Training for Life Campus to be Built in Jefferson City

(Jefferson City) After meeting on Saturday, Jan. 17 to review the bids for the Training for Life Campus (TLC) from Columbia and Jefferson City, the Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) Board of Directors made a unanimous decision to enter into an agreement with Jefferson City officials to locate the 44,000-sq.-foot Training for Life Campus on the 15.5 acres donated by Farmer Holding Company and Twehous Excavating. “We really want to commend both cities on the bids they put forward,” said SOMO Board Chairman Dr. Phil Cook. “It has been a long process, but through it all it has shown us just how lucky we are to have two amazing communities who support our program and athletes, while looking for ways to grow our partnerships even more. “The decision to locate the TLC in Jefferson City was based in large part due to the Jefferson City proposal allowing the campus to truly be a place for our athletes to call their own. We’ve said from day one that was important to us now and 50 years in the future. The ability to own the land in Jefferson City versus leasing it in Columbia in a partnership with Columbia Parks and Recreation was an important difference.”

From left, Jefferson City Mayor Eric Struemph, Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Randy Allen, SOMO athlete Derek Sandbothe, SOMO Board Chairman Dr. Phil Cook and SOMO CEO/President Mark Musso all pose for a photo following the announcement Jan. 20.

From left, Jefferson City Mayor Eric Struemph, Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Randy Allen, SOMO athlete Derek Sandbothe, SOMO Board Chairman Dr. Phil Cook and SOMO CEO/President Mark Musso all pose for a photo following the announcement Jan. 20.

Jefferson City Mayor Eric J. Struemph said, “We are very pleased and excited Special Olympics Missouri has selected Jefferson City as its new location for the Training for Life Campus. This project has truly been a great partnership between many entities all working together toward a great project that will have a big impact on our community. The cooperation between the City of Jefferson, Cole County, Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, developers, healthcare providers and business leaders all coming together to bring resources and support makes this project a great win for the Jefferson City area and Special Olympics Missouri.” When finding out Jefferson City won the bid, Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes said, “There is very little in life as inspiring and joyful as Special Olympics. We are disappointed not to play host to Special Olympics Missouri to be sure, but certainly happy for our friends in Jefferson City as we know how lucky they are to get this wonderful organization.” “We are disappointed that Columbia wasn’t chosen,” said Mike Griggs, director of Columbia Parks and Recreation. “We feel that Columbia presented an excellent option and we’re proud of the work that was done by everyone who assisted with this proposal. The Columbia Parks and Recreation will continue to be a strong and supportive partner for Special Olympics Missouri and look forward to hosting some of their larger events.” Despite Columbia not winning the bid, SOMO President and CEO Mark Musso said he is confident the Columbia program will continue to “be one of the strongest in the state” thanks in large part to the partnership with Columbia Parks and Recreation. “SOMO continues to host area competitions in Columbia and has enjoyed a long history of successful games there at the area, regional and state level,” Musso said. “Columbia Parks and Rec’s facilities will continue to be utilized by the local program and SOMO will strongly consider the return of regional and state games to Columbia with the additional Parks and Rec facilities in Phillips Park and Gans Creek Recreation Area.” The site for the TLC will be located at the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 54 and Missouri Highway 179. It will be the first facility of its kind in the world built for the sole purpose of improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. The current capital campaign for the TLC is well on its way to raising the $12.5 million needed to build the facility. The SOMO Board of Directors has said from the beginning that construction on the campus will not begin until the full $12.5 million has been raised. Currently the campaign is more than half way to that goal with the expectation to reach the final goal in 2016 and commence construction thereafter. With the additional 4-plus acres (compared to the 11.2 acres previously purchased by SOMO south of Columbia on U.S. Highway 63) it will now allow the construction of a full softball field instead of just a softball infield as previously discussed. It will also now have enough space for a walking trail on the outer edge of the campus. Staffing for the new building is expected to grow from 15 people currently to 30.

This is a rough sketch of what the Training for Life Campus COULD look like.

This is a rough sketch of what the Training for Life Campus COULD look like.

“We want to thank Farmer Holding Company and Twehous Excavating for donating the land, elected officials, civic and business leaders who collectively came and made clear how much they wanted the campus in Jefferson City, including Chamber CEO Randy Allen and Mayor Eric J. Struemph,” Musso said. “The forming of the Healthy Athletes Steering Committee comprised of hospital and health officials and the president of Lincoln University impressed us with their commitment to the overall health of the athletes and how SOMO is more than just about sports.” “Another committee formed to bring us to Jefferson City was the Civic Progress sub-committee for the TLC comprised of presidents from Jefferson City banks and an Ameren Missouri executive to help us reach our $12.5 million goal.”

Athletes will have their own entrance into the building.

Athletes will have their own entrance into the building.

Circle drive approach to the building

Circle drive approach to the building

Interior view with the LETR torch in the center

Interior view with the LETR torch in the center

Main entry

Main entry

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SOMO Athlete Raising “Buckets of Money” for Training for Life Campus

Jared Niemeyer makes his own fundraising plan

Jared Niemeyer with SOMO bucketJared Niemeyer is a familiar face around the Special Olympics community in Missouri. He’s competed for years in a variety of sports, served as a Global Ambassador and has again been tapped to represent SOMO at USA Games to compete in flag football.
But it’s Jared’s work in his kitchen that’s been turning heads around the state.
Jared put a large jar on a table in his kitchen and has been slipping coins and bills in it every chance he gets. When his brother comes home to visit, Jared hits him up for the money jar. Other visitors to the Niemeyers’ home have learned that Jared’s not shy about introducing them to the money jar, either.
A couple of years ago, at a SOMO Leadership Conference, Jared heard a recurring theme about the SOMO Training for Life Campus, the planned training center for SOMO athletes. He heard that SOMO will need “buckets of money” to make the campus happen, so Jared improvised a money jar to get the party started, as they say.
“Having the jar in our kitchen allows Jared to talk about the campus to visitors,” said Brenda Niemeyer, Jared’s mom. “He’s getting the word out to people involved in his life.” Jared, 22, lives with his family in Kirksville and works nearby.
Inside the jar, Jared also keeps a postcard with a picture of the planned Training for Life Campus.
The Training for Life Campus
The planned SOMO Training for Life Campus will serve current and future generations of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and will be the largest such facility in scope in the United States. The 44,000-square-foot Center will be set on an 11-acre campus between Columbia and Jefferson City, and will offer year-round training opportunities for athletes, coaches and volunteers throughout Missouri. We need to raise $12.5 million to make this a reality. If you’re interested in helping to fund this project, please contact Laurie Shadoan at shadoan@somo.org or (913)789-0353.
For more than 40 years, our athletes, coaches, volunteers and staff have not had their own place to call home. Staff members have worked in borrowed or donated office space, while equipment and supplies were stored elsewhere. Athletes have trained and competed wherever open gyms or fields became available. Coaches and volunteers have followed them, relentlessly dedicated – and always cheerful – to bring athletes together for physical fitness, health & wellness screenings and social camaraderie. For SOMO athletes, this will be like U.S. Olympic Committee’s training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
To learn more about the Training for Life Campus, visit http://somocampus.org/ or contact Laurie Shadoan at shadoan@somo.org or (913)789-0353.
SOMO is proud to offer donors a generous tax benefit through our participation in the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP). When you make an eligible gift of $2,500+ to the campaign, the NAP tax credit allows you to subtract 50% of your total contribution from state taxes owed. To see if you qualify, visit https://somocampus.org.