SOMO recognizes first ‘School of Character:’ Pleasant Hope H.S.

DSC_0107.JPGSpecial Olympics Missouri staff is proud to recognize Pleasant Hope High School and its student council as the non-profit’s first School of Character Award of Merit recipient for the 2015-16 school year.

This award was established in conjunction with SOMO’s partnership with the Missouri Association of Student Councils to recognize those schools that went above and beyond for the athletes of Special Olympics Missouri and the students in their school who have an intellectual or developmental disability.

It is the highest level of recognition for one school in the state based on their outstanding commitment to individuals with intellectual disabilities, showing they have a true understanding of unity and a passion for raising awareness and funds for local SOMO athletes.

Schools can earn points based on a variety of different things, including:

  • Hosting and/or volunteering at a local Special Olympics Missouri event
  • Organizing a Young Athletes program for athletes ages 3-7
  • Starting a Unified Sports team at your school where people without intellectual disabilities play on the same team as SOMO athletes who have an intellectual disability
  • Having a student council member become a SOMO coach
  • Raising funds through Over the Edge, Polar Plunge or any other fundraising initiative

Pleasant Hope High School was recognized at its May 12 board of education meeting by Trish Lutz, SOMO’s senior director of programs with a plaque presentation.

“Pleasant Hope High School has always been a strong supporter of Special Olympics Missouri,” Lutz said. “The students of Pleasant Hope High School lead by example through acceptance, respect and inclusion for all.

“Jacob Conklin deserves a tremendous amount of credit for instilling compassion and understanding into the students that he mentors.”

Conklin, Pleasant Hope’s student council advisor and special education teacher, was on-hand to accept the award with some of his students.

“It is inspiring to see young people so eager to serve and volunteer to benefit other people,” Conklin said. “For these students it is not about padding their college or scholarship applications, they volunteer because they have a passion, a belief, that they can help improve the lives of people around them.

“We have students that change their future goals after volunteering for Special Olympics Missouri. They want to become special education teachers, physical therapists, speech pathologists, coaches and mentors. I can’t help but think that the lessons these students learn volunteering are more impactful than the lessons learned in the classroom.”

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

Missouri Association of Student Councils Celebrates 25 Years of Friendship

duck pictureWhat started as a way for youth leaders in Missouri to volunteer their time and learn about inclusion 25 years ago has grown into a relationship between Special Olympics athletes and their peers in hundreds of schools across the state.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the partnership between The Missouri Association of Student Councils (MASC) and Special Olympics Missouri. To celebrate the 25 years of friendship, MASC held a celebration during their State Convention on March 11 at Platte City High School.

The theme for the celebration was “Stand With.” MASC stands with SOMO to:
• Promote inclusion and accept in their schools
• Volunteer an average of 12,000 hours a year across the state
• As Fans in the Stands at local, area, regional and state events
• Serve in leadership roles on Games Management Teams and Plunge Committees
• Raise funds to support the 15,000 athletes – since 2009 when MASC started making the Plunge their primary fundraising opportunity – they have raised $939,287.85. By 2017, in less than 10 years, they will easily reach the $1 million mark!

Here’s a video that MASC made to celebrate our 25-year friendship.

“Let the celebration continue!” Terri Johnson, MASC Executive Director, says. “MASC feels a sense of pride and accomplishment when we can share we’ve been a SOMO partner for 25 years! From the beginning, our goal was to provide opportunities for our schools to volunteer, but it has grown into so much more. From developing friendships to finding ways to advocate for inclusion and acceptance and assisting with fundraising, our goals have widened. MASC is proud to “Stand With” Special Olympics Missouri! We cherish the opportunity to be a partner and feel our membership has learned the importance of what it means to be a friend to those with intellectual disabilities. We plan to continue our partnership for many years because we realize together we can inspire greatness, serve others, be more and lead!”

Thank you MASC. We are proud to be your friend and partner in making the world a better place for all!

Law Enforcement Torch Run Celebrates 30th Anniversary

1st poster photo - LuetkemeyerLaw enforcement officers serve selflessly every day to keep our communities safe places to live, work, and play. In partnership with Special Olympics Missouri, law enforcement officers are participating in the 30th Anniversary Law Enforcement Torch Run across our state.

