2014 USA Games Team Missouri Newsletter — Post-games wrap-up

Post-games wrap-up newsletter

Now that we’ve hopefully all recovered from our trip to New Jersey, SOMO staff would like to formally congratulate and thank all of the athletes, coaches, Unified Partners and family members who made Team Missouri possible over the last year. It’s been an amazing ride that was over before we even knew it and one that we’re certainly proud to have been a part of.

We just had a few housekeeping notes to get out to all of you before we shut it all down on Team Missouri 2014.


Gary’s last note

I hardly know where to start as so many people involved in making this one of our greatest moments. I want to thank all of the parents who dedicated themselves to support us, from helping their athletes raise funds, to helping their athletes train, to transporting their athletes and others to practices and to being our fans at the games. And what wonderful fans we had at every venue. I know New Jersey will always remember “Show Me, Show Me, Show Me… MO, MO, MO!” You were awesome and so was our support from home. It was incredible and we thank you all.

Thanks to the coaches who dedicated themselves for the past year to prepare these athletes for the games, giving up their personal time to ensure that our athletes would do their very best. As I said in the last newsletter, Susan and I actually relaxed during the games and got to enjoy watching the athletes, because our coaches were so well prepared. They made sure every athlete took their medications got to bed and woke up on time and got them to their games on time as well. They washed clothes nearly every day and kept their money and personal belongings so they would not get lost and carried their credentials when they played. I was very proud to hear from our coaches how well they were prepared when compared to other states.

Our staff was exceptional. Johnathon making Walmart runs whenever it was needed and supporting the teams every day. Rachel Antal taking photos and assisting Brandon with writing up our daily newsletter and alerts. Brandon, who was everywhere, making sure that we had photos and video from each sport and staying up with Rachel to write the newsletter each night. What a great job they did of communicating our successes to everyone. Renee who took care of upset tummies, scrapes and bruises with all the care of a mother with her children. Tim, who drove the equipment to and from New Jersey for us and who ran errands as needed during the games. And most of all Susan Shaffer, the energizer bunny. I was almost blessed to have her and Genice lose their voices both at the same time — heaven! But I seriously could not have made it around without Susan. She went out early to prepare for our arrival and missed the send-off. We traveled to every venue and at times she was able to save me from collapsing by getting me a ride in a golf cart. What a great group to work with. I admire them all for how they dealt with all of our issues without complaint and had fun the entire time.

Above all I must recognize the athletes. They were phenomenal the entire trip. Never complaining, always smiling and enjoying every minute of every day no matter what the conditions. Whenever I would find myself wanting to curse a situation — believe me there were many — I would look at the example our athletes set and smile instead. At every turn our athletes made us proud. Whether they got the gold or finished with a ribbon they were proud and displayed their awards to everyone that would listen and pay attention. I was so very proud of all of them.

I must also thank Jennifer Rodvelt and Laurie Shadoan for the wonderful send-off they put together in St. Louis. It was awesome. And someone please thank all of the law enforcement officers for me. They made it special for all of us. On our arrival back in Missouri, we were treated to pizza and soda by board member Mr. and Mrs. Roger Gardner, which was arranged by Jennifer Brown. That was a so nice to have something to eat and drink, especially since we had not eaten since 4:30 a.m. And to all of our staff that supported us throughout the year, thank you. Those in the program that helped with arranging practices and those in development that helped with fundraisers and all the processing of the funds in the SOMO HQ Office.

I cannot forget Crystal Schuster. She made the week enjoyable for all of our families and fans in attendance by ensuring they were registered properly and getting all of the tons of information to them as soon as it came out. Thanks, Crystal for making this a great trip for our fans and for supporting us in the process.

Thank you all for making dreams come true. They did not give an award for the best sportsmanship of these games like they did in 2010 in Lincoln, but I’d bet my last dollar that the reason why is that they didn’t want to give it to Special Olympics Missouri two times in a row!

Team Missouri video

Wanting to relive all of your moments of glory on the field of competition? Be sure to check out (and share!) the Team Missouri 2014 video here.


Share your USA Games stories!

Now that the 2014 USA Games are over and done with, SOI wants to hear your stories from the Games, so be sure to log onto http:///www.specialolympics.org/share/ and tell your story about how you competed, traveled with the team or even followed along from home. It’s really quick and easy to do!


USA Games photos/videos

Just a friendly reminder that if you’re looking for USA Games photos, please be sure to check out our Flickr account. While there you will be able to download any high-resolution photos you may like. In addition to the ones Rachel and Brandon took throughout the week, there are also plenty of photos that the USA Games communications team took so be sure to check them out! Also don’t forget that some of our talented athletes took their turn with the GoPro last week and we uploaded their videos to our YouTube channel, so go check them out!


Mobile app

We hope that those of you who used our mobile app found it useful regardless of whether you were on site following the team or wanted to stay up to date back home. If you could be so kind as to take part in a really quick survey about the mobile app on the website, it would really help us figure out how to best serve our athletes and families moving forward. Thank you!


Text message alerts from USA Games

This message comes straight from the USA Games Healthy Athletes organizers, so please read:

The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program is trying to ensure that athletes who need follow up care from Healthy Athletes examinations are getting the care they need following HA. One way we are trying to do this is to follow up with athletes who received referrals from HA by sending them or their caregivers a text message after the event to remind them of the referral they received.

At USA Games, we asked athletes and their caregivers at Opening Eyes and Special Smiles if they would like to receive text messages from Special Olympics to remind them if they needed to seek further care after the Games. Next week, we will send text messages to athletes who had referrals at Opening Eyes or Special Smiles and opted in to receive text messages.

The messages will look like this:

Hi, Robyn. At Special Olympics USA Games, we asked you to see a dentist for treatment. Text back 1 if you made a dental appointment. Text back 2 if you did not.

Based on the response, there are subsequent messages that will go to the athletes in hopes this will prompt them to see a doctor/dentist.

The USA Games GOC is in the early stages of trying out this text message service and will use results and feedback from this pilot at the USA Games to continue to develop a system so eventually more SO Programs can use this service.


Donate to future Team Missouri delegates

Special Olympics Missouri athletes train year-round for sports competitions. With training and competitions in 21 Olympic-style sports, our athletes push hard and play harder. They strive to beat their personal bests, defying the odds again and again. From the local ballfields to the shining stage of the USA Games, from swimming to basketball, our athletes showcase the talents and triumphs of people with intellectual disabilities. You can be part of this exciting program, too.

