have propelled me deeper down the rabbit hole. Most people would comment that I am naturally compassionate or maintain superhero levels of patience (I do not by the way, as my students can willing attest), I would say that my natural curiosity and desire to know people was the trait that led me here. To be completely honest, I was the kid, teenager, young adult who stared, gaze fully locked on the person in the wheelchair. This was followed up by a prompt tap on the head and a “stop, you are being rude” by a parent, sibling, teacher or friend. This cycle of natural curiosity matched with an attention getting rap to the head combined with “it’s rude to stare” started a long and twisted association of recognizing people with disabilities as being rude a gesture on my part and thus wrong, punishable by a quick finger strike to my head. As I look back on this mutated association I realize this is probably a typical story for most people. We were young, innocent and curious about the world around us. Incessantly asking our parents questions, “why is the sky blue”, “where do babies come from”, “why does that person use a wheelchair”, “why does he talk funny”, and “why does she look different?” No question was asked with malice or malicious intent, just childlike curiosity.

Jumping ahead two decades I was still the onlooker with hidden curiosity. However, I was too afraid to talk to that person in a wheelchair or anyone who had a visible disability, ashamed to want to know his or her story. It was far better to ignore and be ignorant than be rude. As I found myself toying with the idea of making a second career in the field of special education I discovered a concept that would change the way I perceived my world and how I thought about people with disabilities.

People-first language is a form of linguistic prescriptivism in English, aiming to avoid perceived and subconscious dehumanization when discussing people with disabilities, as such forming an aspect of disability etiquette.

The basic idea is to impose a sentence structure that names the person-first and the condition second, for example “people with disabilities” rather than “disabled people”, in order to emphasize that “they are people first”. Because English syntax normally places adjectives before nouns, it becomes necessary to insert relative clauses, replacing, e.g., “asthmatic person” with “a person who has asthma.” – Wikipedia

A veil had been lifted and I suddenly found solace in the idea that I should see the person before any other condition. It took time to change my language but by forcing myself to change the words I used. I changed my way of thinking about and how I saw people with disabilities. The language eventually became automatic and I began to embrace the curiosity that had been long repressed. No longer was I bound to the chain of thoughts “a disability… I am rude… must ignore”. Person-first language was eye opening and yet so simple, if I consciously change my words it would (and did) lead to me thinking and seeing people before the condition.

“Nick is learning disabled” would be a common phrase in my world of education. It bears no malicious intent but it is a statement with a sense of absoluteness. Saying “Nick IS learning disabled” is saying he is the condition, he is the disability; however using person-first language we would state that “Nick has a learning disability.” The difference is very subtle and to many it may even seem trivial. It was this small change that clicked with me. No longer was I focused on the condition, I could see the person and recognize the condition as an attribute of their whole.

I am not here to tell you how to speak or to assume the role of word police but to simply weave a narrative of how person-first language has been a very useful tool in my life. Person-first language is not the same as being politically correct, person-first language is much (can be) more substantial than just being PC. Full disclosure, I am aware of all the criticisms against using person-first language and how some advocacy groups or disability cultures abhor its use. Again, I am just trying to create a narrative about how utilizing person-first language has been a useful in my experiences.

If you are still with me I am sure you have asked or are asking yourself what does this have to do with Special Olympics. I am writing this menagerie of irreverence in hopes someone somewhere decides to supplement or enhance their Spread the Word program by using person-first language. One of the difficulties I have seen over the last 7 or 8 years of ban the r-word programming is that there is a disconnect between the impassioned few and the ill-informed mass. I have seen teenager and adult alike employ a wide spectrum of strategies to combat the use of the r-word. The disconnect is in us telling someone else they have done and are doing something wrong by using the r-word. People who generally mean well and use the r-word use it much the same reason a habitual swearer uses curse words. They lack a robust enough accessible vocabulary and the r-word much like cuss words easily fill the all those roles of speech, it can serve as a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. However, there is also the case of the educated person who still chooses to use it. To this I say we have to change the way people chose their words. I doubt the masses wake up and consciously decide “today I will try and use as many offensive words as possible.” So why are people using the r-word? I think back to times when I have said something I should not have and try to figure why I said it. How did I decide to use the words or words that I let slip from my mouth? I recognize I had control of my actions but I wasn’t consciously selecting each and every individual word that came forth. There was a level of automaticity to it; I knew what was coming or what I wanted to get across but sometimes certain words just come up as we look for other ones.

How do we change how we think or our subconscious word selection? The answer for me was people first language. If you find this as intriguing as I initially did, and continue to, I implore you to give it a try. It may take a few days, weeks, or even months but it has the potential to impact how you see people around you. My hopes are that in time you will share it with the people around you as I have with my students, colleagues, and friends who can attest to its affects.

For further information on

Person-first language:

http://www.disabilityisnatural.com/explore/people-first-language

http://www.thearc.org/page.aspx?pid=2523

Person-first language in writing and journalism

http://www.thearc.org/page.aspx?pid=2523

Linguistic Relativity

http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Sapir%E2%80%93Whorf_hypothesis.html

 Jacob Conklin is a special education teacher at Pleasant Hope R-VI School District in Pleasant Hope, Missouri. Conklin has interned with Special Olympics International and is a Student Council advisor.