Each year, more than 2,000 officers carry the torch on a relay through the state. The culmination of this incredible journey will take place at our State Summer Games in Springfield on May 20. The final torch will be handed off in celebration of 30 years and the constant light that Special Olympics athletes give through their inner and outer strength.

This beautiful symbol of unity brings together communities and individuals of different backgrounds and abilities to celebrate the best in each of us. We cherish the relationships that the Torch Run builds each year. Thank you to all of our law enforcement officers for your bravery every day in protecting us, and thank you for all your efforts in support of Special Olympics Missouri.

30 years – one decade at a time

(First in a three–part series)

1986: Ralph Biele was a patrolman with the Missouri State Highway Patrol trying to think of a way to raise money for Special Olympics. In 1984 and 1985, there was an annual “Missouri Run for Special Olympics.” For two years, about 100 runners raised about $4,500. He thought, “How can we make this bigger?” He knew he had the support of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who was integral from the beginning. They provided everything from financial donations from employees and photography support, to runners and support vehicles.

Watch Ralph describe the early days.

It wasn’t that it didn’t raise money – but they were working really hard and not getting very far. Ralph knew that in order to make it happen, he needed to get a more broad-based support. He approached the Missouri Police Chiefs Association about SOMO and growing the support from law enforcement. They voted in 1986 to make Special Olympics Missouri part of the Association’s efforts, and gave birth to the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The next five years hovered right around $40,000!

The first 5 years of LETR: runners, agencies, gross $
1986: 87, 35, $15,000
1987: 135, 40, $33,000
1988: 116, 40, $42,000
1989: 143, 42, $40,000
1990: 145, 44, $38,146

early years torch handoffHistory was captured in the spring edition of the Patrol News annually. Page 7 reported the results of the 5th annual run (1990), stating 44 police agencies participated and raised $40,000. Employees were encouraged to donate and “set an example” for others to follow. The MSHP was leading from the beginning.

During the seventh year, T-shirt sales were introduced and the Torch Run fundraising efforts expanded beyond the run itself. The idea was for agencies to host their own fundraising events and donate the proceeds to Special Olympics. These funds were literally brought to the site of the State Summer Games each year, held at Fort Leonard Wood. The Ramada Inn was the site of the pre-game meal, “fried fish and all of the trimmings,” hosted by Lou and Shirley Prentiss, retired Commanding General of the Fort. This was a long-running tradition. Even though runners didn’t like the idea of running (after the meal) the nearly 5 miles to the main gate, they still did it! The Army Military Police accepted the torch at the gate, and as a group, they proceeded to the site of the Opening Ceremony.

Committee Chair / Agency
1986 – 1990 Mel Fisher and Ralph Biele, Mo. State Highway Patrol
1991-1992 Chief Robert Scheetz and Dave Heath, St. Louis Metro PD
1993 – 1994 Chief Mike Snavely, Rolla PD
1994 – 1996 Chief Clarence Harmon and Sgt. Rich Banahan, St. Louis Metro PD
Colonel Ron Battelle and Lt. David Pudlowski, St. Louis County PD

In 1994, a phenomenon happened that got everyone really excited. Officers from 81 different agencies raised more than $100,000 for the first time! The announcement brought shouts of exclamation and joy when $124,392 was announced! T-shirt sales soared to over 4,800 shirts. 1995 rounded out our first decade with an awesome increase to $207,885. More than 10,000 T-shirts were sold!

Q&A: Paula & Greg Burns – 2015 Outstanding Volunteers

We wanted to expand on our posts from last month that singled out our area award winners and eventual statewide winners in all of the categories (athlete, family, volunteer and coach). This week we catch up with Paula and Greg Burns from the North Area. Here’s an excerpt from their nomination form with their Question and Answer segment below.