Please donate to the training of Team Missouri athletes now and into the future by becoming a Team Missouri donor. You can donate online at https://somo.org/team-missouri-donors or by mailing your donation to: Special Olympics Missouri – Team Missouri, 1001 Diamond Ridge, Suite 800, Jefferson City, MO 65109.



2014 USA Games Team Missouri newsletter — Friday edition!

Friday: Let’s do it all over again

The rest of our teams finished up competition play today and then wrapped up the Games with an awesome Closing Ceremony. It was nice to see so many of our teams and families who had finished up competition the day before, out supporting the men’s and women’s basketball teams in their medal games today. There were lots of hugs and tears to go around after Closing when everyone knew we had reached the end a lot sooner than we all would have hoped.

Team Missouri Head of Delegation Gary Brimer said that it has been a wonderful week all around. “It was actually kind of relaxing for us, but that’s a testament to how well-prepared the coaches were,” Brimer said. “We couldn’t be more proud of our athletes regardless of how they placed in competition. It was a great team and a great time.”

Athletics –
Finished up yesterday!

The swim team finished up its competition schedule today with the following results:

Jennifer Neihouse: Gold in 25 breaststroke
Logan Hulett: Bronze in the 100 fly
Kirstin Carlson: Silver in the 1,000 free; silver in the 500 free

Basketball (men’s)-
The men played a very tight match in the bronze medal game against Indiana. They had a chance to tie the game with less than a minute left, but it just didn’t work out today. The team was emotional after the loss, but they were happy that so many people from Team Missouri showed up to watch the game and cheer them on. Congrats to the men’s basketball team for a great week of playing their hearts out.

Basketball (women’s)-
The women played in the gold medal game against Ohio this morning, but just couldn’t pull it off, so they took home the silver medal. This team has come a LONG way since the start of Training Camp last June and everyone on staff couldn’t be more proud of how this group of young women came together as a team. Great work, ladies!

Finished up yesterday!

While the bowling teams (regular and Unified) finished up competition on Thursday, they received their awards this morning. The results are as follows:

Regulation team of Ryan Fant, Tiffany Johnson, Michael Lunceford and Tiffany Wright: 4th place
Unified team of Amanda Geno, Lindsey Hawkins, Chris Miller and CJ O’Neal: Bronze

Flag Football-
Finished up yesterday!

Finished up yesterday! Coach Ken Neff said he was proud of how the team finished up and was grateful for all of the support parents and families have shown for our athletes.

Finished up on Tuesday!

Finished up yesterday!

Finished up yesterday and received their medals today.

Blog posts – 
“Its a bittersweet day as we get to the last day of USA games. It was another good night of sleep.  Brandon, Renee and I headed out to watch our girls basketball play for gold. There were lots of mo magic fans in attendance.”
See Rachel Antal’s (PR Assistant while at the 2014 USA Games) blog here.  

“The crowd was huge and loud for Team Missouri.”
See Linda Wiederholt’s (sports manager for powerlifting and tennis) blog here.

“It made me think about all of the people who have experienced Special Olympics for the first time this week. From the first-time volunteers, to the staff at the venues, to the bus drivers, and even the people we sat next to on the plane — we have spread the mission of Special Olympics far and wide this week. We have shown the nation that we are more alike than different; that our athletes are valuable members of society; that what really defines us is our character – not our IQ.”
See Mandi Steward Ballinger’s (sports manager for bowling) blog here.

See Jeremie Ballinger’s (Unified Partner in tennis) blog here.

Mobile App –
We hope that everyone enjoyed and took advantage of the mobile app this past week. Just remember that just because the Games are over, doesn’t mean the app is now going away. Still keep uploading your user photos to the photo gallery and be sure to look through all of the photos Rachel and Brandon took in the Flickr portion. The app doesn’t actually go down for another year, so be sure to keep using it as you’d like.

Videos –
Check out the video track and field athlete Danny Topete took while he was at Closing Ceremony!

Photo Galleries –
Photos from the sports and fun activities are available both on our Flickr account and on our Facebook page. They will be updated throughout the week so be sure to check in on a daily basis!

2014 USA Games Team Missouri newsletter — Thursday edition!

Thursday: End of individual sports

Many of our teams finished up competition play today and just have their awards to give tomorrow. Many of our MO Magic fans came out to support. The athletes are not looking forward to being done with competition, that’s for sure.

Athletics –

The athletes started their finals today. It was a good day for Team Missouri in medals. The venue was determined to get all the events squeezed in today so it made for a long day for the athletes outside. They were troopers through it all.

Coach Julia Busken said that Danny Topete jumped the farthest he ever had today in the running long jump with a 4.36. The athletes actually thought he was hurt after his second jump, but he was only praying.


  • Danny Topete: Gold in the running long jump, gold in mini javelin
  • Allen Tobin: 4th in the running long jump, 5th in 100m run, 4th in 200m run
  • Maria Arnett, Danny Topete, Paige Hall and Jason Coffman: 4th in 4×100 Relay
  • Shelley Antle: Gold in 50m walk, Gold in standing long jump
  • Maria Arnett: 5th in 200m run, Silver in 100m run, Bronze in running long jump
  • Eric Wright: Gold in 50m walk
  • Jason Coffman: Bronze in running long jump, Gold in 200m run
  • Paige Hall: 4th in 100m run , Gold in running long jump, Silver in shot put
  • Jane Highland: Gold in 100m run, 7th in running long jump, Bronze in mini javelin, Gold in shot put


The team had another successful day at the pool. They even got to meet Olympic Gold medalist, Dara Torres and get their picture taken with her.  Several of the swimmers received a medal or ribbon today. Coach Amy Wurst said Nathan Baldwin’s 50 freestyle race was so close that when the scores came up, it looked like he had gotten third but when he got up on the award stands, he had actually out touched the other guy and got a silver.


  • Nathan Baldwin: Silver in the 50 freestyle
  • Jennifer Neihouse: 8th in the 50 freestyle
  • Logan Hulett: Bronze in the 200 backstroke
  • Kirstin Carlson: Silver in 1,000 freestyle
  • 4 x 50 relay of Cody Anderson, Libby Waddell, Logan and Jennifer  team got Gold

Basketball (men’s)-

The men played a very tough match against New York. They were ahead most of the game but lost by 1 point. They worked well together as a team. They play tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. against Indiana for the bronze at the College of New Jersey.

