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Local Program Spotlight - Marion County

Dec 14, 2018 •

Having Fun, No Matter What

By: Tynan Gable

 

“Our focus has always been and will continue to be having fun,” said Mike Patterson, one of Special Olympics Oregon - Marion County’s superstar coaches.

A few years ago, there were no teams designated for athletes under the age of 18 in Marion County; the ten or so children involved in Special Olympics Oregon - Marion County were spread amongst the adult teams from around the county. Since he became involved, Patterson has expanded the youth program to serve around 40 athletes on a variety of youth-only teams.

Relying on word-of-mouth to spread the word about this new opportunity for children with Intellectual Disabilities in Marion County, Patterson is thrilled with the progress he’s been able to make in such a short time. The focus for these teams is to build skills and provide these children with a sense of belonging amongst their peers.

Since beginning the Special Olympics Oregon - Marion County youth programs, Patterson has been excited to see the children on his teams grow both as players and as individuals. Patterson recalled a particularly powerful experience he witnessed during his time coaching soccer. A child experiencing severe autism with extreme sensitivity to sensory stimuli, who previously engaged in Special Olympics only to participate in the “skills” competitions, joined his youth soccer team.

“In one season,” Patterson recalled, “we saw him completely transform to where he actually scored a goal in our last game.”

When the news came this summer that there would be no state games, the disappointment was shared by families, athletes, and volunteers of Marion County alike. However, Patterson saw this as fuel for the work he was already doing to provide his youth teams with a full season in the coming year.

“We are trying to continue to build skills and let the kids go have a good time,” Patterson said.

Patterson worked alongside other Marion County volunteers and coaches to secure a place to practice, free of charge, for the season. The groups of athletes were a mixture of children and adults, but it proved to be a great way to help all the athletes continue to progress with their skills and technique despite there not being a state competition in the immediate future.

“Even though it’s hard right now, I know that Britt, the new CEO of Special Olympics Oregon, is doing a great job of managing the situation and leading her wonderful staff team towards a fast and full recovery,” Patterson said.

In the meantime, though, Patterson is excited about the prospect of getting local high school involved with the Unified Sports opportunity of Special Olympics. Recent conversations have been extremely positive with a variety of Athletic Directors from around Marion County expressing support of the idea.

“This would be life changing...” said Patterson when reflecting upon the potential formation of Unified teams. “...for the athletes as well as their typically developing peers.”

And that, in Patterson’s view, is the best thing about Special Olympics Oregon in general: Its ability to change lives. He explained how much he enjoys being a part of an organization that breaks down people's walls and creates a true sense of joy and pride in the spirit of inclusion.

“The idea that everyone has an equal opportunity to do what they love is what has always drawn me to be involved with Special Olympics,” said Patterson. “We are moving towards a world where people can understand and accept that, though adaptations may be needed for some individuals, everyone deserves to feel as though they belong.”

Local Program Spotlight - Linn County

Nov 30, 2018 •

Melissa Holcomb, the newly-appointed Local Program Coordinator for Linn County, Oregon, has brought a new energy to her community, helping her local program flourish in the midst of uncertainty.

The end of the summer brought staggering news to the Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) community: No state games. This was a huge surprise to the families who have grown to love the inclusive and collaborative atmosphere of Special Olympics Oregon. Doubts about the future of Special Olympics Oregon fleeted through the minds of many confused and uncertain athletes and their families.

Despite this setback, counties from all around the state are finding ways to reassure their communities of the power of Special Olympics Oregon. Many exceptional Local Program Coordinators (LPCs) have navigated through the uncertainty of the past year to continue to provide their athletes with incredible experiences and opportunities in the name of Special Olympics Oregon.

Melissa Holcomb, the newly appointed Local Program Coordinator (LPC) of Linn County, has been involved with Special Olympics Oregon for over 30 years. She was a volunteer alongside her mom and two younger siblings growing up and made it a point to get her children involved from an early age as well.

Holcomb could not be more proud of what she’s accomplished since she stepped into her LPC role in September. She has carefully and thoughtfully transformed the Linn County Program, gearing up her entire community for a dramatic comeback in 2019.

Her first priority when coming on board was to find a way to communicate to all of the Linn County families that she was focused and determined to help rebuild Special Olympics Oregon on a local level to ensure that it would thrive long into the future. She explained that many of the athletes were fearful of losing friendships they had established through Special Olympics Oregon, so she made a promise to herself and her community that this would not be the case.

Holcomb deliberately aimed her early efforts at gathering together her local leadership team and expanding the outreach of her program to all of the towns incorporated in Linn County. Now backed by the support of all three local police stations as well as a larger, stronger network of Linn County businesses, Holcomb has seen a significant boost in fundraising and looks forward to growing these partnerships in the coming year.