They started out as day-of volunteers at local events. Staff noticed a great potential with both of them, so they were asked to be on the Polar Plunge committee, then venue coordinators, and the relationship has grown from there. Paula and Greg are key members on the Polar Plunge committee, being there from the first committee meeting to the day of the event to set-up, tear down and wrap-up meeting. Paula is the head volunteer at the Plunge in the registration tent. Paula and Greg also travel around the state attending state games as venue coordinators for track & field, softball, basketball and bowling. They help staff all think outside the box and make the program grow each time they are involved. They volunteer for whatever is needed; whether it is loading the truck, selling souvenirs, raking the long jump pits, serving lunch or handing out medals, they have done it all.

Pic Greg & Paula Burns '15Q: How long have you been a SOMO volunteer?
A: 15-plus years

Q: What are some of the things you volunteer at?
A (Paula): I’ve volunteered at area, regional and state events across the state working in basketball, bowling, track and field. Plus, I help with fundraising in the North Area.  I’ve helped with the Duck Race, Polar Plunge and now our new event called Ladies Night Out.

A (Greg): Track, softball, bowling and Polar Plunge

Q: What made you first get involved?
A (Paula): My sister,  Susan Shaffer who works for SOMO as the competition director.

A (Greg): My wife started helping and I went along to help her. I think she was talked into helping because her sister Susan Shaffer worked for the organization.

Q: Why have you stayed involved all these years?
A (Paula): Because of the friends I’ve made with the athletes.  I want the athletes to be able to participate in sports for health and social skills.

A (Greg): Mainly because I have a good time helping out and meeting all kinds of people which makes lasting friendships

Q: What’s your favorite SOMO memory as a volunteer?
A (Paula): We were volunteering in Jeff City at the state softball tournament several years back.  Before the game started the coaches were talking on the softball mound. One of the coaches had mentioned that one of his little players (his name was Jon) had not gotten a hit all year and was feeling down. When it was Jon’s turn to bat, the other team called time out. The coach called his players to mound to have a conversation. After he was done talking with players, he went over to Jon at the plate. In the coach’s hand was a bat. He told Jon that this was a special bat,  once used by Superman. And that it had special powers. Jon’s eyes lit up. He decide to use the bat. The first pitch came down the middle of the plate and, swing and miss. The next pitch was a line drive up the middle thru the pitcher’s legs.  Jon ran to first, someone had thrown the ball over the 1st baseman head.  The coach told Jon to run to second base.  Then Jon ran from 2nd to 3rd and finally on home.  He had gotten a homerun with Superman’s bat. We was so excited. The crowd was cheering very loudly. Superman had saved the day. As you can imagine, there wasn’t a dry eye anywhere. There are a lot more memories but this one stands out as the best.

A (Greg): Watching my daughter who was a Unified Partner and the athlete she was paired up with win a gold medal at the 2010 National Games in Lincoln, Neb.

12473527_10208032452556398_6826551132310829192_oQ: What piece of advice would you give someone interested in volunteering with SOMO for the first time?
A (Paula): Just try it once, the athletes will win you over. If you like to give hugs you’re in the right place.

A (Greg): Go in with an open mind and just have fun. The smiles on everyone’s face will brighten your day.

Q: What was going through your mind when you found out the two of you were named SOMO’s 2015 Outstanding Volunteers?
A (Paula): It’s not about me. I’m just doing what I love to do. I do it for the athletes.

A (Greg): I was taken aback as I never figured to even be considered as I do this just to help give back and have fun along the way.


Jessica Jansen named statewide Outstanding Athlete, others honored

All of the athletes below were recognized for their outstanding contributions to Special Olympics Missouri from their respective areas at the SOMO Annual Awards Luncheon Jan. 16 in Branson. Each year, Special Olympics Missouri salutes those who have made significant contributions to the Special Olympics movement. Each area nominee is submitted for statewide recognition, and the overall winners were also announced at the SOMO Leadership Summit.