Basketball (women’s)-

The women started off the morning playing against Texas. They won 21-12. They had previously lost to them but got their revenge today. They play tomorrow morning for the gold medal at 9:15 a.m. at The Hun School.


The singles divisions started today. The athletes played great today and all of them finished with a medal or ribbon.


  • Lonnie Thornton – Gold in singles
  • Matt Cepeda – Silver in singles
  • Pierce Rash – 4th  in singles
  • Rebecca Tinknell – 4th in singles
  • Morgan Coombe – Gold in singles
  • Melissa Buss – Silver in singles


Teams played today to finish up their last day of competition. They had some very tough competition today. They receive their awards tomorrow, so we have to wait until then to see how everyone finished up.

Flag Football-

Unfortunately the team lost their game this morning. The athletes improved on their gameplay but they just couldn’t get the win.  They finished the day with awards and received a 5th place ribbon. Flag football was sitting under the athlete lounge tent today to take a team picture. Coach Chase Crane went around the backside of the tent and hit it up so the rain water flew out the front on to the athletes. Coach Steve Wilmesherr caught the water on camera right before it hit them and they didn’t even see it coming.


The golfers finished up with awards today, which very  smoothly. There were lots of fans out to support the team. They were able to finish the week on a positive note.


  • Thomas Cleek – Gold in 18 holes
  • Tere’e Trussell – Silver in individual skills
  • Tina Jones – 4th place in individual skills
  • Jocelyn Diehl and Stephanie Littrell – participation ribbons in Unified doubles
  • Chris Ringot – Silver in 9 holes
  • Nick and Jerry McMullen – Silver in Unified doubles



They continued to be fans of the game today. At the men’s basketball game, Brianne Chavez and Dary McIntyre got the fans pumped up by leading the show me, show me, show me cheer.


Tennis finished up an amazing week of competition today with singles. Brittany Selken played some great matches and ended up bringing home a bronze medal. Bobby also shined in his matches. He too received a bronze medal.


  • Brittany Selken – Bronze in singles
  • Bobby Williams – Bronze in singles


The team started out the morning with a loss against New Jersey. They played hard but made a few mistakes. After getting over the morning jitters, they played Pennsylvania for the bronze medal. It was a rematch from the other day. After losing the first set, they came back strong and won on the second set. They got the win on the third set and took bronze. They have awards tomorrow. Matt Montgomery was in tears after their victory and hugging everyone. The athletes were very excited.

Blog posts – 
See Rachel Antal’s (PR Assistant while at the 2014 USA Games) blog here.  

See Linda Wiederholt’s (sports manager for powerlifting and tennis) blog here.

See Jeremie Ballinger’s (Unified Partner in tennis) blog here.

See Mandi Steward Ballinger’s (sports manager for bowling) blog here.

Mobile App –
Don’t forget to download the Team Missouri mobile app on your Apple or Android devices. This will be the most immersive MO Magic experience and the best way to follow the team all week while our athletes are busy making you all proud back home. Whether you’re joining us in New Jersey or watching from afar, the app really does have something for everybody (schedules, photo galleries, alerts on when athletes receive awards, videos and more!). If you don’t have a mobile device capable of utilizing the app, you can still access the app via the web at http://m.core-apps.com/somo_2014 or just stay tuned at www.somo.org/momagic.

Videos –
Sometime Friday morning we will be posting a couple of videos from golf athlete Thomas Cleek, so stay tuned to our YouTube channel!

Photo Galleries –
Photos from the sports and fun activities are available both on our Flickr account and on our Facebook page. They will be updated throughout the week so be sure to check in on a daily basis!

2014 USA Games Team Missouri newsletter — Wednesday edition!

Wednesday: Singles competition begins to wrap up

More and more of our athletes are receiving medals in their respective sports, which is great to see, but more importantly they’re having a blast competing against the best of the best and making plenty of new friends.

I’m sure other states are getting rather tired of having to hear our MO Magic chant at every venue, but I guess that’s just too bad, huh?

Athletics –
Maria Arnett, Paige Hall, Jason Coffman and Danny Topete all ran their first preliminary in the 4x100m relay and finished second in their heat. Paige, Maria and Jane Highland all did prelims in the running long jump. Jason, Allen Tobin and Maria all did prelims in the 200m run. All of those athletes who competed in prelims today will have their finals tomorrow either during the day or during the Sports Showcase at night.


  • Eric Wright: Gold in the 100m walk; 4th place in softball throw
  • Shelley Antle: Silver medal in softball throw; bronze in 100m walk
  • Allen Tobin: Bronze in shot put
  • Jason Coffman: 6th place in shot put

Aquatics – 
Another great day for the Team Missouri swimmers with everyone who competed taking home at least a fourth place ribbon. Kirstin Carlson and Libby Waddell were in the same heat of the 100 backstroke and it was a really tight race where Libby just barely squeaked by Kirstin. Cody Anderson swam a personal best in the 100 backstroke, which earned him a silver medal. Nathan Baldwin’s swim in the 100 free was also a personal best and a gold medal. According to Coach Amy Wurst, the highlight of the day was seeing Jennifer take the awards stand thinking she was getting the silver medal, but being awarded a gold because of another athlete’s DQ. She was completely surprised and overcome with emotion. Thursday’s swims will include the last of the finals including the 4×50 freestyle relay. Two of the finals will be in the evening as part of the aquatics Sports Showcase at Princeton University.


  • Jennifer Neihouse: Gold medal in the 25 fly
  • Cody Anderson: Silver in the 100 backstroke
  • Libby Waddell: Bronze in the 100 backstroke
  • Kirstin Carlson: 4th in the 100 backstroke
  • Nathan Baldwin: Gold in the 100 free

Basketball (men’s) –
Wednesday was much more kind to the men’s basketball team than was Tuesday. The guys squared off against a very good, but evenly-matched Indiana squad and lost by two points in overtime. Coach Stan Smith said the guys had a shot at the buzzer go in that would have given them the win, but it was just a split second too late and it didn’t count. The team starts the medal round tomorrow with a game against New York at 9:15 p.m. at The College of New Jersey.

Basketball (women’s) –
Coach Keith Patterson said today was the first day that the team actually played like a team. The opponent today was a little lower in ability than our girls, but Keith said Team Missouri took the floor with a plan and executed it with perfection, which was really nice to see. The medal round begins tomorrow with a re-match against Texas – a team the girls played the other day and lost by only two points. The game is at 9:15 a.m. at the Hun School.