Beyond her county-wide relationship-building efforts, Holcomb has directed her energy towards the athlete experience. To strengthen the sense of belonging and reinforce the family-like atmosphere of her local program, Holcomb has implemented monthly activities including BINGO and Karaoke.

“These non-sports-related activities provide our athletes the chance to meet and be involved with each other. I want my athletes to feel confident in the return of Special Olympics Oregon competitions and to maintain the strong sense of community they have created through their love for this organization and each other,” Holcomb explained.

This does not mean that Holcomb has lost sight of the athletes’ desire to compete: She has begun planning for local competitions in many of the Linn County sports: Bowling, bocce, volleyball, golf, and swimming. Despite many of her athletes’ fears of the water, Holcomb described that this most recent season of swimming was the best Linn County has seen with more than double the number of athletes taking part.

“The transformation that every athlete undergoes during their swimming season is remarkable. I can’t tell you how many kids have started afraid to dip their feet in the water, but after just a few weeks are swimming with a kickboard and their faces fully submerged,” Holcomb described.

For the Linn County basketball and softball teams, Holcomb has sought out opportunities to engage with other counties around the state, including Bend for softball and Benton for basketball. She is particularly looking forward to Friday night games for her basketball athletes, and the second annual BBQ and tournament between Linn County and several Eastern Oregon teams, which Holcomb will host this year.

In all the amazing things Holcomb has accomplished in her short time as LPC, there is one memory that is particularly meaningful for her: Special Olympics of Linn County had a float in the Albany Veteran's Day Parade. Known as the largest Veteran’s Day Parade west of the Mississippi River, this spectacular event features six miles of sidewalks densely packed with over 40,000 spectators.

“My mom led the last Special Olympics Oregon float in the parade 30 years ago,” Holcomb explained, now teary-eyed. “It was the most gratifying and amazing thing to see the athletes come together after everything they’ve been through in the past few months.”

In addition to the multitude of grateful emails and phone calls Holcomb has received from her athletes and their families, she saw this as a great opportunity to show everyone at the parade that Special Olympics Oregon is rebuilding to make a statement in 2019 about the power of inclusion through sport. Ultimately, explained Holcomb, this kind of community-wide impact is what Special Olympics Oregon is all about:

“The Special Olympics is a powerful and positive experience for everyone involved: athletes, families, volunteers, the community as a whole… I think it’s the best thing that happens in our county, our state, and around the country. These brave athletes are changing the entire outlook of the Linn County community and we are immensely excited about the progress we’ve made in the last few months.”


2018 July Volunteer Spotlight

Jul 13, 2018 •

Over the past ten years, Tiffany Monroe has become an increasingly important part of the success of Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) in the Springfield/Eugene area as an employee of the Springfield Police Department. Through Tiffany's leadership, the LETR movement in Springfield/Eugene has seen significant growth. Beyond coordinating her agency's efforts in the Torch Run, she has been an active part of the LETR Executive council for the past several years, influencing the program throughout the state on issues ranging from fundraising to t-shirt design. Her efforts have directly contributed to growth of LETR programs, as evidenced by the Eugene Polar Plunge having its best year ever in 2018 Tiffany says that “The relationship between law enforcement & Special Olympics athletes incites joy at every interaction. Seeing that and being a part of that is contagious and why wouldn’t you want to be a part of something that has nothing but happy endings!”. Tiffany's dedication extends beyond the borders of Oregon; she has volunteered to be a support staffer for the USA Games Final Leg in Washington, demonstrating her dedication to Special Olympics on a national scale. She continually prioritizes our athletes, working behind the scenes to keep SOOR moving forward. Tiffany is truly an unsung hero for Special Olympics Oregon!

2018 June Athlete/Volunteer Spotlight

Jun 06, 2018 •

Meryck Barber is both an athlete and a unified sports coach for Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR). He is described as a courageous and determined individual who always gives 100% of his effort into everything he does. Having been with SOOR for 10 years now, Meryck recalls one of his favorite memories as an athlete was running the Unified Relay as the anchor and winning the race for his team!


When asked why he is involved with SOOR, Meryck answered that he loves making new friends and supporting them. With his great showing of sportsmanship and support as a team player, Meryck also said he wants to be good at sports, which is why he is involved in SOOR. His passion for his athletic performance and his dedication in supporting his teammates are great characteristic traits that make Meryck such a unique individual as well as an awesome athlete and coach.


Outside of Meryck’s time with SOOR, he loves playing sports for fun (especially basketball), going to watch Blazer games, playing video games, and enjoying the outdoors. Meryck’s love and passion for the Blazers and video games are so great that if he won the lottery he would buy the Trail Blazers team and buy lots of video games and pizza. His dream vacation would be going to Disneyland and to a Clippers vs. Lakers basketball game.