Jessica Jansen is a SOMO athlete, but more importantly, she’s a leader. Jessica competes in SOMO sports year-round, playing basketball, bowling, track & field, bocce and volleyball. Not only is she an outstanding athlete on the court, she is a huge advocate for Special Olympics year-round as well. In this past year alone, Jessica spoke at several Knights of Columbus meetings to ask for their support of the new Training for Life Campus. She also gave a speech alongside her Unified Partner, Ivy Tinnin, at the Shop ‘n Save golf tournament gala. Last, but certainly not least, Jessica used the courage and confidence she had gained from these experiences with Special Olympics to give a speech at her high school graduation! Jessica embodies what the mission is all about by demonstrating courage, experiencing joy and participating in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Anyone who has had the opportunity to witness Jessica speak can tell you she has an amazing story and a contagious smile! She recently attended the first Special Olympics Missouri Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs) University, where she declared a major in communications and committed to continuing to be a leader in her community by telling her Special Olympics story.

Throughout the 20-plus years of participation in Special Olympics, Matt Hood has been a part of countless competitions and events, and has also overcome many obstacles. When Matt was younger and first introduced to Special Olympics, one hurdle he had to jump was a condition called atlantoaxial instability. This condition held Matt back from participating in many Special Olympics sports, but he didn’t let it stand in his way. Matt attended the 1995 World Games as a member of the Missouri soccer team. In 2013, Matt was chosen to be on Team Missouri’s volleyball team. It was during a practice that the coaches noticed that he was favoring his left leg. He had to undergo another serious surgery in 2014 to decompress his spinal cord. As a result, Matt had to relinquish his spot on Team Missouri that year. This left Matt very disheartened, but again, this did not hold him back. It took quite some time to recover, but Matt made sure to always be a part of Special Olympics. Whether it was helping out at fundraising events or cheering on his fellow teammates and friends while competing, Matt has always been a team player. Matt is back on the volleyball court, his movement is limited, but he always does the best he can. Matt will also participate in bocce, basketball and swimming, his strongest sport. Throughout everything Matt has gone through, he has shown much perseverance and is truly an inspiration. His parents feel that if it wasn’t for Special Olympics, they wouldn’t have noticed in time that Matt needed help and he wouldn’t be the athlete he is today. Matt shows strength and determination in everything he participates in.

Allen Tobin has been an outstanding athlete in Special Olympics Missouri for 22 years. Over the years, he has competed in almost all of the sports SOMO offers and has excelled on the playing field, earning more medals than he can count! Allen was lucky enough to be selected to be part of the Special Olympics USA – Missouri softball team that won the silver medal in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Being able to bring a silver medal and all the memories from LA back home to Missouri is one of his proudest accomplishments. Not only does Allen find joy in competing in Special Olympics, he has also taken advantage of many of the other opportunities that have been presented to him. He always jumps at the opportunity to help set up or tear down an event. Most times you don’t even have to ask him to load 10-foot bocce pipes in the dead of summer or roll up carpet from a sandy Polar Plunge beach in the freezing cold. He has also taken an active role in being a committee member for the Jimmie’s Miles for Medals event that raises money for Kansas City athletes. Allen was recently trained as a Global Messenger and has taken the skills he learned in the training to deliver exceptional speeches about his experiences with Special Olympics. With his GM training and being part of the SOMO Class of 2015, Training for Life Campus staff members know they can count on him to attend any presentation or fundraising campaign to help promote the TLC. He has also taken the leadership skills he has learned and applied them to the SOMO TV production team as a reporter. There really isn’t anything that Allen won’t jump in and do; he likes to try things out of his comfort zone and is always willing to help out the team!

Charlie moved to Savannah less than a year ago. It didn’t take him long to make friends and for an entire school to get to know him. He joined the high school wrestling and football teams while also being a part of the Special Olympics powerlifting and flag football teams. His coaches constantly comment on his positive, “Never give up,” “I can do anything” attitude. Charlie immediately made an impact on his Special Olympics teams, his school, and his community. He is always supportive, happy and determined. Charlie gives meaning to the term sportsmanship and defines character. He is a friend, teammate and an example of how just one person can make a positive influence and bring unity to so much more than just a high school. When he is not participating in sports, he volunteers for many Special Olympics events. Charlie is a new member of the Youth Activation Committee in the North Area and is very excited to start spreading the word of inclusion in his school and community.