Bocce – 
Unified doubles and Unified teams finished up their portion of the competition schedule on another scorching day at The College of New Jersey. You can find the results below. Thursday’s schedule includes singles competition for six of Team Missouri’s athletes. UP and assistant coach Mike Lowry said that one referee for a match complimented one of the bocce teams on how well they worked together and really tried to make strategy a part of their game. The referee said that it was the first time he had seen that from a team at any point during the week.


Unified doubles — 

  • Mike Lowry and Lonnie Thornton: Bronze
  • Linda Tyler and Morgan Coombe: Gold
  • Jeanie Byland and Melissa Buss: Silver
  • Courtney Patton and Rebecca Tincknell: Silver
  • William Reese and Matthew Cepeda: Silver
  • Scott Copeland and Pierce Rash: 4th place

Unified teams —

  • William Reese, Scott Copeland, Matthew Cepeda and Pierce Rash: 4th place
  • Linda Tyler, Courtney Patton, Morgan Coombe and Rebecca Tincknell: Gold
  • Mike Lowry, Jeanie Byland, Lonnie Thornton and Melissa Buss: Silver

Bowling – 

The bowling team had another great day of Unified doubles and regulation doubles competition. It was tough for the coaches to tell the divisions based on who they were bowling with on the adjoining lanes, but they somehow found their way around the lanes to watch everyone. You can find the full results for the day below, but for the doubles team of Tiffany Wright and Lindsey Hawkins, Coach Bea Webb and Sports Manager Mandi Steward Ballinger said they didn’t think the girls would medal based on their score and how low it was compared to their averages. When they eventually lined up for awards later in the day and Tiffany and Lindsey found out that they did in fact receive the bronze medal, they were just over the moon about it. It was a great surprise not only for the athletes, but for the coaches as well.


Doubles — 

  • Tiffany Wright and Lindsey Hawkins: Bronze medal
  • Michael Lunceford and Ryan Fant: Gold medal

Unified doubles —

  • Tanya Johnson and Amanda Geno: 4th place
  • Chris Miller and CJ O’Neal: Silver medal (this is a correction from a mobile alert that said they received the gold medal)

Flag Football – 
Despite losing again and still having yet to win a game, the flag football team is looking on the bright side of things: Coach Steve Wilmesherr said that the team has yet to lose a coin toss in the team’s four games. Steve said they might have to figure out a way to lose their coin toss before tomorrow’s game to see if that helps the team in actual competition. After losing today to Colorado, the team plays tomorrow at 9 a.m. and if they win then they will play for the bronze medal later on Thursday.

Golf –
All of the golfers finished up their competition schedule today and while there were some highs

and lows for everyone involved, everyone again came off the course with smiles on their faces.

While the golf competition is finished, the results are not completely finalized, so be sure to find read the Thursday night newsletter for the final standings for Team Missouri golfers. The information will also be sent out via an alert on the mobile app as soon as they are awarded Thursday mid-morning.

Powerlifting – 
The powerlifting team was finished yesterday and just rotated around to the different venues cheering on their fellow Team Missouri members.

Tennis –
The officials at the tennis venue continue to brag on UP Ashley Wurst and Brittany Selken for how well they’ve played together over the last few matches. They played well enough to take home the gold by beating Maryland 4-0, 4-2. The guys’ team of UP Jeremie Ballinger and Bobby Williams also continued to impress by also taking down Maryland 4-0, 4-2.

Later in the afternoon, Bobby was filmed by an SOI crew to help train coaches on the best way to instruct their athletes. He was really tired and kind of dragging by the end of the day, but he powered through without complaining and the film crew acknowledged how well he did during the taping of the video; they said they were really impressed with him.

On tap for Thursday is singles competition with both Brittany and Bobby playing for the bronze medal at 8:45 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. respectively.


  • Unified team of Ashley Wurst and Brittany Selken: Gold medal
  • Unified team of Jeremie Ballinger and Bobby Williams: Gold medal

Volleyball –
Sports Manager Diane Brimer said she felt really good about the team going 2-1 in competition today. After losing its first match against New Jersey (who was added to their bracket today), the team battled back to take down Colorado and Pennsylvania, both in only two games. Diane said she thinks the team was kind of caught off guard by a new team coming into the bracket and were a little intimidated by them.

Diane mentioned one of the highlights for her being Shaina Galloway’s serves and how she caught on fire in the second two games and at one point getting seven serves for points in a row. The other athlete who stood out was Harry Beleme who had kind of been struggling with his serves taking full advantage of the situation he was in during the third game and winning the game with a great last serve, which should hopefully do wonders for his confidence.

In addition to the huge crowd at the team’s final match against Pennsylvania, the new Special Olympics Inc. CEO Janet Froetscher came to see what this MO Magic business was all about. She attended the game wearing a pair of the team’s Opening Ceremony Loudmouth argyle shorts that have been the talk of the Games. It was a real pleasure to meet Janet and get the chance to teach her the MO Magic chant. A huge thanks to Janet for supporting our athletes by being in attendance and staying around to take photos following the game.

The team will play New Jersey again Thursday at 8 a.m. at Rider University. If the team loses it will play again at 11 a.m. for the bronze medal, but if it wins then Team Missouri will play for the gold on Friday.

Blog posts – 
“This bowling alley had 85 lanes. It was huge. Definitely helps speed things up. I was so impressed with our athletes. They were cheering on the other athletes and they were bowling well I thought.”
See more of Rachel Antal’s (PR Assistant while at the 2014 USA Games) blog here.  

“The day began very well with both Unified Tennis teams receiving gold.  It was weird that the both teams played Maryland teams and ended up with identical scores.  Both teams won the first match 4 -0 and the second 4 – 2.”
See more of Linda Wiederholt’s (sports manager for powerlifting and tennis) blog here.  

See Jeremie Ballinger’s (Unified Partner in tennis) blog here.

See Mandi Steward Ballinger’s (sports manager for bowling) blog here.

Mobile App –
Don’t forget to download the Team Missouri mobile app on your Apple or Android devices. This will be the most immersive MO Magic experience and the best way to follow the team all week while our athletes are busy making you all proud back home. Whether you’re joining us in New Jersey or watching from afar, the app really does have something for everybody (schedules, photo galleries, alerts on when athletes receive awards, videos and more!). If you don’t have a mobile device capable of utilizing the app, you can still access the app via the web at http://m.core-apps.com/somo_2014 or just stay tuned at www.somo.org/momagic.