Tim has participated in Special Olympics for more than 10 years, playing basketball, track and field and softball. Tim is a model athlete; he always has a smile on his face every time you see him. He is also a very loyal and dedicated athlete to Special Olympics. Tim is always asking his coaches and others how he can help. He is the first to show up and the last to leave. He is an outstanding fundraiser for Special Olympics. He has helped raise money for himself and his team to be able to participate at the 2010 USA Games and most recently 2015 World Games in Los Angeles. He participated in selling mums, softball fundraisers, restaurant nights, Knights of Columbus Tootsie Roll Drive and much more. He has a willingness to ask and the personality to gain the support of those he presents to. He asks not only for himself but for his teammates as well. At the 2015 World Games, he was so proud to represent this state and all Special Olympics athletes. Tim is a good athlete who sets a standard for others to follow. He has a positive attitude and helps all others he comes in contact with. He is an asset to every team he is on and he is certainly a huge asset to the Southeast Area.

Seth Dye has been participating in Special Olympics for more than 13 years. He competes in bowling, basketball and track and field. He also attends as many fundraisers as he can. This year he ran in the Unified Relay Across America and carried the torch. He is also trained a Global Messenger. Seth is a team player and shows amazing sportsmanship. He is the most kindhearted person that you could ever meet and shows this in everything that he does. Seth truly leaves a lasting impression on everyone who meets him. The Southwest Area is proud to have an athlete such as Seth. He is a role model for everyone.

Greg & Paula Burns named statewide Outstanding Volunteer, others honored

All of the volunteers below were recognized for their outstanding contributions to Special Olympics Missouri from their respective areas at the SOMO Annual Awards Luncheon Jan. 16 in Branson. Each year, Special Olympics Missouri salutes those who have made significant contributions to the Special Olympics movement. Each area nominee is submitted for statewide recognition, and the overall winners were also announced at the SOMO Leadership Summit.

12473527_10208032452556398_6826551132310829192_oNORTH AREA’S OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER: GREG & PAULA BURNS — STATEWIDE WINNER!
This husband and wife duo has volunteered for Special Olympics Missouri for more than 15 years. They started out as day-of volunteers at local events. Staff noticed a great potential with both of them, so they were asked to be on the Polar Plunge committee, then venue coordinators, and the relationship has grown from there. Paula and Greg are key members on the Polar Plunge committee, being there from the first committee meeting to the day of the event to set-up, tear down and wrap-up meeting. Paula is the head volunteer at the Plunge in the registration tent. Greg is always right beside Paula at the events doing whatever is needed behind the scenes. Paula has served on our Ladies Night Out committee for three years and has contributed so many ideas to grow this event, which doubled in its second year. Greg is there right along Paula, setting up tables, moving chairs and ladders, bringing in our decorations and then he is a celebrity waiter for the evening.
Paula and Greg also travel around the state attending state games as venue coordinators for track & field, softball, basketball and bowling. They are at the celebrity softball game selling tickets, working gates, etc. They help staff all think outside the box and make the program grow each time they are involved. They volunteer for whatever is needed; whether it is loading the truck, selling souvenirs, raking the long jump pits, serving lunch or handing out medals, they have done it all.

Lisa Homco is one of those volunteers who doesn’t come along very often. Lisa has traveled from the St. Louis area to volunteer annually for the Central Area events of basketball, softball, bowling and the Polar Plunge in Columbia. She gives her time to Central Area wherever and whenever needed. She puts miles on her car to come and volunteer. Lisa does this all besides her full-time job (which often is well over 40 hours a week), volunteering for the St. Louis Metro Area, being an event coordinator for the state events and spending time with her family. Having Lisa around is very uplifting. She is enthusiastic and being around her it becomes easy to catch the feeling. She is a volunteer that “wants to get it right.” She asks questions and makes sure she knows the rules of the sport ahead of time. Lisa is also a volunteer who finds ways to help SOMO through matching grants and find others who would be interested in Special Olympics.