Videos –
Get a first-hand account of what it’s like for the athletes throughout the day as women’s basketball player Dakota Perkins talks to fellow basketball athlete from the men’s team in Patrick Andrews.

Also check out the video of her and the other women’s basketball team members at the Unified Sports basketball showcase.

Photo Galleries –
Photos from the sports and fun activities are available both on our Flickr account and on our Facebook page. They will be updated throughout the week so be sure to check in on a daily basis!

2014 USA Games Team Missouri newsletter — Tuesday edition!

Awards accompany the 2nd day of competition!

Today every one of our teams competed and so many of our athletes received awards. It was supposedly one of the hottest days of the year (according to locals), but everyone competed hard and look forward to what the rest of the week has in store.

Athletics –
Everybody on the athletics team competed today with two of the athletes having finals: Eric Wright won gold in the 50 meter run and Danny won silver in the 400 meter run. Eric was so excited and it was great that his family was there to see it. Officially he was the first medal of the 2014 USA Games for Team Missouri. He didn’t even know it was his final. We just told him to run as if you’re going for the gold and he did. He was so excited and kept asking, “I did good, didn’t I?”

Paige Hall, Maria Arnett and Jane Highland all competed in their preliminary 100 meter run. Maria ran a fantastic race. Allen Tobin and Jason Coffman had their preliminaries in shotput. Shelley Antle had her preliminary in the standing long jump and is within inches of the person who finished first in preliminaries.

Wednesday’s schedule has a lot of Team Missouri athletes competing in finals, so stay tuned as the results come in!

Aquatics –
It was a good day today for the aquatics team as the athletes had their first round of finals and these were the results:

Nathan Baldwin: 4th place in the 25 yard backstroke
Logan Hulett: Bronze in the 200 yard freestyle
Cody Anderson: Silver in the 200 yard freestyle and bronze in the 100 yard medley
Libby Waddell: Bronze in the 100 yard individual medley and bronze in the 200 yard freestyle

Tomorrow holds more preliminaries and finals for our swimmers and they’re really looking forward to getting back in the pool.

Men’s basketball – 
The men’s basketball team played a really good New Jersey team that was much quicker and stronger than our athletes. New Jersey played a great 3-guard fast break offense that accounted for more than 60 percent of their points. It was just really hard for our guys to stop them. Coach Stan Smith said the team also didn’t handle the kind of press New Jersey threw at them. But he also said that he was proud of the team for not complaining about it and keeping their cool trying to find the best way to break through. The team is still not sure when it’s playing on Wednesday, but will find out as early as possible. Stay tuned to the mobile app for details as they become available.

Women’s basketball –
The women’s basketball team lost to Ohio today 24-12. They women on the Ohio team were just taller and bigger than our Team Missouri athletes and it was too much to handle. Ohio jumped on us pretty quickly with their tall girls in the game, but eventually our girls battled hard to close the gap. The women’s team is also unsure of when it’s playing Wednesday and will find out early in the morning, so check the app early and often.

Bocce –
Today was hot and frustrating one for the bocce team after a couple of technical difficulties and scheduling quirks left the team sitting for most of the day without the chance to compete. They were able to get over to see the powerlifting competition and cheer on Team Missouri’s two athletes competing there, but most of the morning was a wash.

When they all returned in the early evening, Unified Partner Jeanie Byland and Melissa Buss finished 1-1 beating Louisiana 10-6 and dropping their second match. Matthew Cepeda and UP William Reese squared off against fellow Team Missouri members UP Scott Copeland and Pierce Rash with Matthew and William coming out on top. Both teams played an eventual second match against other states, but both dropped those matches. UP Mike Lowry and Lonnie Thornton lost a really, really close first match 9-10 and Rebecca Tincknell and UP Courtney Patton are still waiting to play their second game, which will finish up on Wednesday morning. Linda Tyler and Morgan Coombe weren’t able to play because one of the athletes on the team they were supposed to play spent the day in the hospital. They are set to resume play Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. Coach Kathy Lowry said it’s been nice to see the parents in attendance really help the team out, not just their own athletes, but the whole team.

Bowling –
Today was the finals day of singles competition in which the guys did really well. Michael Lunceford bowled a 160 and his average is a 91, so that was a huge improvement; he finished with the gold medal in his division! Chris Miller was in a really tough group and bowled a 208 in one of his games. Another athlete who bowled way over his average was Ryan Fant who typically bowls around a 100, but in his third game had a 163.  Awards followed at Rider University and the athletes didn’t know how they placed until they were on the podium. Ryan had no idea he got a silver and the look on his face after finding out he got silver place was priceless.  Even the usually stoic and quiet Chris had a smile on his face when he found out he won the gold medal in his division.

As far as the lady bowlers, Tanya Johnson got 8th place and really was just happy to be there. Tiffany finished 4th and Lindsey Hawkins took home the bronze.

Wednesday’s schedule includes Unified Doubles and regulation doubles with the team competition set for Thursday.

Flag Football –
The flag football team is still trying to get on track after losing both games today. Coach Steve Wilmesherr said the second game was a lot closer and they played better and really should have won, but they still made too many mistakes to come out on top. The team will square off against Colorado at 11:45 a.m.  Wednesday

Golf –
Coach Ken Neff said the golf team collectively took a step back during competition Tuesday, but athletes still had their heads held high with smiles on their faces as they walked off the course and that’s what is key. As a whole everything is running really smoothly at the golf venue and all of the athletes will need to step up their game on their final day of competition on Wednesday. Ken also said that Tina Jones and Tere’e Trussell’s scores in individual skills (higher scores are better) on Monday weren’t as low as reported in the Monday night newsletter, but in the low 50s instead of the 40s. The team attended the baseball game tonight and Tere’e was one of the athletes who got to throw out the first pitch. They all had a blast at the game.

Powerlifting –
Powerlifters Dary McIntyre and Brianne Chavez had an absolutely phenomenal day of competition according to coach Ed Blaylock. Brianne just totally dominated everyone in the female division and probably could have outlifted most of the men. She set a personal record by squatting 330 lbs. and probably could have done 350 easily if given the chance she was that on it today. She then benched 165 lbs. and deadlifted 358, which gave her a total of 854 lbs. on the day. All of those lifts won her a gold medal and was obviously good enough for the overall gold medal in the combination as well (four gold medals in total).

Dary McIntyre was in a really tough division against some really good competition, but still started off the day by taking gold in the squat. He then took fourth place in the bench press and bronze in the deadlift with 330 lbs. Overall, these three places earned him a silver medal in the combination portion. So, Dary won each of the medals and ribbons available (gold, silver, bronze and 4th place).

While on the awards stand, the athletes not only received their medals, but also get a nice bouquet of flowers. Well, for some reason the flowers weren’t available for the female powerlifters, but following Dary’s awards ceremony, he gave his flowers to Brianne who, isn’t one to really show much emotion, started crying. All in all it was a good day of competition for the Team Missouri powerlifters. They are now finished for the week.

Tennis –

Both Bobby Williams and Brittany Selken competed in singles today before their finals begin on Thursday. Unfortunately, both of them lost their matches. Bobby lost a really close match against an athlete from New Jersey. Coach Peggy Llewellyn-Neff said it was a really close and intense match and probably was the gold medal match with the way it was played.

Both sets of Unified Doubles (with UPs Jeremie Ballinger and Ashley Wurst) will compete Wednesday morning, both for the gold medal.

Volleyball –
The volleyball team had preliminary matches again Colorado and Pennsylvania on Tuesday. In the morning session, Team Missouri won both games (in three sets against Pennsylvania and two against Colorado). In the afternoon, they beat Pennsylvania again (this time in two sets), but lost to Colorado in three really, really close sets. They are adding another team to their division tomorrow in New Jersey. They are set to play at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Blog posts – 
“This morning, Alex Kunz had gotten a hat from Olympic Village yesterday and he was wearing it. The athletes could get whatever they wanted on it. Alex accidentally said Mom Magic so they put Mom Magic on his hat.” See more of Rachel Antal’s (PR Assistant while at the 2014 USA Games) blog here.  

“If you’re a sports fan there’s a game or performance you always remember, like Michael Jordan’s Flu Game or Tiger Woods winning a major with an injured leg.  Special Olympics is like that as well. There’s always an athlete or a moment that stands out and reminds you why it’s so inspiring. Today was that day for me.” See more of Jeremie Ballinger’s (Unified Partner in tennis) blog here.

“Have I mentioned this bowling alley has 82 lanes? That is pretty challenging when you have six athletes spread out from lane 12 to lane 64. Coach Bea and I took turns running around to check on everyone and give them a little encouragement when they needed it. Luckily MO Magic fans are the best, so there were only a few times when our athletes were truly on their own.” See more of Mandi Steward Ballinger’s (sports manager for bowling) blog here.

“Day 4 (Monday) Competition Begins or the Best Day of My Life…” See more of Linda Wiederholt’s (sports manager for powerlifting and tennis) blog here.

Mobile App –
Don’t forget to download the Team Missouri mobile app on your Apple or Android devices. This will be the most immersive MO Magic experience and the best way to follow the team all week while our athletes are busy making you all proud back home. Whether you’re joining us in New Jersey or watching from afar, the app really does have something for everybody (schedules, photo galleries, alerts on when athletes receive awards, videos and more!). If you don’t have a mobile device capable of utilizing the app, you can still access the app via the web at http://m.core-apps.com/somo_2014 or just stay tuned at www.somo.org/momagic.

Videos –
Get a first-hand account of what it’s like for the athletes as they go through Healthy Athletes® Park with these two videos (here & here)

Photo Galleries –
Photos from the sports and fun activities are available both on our Flickr account and on our Facebook page. They will be updated throughout the week so be sure to check in on a daily basis!

2014 USA Games Team Missouri newsletter — Monday edition!

Greetings from ‘Joisey!’

Today was the first day of competitions (divisioning, pool play and preliminaries) for most of our teams including aquatics, athletics, basketball (both men’s and women’s), bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, tennis and volleyball. 

Aquatics –
Today was the first round of preliminaries at Princeton University. Overall it was an exciting day, where all of the swimmers improved on their times that they typically put up. Libby Waddell was so excited to see her name on the big board with her swim time. She was dancing and waving her hat around she was so ecstatic. Whenever coaches Amy and Teri start to get stressed about something they ask Jennifer Neihouse what they needs to do and she starts singing “Let it Go.” Most swimmers on the team will be back in the pool on Tuesday for more preliminaries and a few finals.

Athletics –
Everybody except Maria Arnett competed today at the beautiful facility at Princeton University. The young ladies who did compete today including Jane Highland, Shelley Antle and Paige Hall, overcame their nerves early on to do well in their preliminaries. Everyone will be competing on Tuesday in their respective events, some of which are the finals, so stay tuned for information as Team Missouri starts to receive awards.

Men’s basketball –
The men’s basketball team played a nail-biter of a game against Texas to start the day. It was a really even match with Team Missouri coming out on top by two points. Coach Stan Smith said he felt like the guys played really well and most of the players got plenty of playing time. They will play against New York on Tuesday morning.

Women’s basketball –
The women’s basketball team went 1-1 in divisioning play today by beating up on Delaware in the first game and losing a heart-breaker by two against Texas. The girls played really hard in both games and the coaches were really pleased at the outcome considering how the team hasn’t been playing together for very long. Coach Keith Patterson said he was really amazed to see some of the typically reserved athletes come out of their shell during the game and show that they weren’t going to be pushed around by bigger opponents. They will play Ohio in the early morning Tuesday.

Bocce –
Today was divisioning for bocce.  Each of the athletes rolled 15 balls so the judges could be sure to put them in the right division against opponents of similar ability.  After divisioning, bocce members were able to go and watch the women’s basketball team play the second half of its game and it was exciting to watch the girls take care of business and win. The bocce team finished out the day with a well-deserved nap and a wonderful trip up the Hudson River on a dinner cruise.

Bowling –
Today was the first day for preliminaries for all bowlers at the massive Brunswick Zone in Lawrence, N.J. Lindsey Hawkins had a turkey, Chris Miller bowled four strikes in a row and Unified Partner CJ O’Neal had five strikes in a row. The Unified Partners will take Tuesday off as the athletes take center stage and bowl their singles games Tuesday morning. Awards will follow shortly thereafter back at Rider University.