A long-time volunteer of Special Olympics both at the state and national level, Jacob Conklin is as dedicated of a volunteer as they come. He travels around the state several times a year training Global Messengers and has long been a proponent of starting an Athlete Leadership Programs University. His hard work and persistence in this aspect finally paid off in 2015 as we held our first ALPs University in November. We couldn’t have come even close to accomplishing this without his guidance and staunch support over the years. While he isn’t a coach of a team in his area, in 2015 he helped recruit 10 brand new coaches in an area that we’ve historically had trouble with recruiting coaches. He has served on our Games Management Team for our State Summer Games the past two years. Jacob has played a tremendous role in our Youth Activation Committee. He recruits youth to be involved and serves as a mentor. He values the importance of youth engagement in our area schools and communities. Jacob was also an asset to the overall restructure and planning of YAC in 2015.

David Ring is an exceptional volunteer in the KC Metro Area. He stepped into the role of being the main contact/lead for the Walmart Distribution Center about three years ago. In this role, he also serves on the Area Spring Games GMT. He has worked hard to make sure the transition from the previous contact was seamless on the SOMO side and that the Walmart volunteers always knew what was happening. The Walmart group runs the field event awards area. This past year they were asked to also take over the throwing events awards area, which almost doubled the amount of volunteers needed for them. David didn’t think twice and just said yes they would do it. David also serves on the GMT for our area basketball tournament and runs the 3-on-3 gym all day for this competition. He not only does this but also recruits and trains all the volunteers for this gym on event day. Each year, David and his team look for additional ways they can help with this event and make it easier for staff. He is working with staff to help provide lunches for more than 500 athletes, coaches and volunteers at the KC Metro basketball tournament in 2016.

Phil Henry is an outstanding volunteer because he is always willing to give his time to be an event manager not only at the St. Louis Metro Area events but also at state events and fundraising events as well. Just this year, Phil served as an event manager at the area basketball tournament, Area Spring Games, area bocce tournament, regional softball tournament, State Summer Games, State Outdoor Games and the area bowling tournament. He also volunteered his time at one of the bigger fundraising events, Over the Edge. He not only donated his time to make the event happen, he asked his friends and family to donate as well. He raised more than $1,000 and faced his fears to rappel down the 19-story building for Special Olympics athletes. Beyond donating his time at SOMO events, he planned his own golf tournament to raise money for Special Olympics Missouri. The golf tournament raised more than $6,000! Phil is the type of person who will make friends with every athlete and volunteer he encounters, making everyone feel welcome and excited to be there.


Chuck Hasty is about as enthusiastic of a volunteer as they come. He would also be considered one of the most enthusiastic school superintendents out there. Chuck is the very proud superintendent of Bismarck of Public Schools. As many volunteers get their start, he attended a track meet in Cape Girardeau with his students, where he was immediately hooked. He became relentless in wanting to get more of his students involved and he felt many of them could not attend in Cape because of the length of the travel. He approached staff about bringing the track meet up north to the Mineral Area Conference.
In April of 2015, SOMO hosted the MAAA Local Track Meet. The volunteers, coaches and sponsors were on fire that day as everyone could feel the energy in the air. Hasty has made a commitment to help his students and to help Special Olympics. He not only was the chairman of the planning committee, he also chaired the fundraising committee, raising more than $5,000 in fewer than three months just to get this event started. He made a commitment, he made a plan and he was very diligent in seeing it through. He has sacrificed a lot of personal time and work time to do this. He gives to us because of a love of the program, a love for his students and a pure desire to be sure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in Special Olympics competitions.


Andrea has been involved in Special Olympics since high school and was part of the Jeff City Youth Activation Council. Andrea is more than just a volunteer, she is an exceptional person. She also coaches and helps with anything that staff asks her to do, including Price Cutter Charity Championship. Andrea also helps with Victory Village at state events. She is a great asset to Special Olympics Missouri, not just to the Southwest Area. Andrea always has a smile on her face and truly loves the athletes. Nothing seems impossible for her. This year, she coached softball for the first time and was an amazing coach and role model for the athletes. She was a bit nervous, but everyone learned from each other. She had the time of her life. There are not enough words to describe her and enough ways to thank Andrea for what she does for Special Olympics Missouri and the Southwest Area.