Flag Football –
The flag football team had a hard day on Monday losing both of its games. First it played host state New Jersey and then later in the afternoon squared off against Nebraska. Coach Steve Wilmesherr said it was clear a lot of the players had some nerves going into the first game and it showed in their play, but he added that was really proud of how the team played much better in its afternoon game against the Cornhuskers. He said the guys were really fired up for the second game and showed a lot more enthusiasm and intensity; they improved from game one to game two and that’s really all you can ask from a team. He said it’s really easy to quit when you’re down, but they didn’t do that. The flag football team will square off against Wisconsin at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Golf –
Coach Ken Neff said the golf team had a really good first day out on the majestic course at Mercer County Park. Thomas Cleek shot a 106 playing individual 18 holes and he’s bound and determined to break 100 as the week goes on. Chris Ringot shot a 57 for 9 holes and Nick and Jerry McMullen (UP) shot a 64 as a Unified team. The other Unified team of Jocelyn Diehl (UP) and Stephanie Littrell shot a 77, but coach Ken Neff said more importantly they came off the course with huge smiles on their faces. They played with a team from Nebraska and by the end of the round they were all best friends. Stephanie said that today was the most fun she’s ever had and that’s really the point of all of this, right? For individual skills golfers, Tere’e Trussell and Tina Jones both shot a 44 out of 120 possible points. Tere’e started golfing barely 12 months ago and had a nearly perfect score in the short putt section with an 18 of 20 points. But coach Ken Neff summed it up by saying it’s not about the scores because a successful day is one where they’re excited to come off the course and be ready for the next day. It’s one of the best days of golf that we’ve ever had, he said. The golfers will all compete at the same time and location on Tuesday.

Powerlifting –
Powerlifters Dary McIntyre and Brianne Chavez had a day of rest before they start competition Tuesday morning competing in the deadlift, bench press and squat combination competition. Brianne lifts at 9 a.m. and Dary lifts at 1:30 p.m. They spent their day by watching the basketball teams and cheering them on from the stands.

Tennis –
Another fantastic venue was the tennis complex at Mercer County Parks. Monday was the preliminary rounds for singles for Bobby Williams and Brittany Selken. While Brittany lost both of her matches, Bobby won both of his rather easily. Because of the divisioning, coaches Peggy Llewellyn-Neff and Linda Wiederholt were able to take part in a coaches clinic with pros from the United States Tennis Association, which both Peggy and Linda loved. In the evening both doubles teams with Unified Partners, Jeremie Ballinger playing with Bobby (on the center court with stadium seating) and Ashley Wurst playing with Brittany, won their matches against Louisiana and Georgia respectively. Following the women’s match against Georgia the ref told coach Peggy that the two Unified Partners of Ashley and the other from Georgia were the best UPs he’s ever seen since he’s been involved with Special Olympics Unified Sports play. He said they both gave their athletes the best chance to play the balls and they were great on-the-court coaches. Following the wins by both teams, they were invited back to center court to take part in the Unified Sports Showcase, which highlighted Unified Sports play with help from SO New Jersey athletes and tennis pros from the USTA. Tuesday’s competition schedule begins with singles for both Bobby and Brittany. The Unified teams will both be playing for gold bright and early Wednesday morning.

Volleyball – The volleyball team struggled in the first two games, but was able to start putting together the skills to win the last two games compiling a 2-2 record on the first day of divisioning. In addition to it being an early start time, the fact that they weren’t going off of the score, but on a 25 minute play schedule threw them off a bit. Toward the end of the day, players were starting to get their serves over the net and move their feet to get to the ball. There were some great players by all but outstanding plays were made by Shaina Galloway, Matt Montgomery, Arthur Murphy and Jean Buersmeyer.  Everyone began to pull together and started playing like a team by the end. Coach Diane Brimer said the team is really looking forward to getting into a regular game.  She also said that one of the highlights was watching the players meet the other players from the other states and trading their pins back and forth.

Blog posts – 
“Today was the best day yet in Jersey…” See more of Rachel Antal’s (PR Assistant while at the 2014 USA Games) blog here.  

“The spirit of the USA Games are so different from the competitive world of high school and college sports that I am used to; while SOMO athletes are playing their hardest to win, they are also the first to encourage a competitor and wish them the best, which I love to watch.” See more of Jocelyn Dieh’s (Unified Partner in golf) blog here.

“Most everyone bowled right at or above their existing average, which is good news…” See more of Mandi Steward Ballinger’s (sports manager for bowling) blog here.

“The whole program was high emotional charge.  The theme of Champions was carried throughout.  I have been to two previous nationals and none of them compared to this electric event.  I can’t even find the words so I hope you were there or streamed it on the computer…” See more of Linda Wiederholt’s (sports manager for powerlifting and tennis) blog here. After a few technical difficulties, Linda’s blog is now up to date with three posts Monday night, so be sure to catch up!

Mobile App –
Don’t forget to download the Team Missouri mobile app on your Apple or Android devices. This will be the most immersive MO Magic experience and the best way to follow the team all week while our athletes are busy making you all proud back home. Whether you’re joining us in New Jersey or watching from afar, the app really does have something for everybody (schedules, photo galleries, alerts on when athletes receive awards, videos and more!). If you don’t have a mobile device capable of utilizing the app, you can still access the app via the web at http://m.core-apps.com/somo_2014 or just stay tuned at www.somo.org/momagic.

Videos –
Get a first-hand account of what it’s like on the dinner cruise with volleyball player George Richardson with these two videos (here & here)

Men’s basketball player Scott Wright talks to his teammates about their matchup against their first opponent of the games in Team Texas

Scott then takes us to the Special Olympics Town where he meets up with and interviews a WWE superstar

Photo Galleries –

Photos from the sports and fun activities are available both on our Flickr account and on our Facebook page. They will be updated throughout the week so be sure to check in on a daily basis!

2014 USA Games Team Missouri newsletter — Sunday edition

Hello from New Jersey!

Today most of the sports teams were able to go to their venues and see where they would be playing  this week. Some even had the chance to practice, which was nice after such a long travel day yesterday.

Tennis started the morning off with divisioning competition. One Unified Sports team of Jeremie Ballinger and Bobby Williams went 4-0 with wins over Maryland (10-4 and 10-0), South Carolina (10-6) and New Jersey (11-9). To get a first-hand account of how the team faired, check out Jeremie’s blog at www.somo.org/jeremie.

The other team of Ashley Wurst and Brittany Selken won two matches (Maryland 10-4 and New Jersey 10-5) and lost two (Rhode Island 7-10 and Connecticut 6-10).

Overall, coaches Linda Wiederholt and Peggy Llewellyn-Neff said they were proud of how both teams battled and got their nerves out of the way early as they head into competition Monday, which will include being a part of the Unified Sports Showcase under the lights on center court at the beautiful Mercer County Park beginning as early as 6 p.m.

Family Pep Rally
More than 120 family members and friends attended the Family Pep Rally at the family hotel Sunday morning where Team Missouri Assistant Head of Delegation Susan Shaffer addressed the family members. Shaffer talked about what they could expect throughout the week at each of the venues.

SOMO President and CEO Mark Musso also took time to thank the parents for coming all the way to New Jersey to support their athletes. He told them that while this week is for the athletes, it’s also for them as well and for them to enjoy it! He also told them to focus on this week being more about a journey instead of the destination.

There were plenty of goodies for the families to take to the venues throughout the week to cheer on not just their team, but the rest of Team Missouri as well. It sounded like they were pretty excited to defend the “Best Fans of the Games” award that we received in 2010 at the games in Lincoln, Neb.

Opening Ceremony
All of the team traveled on buses to Newark, New Jersey for Opening Ceremony at the Prudential Center where the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League play their home games. The WHOLE highway was shut down so that the buses could travel and have police escorts. Not just certain sections of the highway, but the whole thing. It was a sight to see. Photos are on the mobile app photo gallery and our social media accounts (Twitter: @SOMissouri & Facebook: SpecialOlympicsMO). One of our bus drivers said he’s been driving charter busses around the state for years and he’s never seen anything like it.

Actor and super model Brooklyn Decker and Philadelphia 76ers Rookie of the Year Michael Carter Williams hosted the Opening Ceremony. A Billy Joel tribute band performed as did a few, select members of the Broadway show “Wicked.”

Actor Jane Lynch and The Big Show and David Otunga of the WWE and multiple other celebrities made appearances. A Unified softball team from Maryland carried in the Special Olympics flag and hung it with Lashelle Griffin singing. Then came time for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg participants to bring the torch in and light the cauldron to signify the beginning of the games.

The whole focus of the Opening Ceremony was “Unify.” From how the athletes interact with themselves and the volunteers this weekend to the different sports that feature Unified Sports teams, the message was about making sure everyone knew that we are more alike than different and that unites us all. Each part of the cauldron represented a foundation of Special Olympics. They lit the torch and Chairman of Special Olympics Inc., Tim Shriver declared the games officially open.

The athletes made it back to the dorms around 10 p.m. and received their boxed dinner (a little late, but we were so hungry didn’t care) and headed off to bed to begin their week of competition.

For photos from the Family Pep Rally and Opening Ceremony, click here. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.725967997466507.1073741878.117595708303742&type=1 or you can look on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/somissouri/, which will also let you download full high-resolution photos.

Mobile App
Don’t forget to download the Team Missouri mobile app on your Apple or Android devices. This will be the most immersive MO Magic experience and the best way to follow the team all week while our athletes are busy making you all proud back home. Whether you’re joining us in New Jersey or watching from afar, the app really does have something for everybody (schedules, photo galleries, alerts on when athletes receive awards, videos and more!). If you don’t have a mobile device capable of utilizing the app, you can still access the app via the web at http://m.core-apps.com/somo_2014 or just stay tuned at http://www.somo.org/momagic.

“We had police escorts that took us all the way to Newark. We got our first glimpse of the New York City skyline which was pretty neat…” Read the rest of Rachel Antal, the Public Relations Assistant’s, blog at www.somo.org/rachel.

“The National Anthem singer put a unique twist on it, which usually makes me cringe, but this was actually a really cool rock version that ended in fireworks. Several entertainers performed, my favorite of which was the cast of Wicked singing “Defying Gravity.” Read the rest of Mandi, the Bowling Sports Manager’s, blog at www.somo.org/mandi.

“Our mission today was simple; experience USA Games Opening Ceremonies and let it blow our minds!” Read the rest of Jocelyn, a Unified Golf partner’s, blog at www.somo.org/jocelyn.

Athletics athlete Allen Tobin gives you a behind the scenes look before Opening Ceremony (http://youtu.be/7wZbzNrqZjk)

Bocce athlete Matthew Cepeda lets you walk into Opening Ceremony with Team Missouri (http://youtu.be/0JzsZHYM5QY)

Team Missouri helps athlete grow both on and off the field

One of the easiest ways to tell if a Special Olympics program is successful is in the growth of the athletes outside of the realm of competition.

One such success story is in Tere’e Trussell from Columbia, Mo.

Trussell, 22, has been involved with Special Olympics Missouri for more than six years, participating in softball, tennis, track, basketball and golf.Trussel, Tere

Central Area Program Director Diane Brimer said Trussell has really developed into a team leader – but it wasn’t too long ago when she thought Trussell wasn’t getting everything out of the program that she wanted.

“When I’d see her at competitions before, she just seemed down all the time,” Brimer said. “She seemed kind of disinterested in what was going on. She didn’t really talk to anyone that she didn’t already know well.”

However, Brimer said she noticed a change in Trussell following her nomination and selection in June 2013 to attend the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games as a part of Team Missouri.

“Just in those few short months since her selection, I couldn’t get over how her personality has really changed and she’s much more outgoing in meeting new people on the team and just enjoying herself,” Brimer said. “She was talking to people I never saw her talk to before.

“She just seemed to be enjoying life so much more.”

Despite being nominated for the team in tennis, Trussell also tried out for the golf team and will be competing in the Level 1 Individual Skills Competition in New Jersey.

Trussell, Ter'e (2)

Trussell practices her golf swing at a Team Missouri training in March 2014.

Trussell said she is “honored” to attend the 2014 USA Games as a part of Team Missouri.

“I’m most looking forward to meeting new people from other states!” Trussell said.

That’s a sentence that Brimer never thought she would hear from Trussell – and firmly believes that being selected for Team Missouri has changed her outlook on Special Olympics Missouri.

It has given her a sense of belonging and being a part of a team, which Trussell said is why SOMO is so important to her.

“I’m a part of a team and have met many new friends,” she said. “I also have lost weight and made better eating choices.”

Brittany Doscher has been actively involved in Trussell’s life as a part of the staff at her assisted living center; Doscher has seen her mature over the years as well.

“I feel like she’s more accountable and shows positive leadership skills,” Doscher said. “I feel that Tere’e has developed a sense of community with all of her teammates.

“Each person brings their own set of strengths and they all work together to bring out the best of each other.