Additionally, Meryck also spends his time working with Project Search, a program site which aims to help hire individuals with disabilities. The team player mentality that Meryck embodies also leads him to helping out many other people outside of SOOR as well. Meryck also has two dogs who love to wake him up in the mornings.

Meryck’s outstanding characteristics as an athlete, coach and an individual are something that is truly remarkable and an inspiration for many others around him.

2018 May Volunteer Spotlight

May 04, 2018 •

Danielle Johnson and Brad Franklin got involved with Special Olympics Oregon four years ago at Tigard High School.  Danielle, a Special Education Teacher, and Brad, a former Special Education Teacher at Tigard High School, were approached by a student that wanted to start a Unified soccer team. This students’ efforts were instrumental in getting the program at Tigard started and Danielle and Brad have worked hard to continue the vision.  Now four years later, their program is busting at the seams and is having a profound impact on students, families and the community.

Danielle Johnson
Prior to Danielle’s involvement at Tigard High School, she was previously a basketball coach for Special Olympics Washington while she completed her undergraduate work.  She now oversees Tigard High School’s Unified Champion Schools program and coaches one of their Unified soccer teams.  Danielle says that she is committed to continue coaching Unified soccer because it’s simply F.U.N!  “I’m thrilled to see our team make gains on the soccer field.  Each season brings new skills.  It’s truly fun to watch.  I’m also moved by the relationships that are formed throughout the season.  Partners and athletes connecting and building friendships is inspiring.”


The program at Tigard High School continues to evolve each year and the demand for student involvement is high. It’s also had a huge impact on the parents of athletes, which motivates Danielle to ensure that their activities will sustain and grow each year. “I know we are doing something very special by providing this opportunity for activity, friendship and community building.  I’m also often told that parents of athletes are happy to be ‘soccer Moms and Dads’ for the first time.”


In 2017 Danielle was selected to be a coach for the Special Olympics Unified Soccer team at the MLS All-Star game in Chicago. This once in a lifetime opportunity is Danielle’s favorite SOOR memory and one that she says she’ll never forget. “I’m grateful for each and every day out on that soccer field.  What we are doing, what these partners and athletes are doing, is nothing short of amazing!”


Outside of coaching Unified soccer, Danielle’s favorite things include her family, her pugs, golfing and being a Special Education Teacher at Tigard High School.


Danielle lives by the motto “you can only take with you that which you’ve given away” and says the best advice she was ever given is to invent.  Invest in as much as you can in each and every moment.


Brad Franklin
This year marks Brad’s fourth season as a Unified soccer coach at Tigard High School.  Since beginning their program, Tigard has had two soccer teams each year because there are so many students that want to be involved. 


Brad stopped teaching at Tigard High School two years ago, but has continued to coach because of his dedication and commitment to promoting inclusive opportunities to youth. “I love SOOR’s unified program and the emphasis it places on inclusion and equality.  It has been amazing to see Tigard High School get behind our team and start spreading that inclusive philosophy through the hallways and the rest of the Tigard community.” Being a coach has also allowed Brad to stay connected with some of his favorite students on earth!  


Throughout his experience as a Unified coach, Brad says that it’s given him the opportunity as a coach to teach his players to not just “play” unified, but to live unified as well and always include people of all abilities and see everyone as equal and valuable. 


Brad has many great SOOR memories, from his team winning the gold medal in last year's tournament to winning the sportsmanship award in their first tournament. 

“I think my most favorite memory, though, and another thing that I really love about SOOR Unified sports, is when our student/coach LaJuan got to participate in individual skills at the end of the year tournament. LaJuan uses a wheelchair and coaches our team during the season, but during the individual skills competition she grabs a ball and a partner and maneuvers around cones and took some great shots on goal.  She won a gold medal at the end of it all last year, which may or may not have made me cry.”


When not coaching Unified soccer, Brad enjoys spending time with his wife and new baby boy, playing sports with friends and working at Every Body Athletics. 


Brad’s favorite quote to live by is by Albert Einstein. “Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’  It’s our job to meet the fish where it’s at and help it find ways to be successful,” says Brad.

 

Danielle and Brad – thank you so much for your continued dedication and support of SOOR and Unified Sports!  We couldn’t impact students, families and schools without your tremendous contributions and passionate hearts. Thank you for all that you do to help us create more inclusive schools and communities for all!

2018 April Volunteer Spotlight

Mar 29, 2018 •

Susie Peters is a Benton County Special Olympics Oregon volunteer. She has been a coach and local program coordinator for better than two decades. During the decade I have known her, I have seen her perform every function of the local program.

  • She coaches year round (basketball skills, softball, volleyball skills and helps with snowshoeing).
  • She arranges practice facilities and sees that safe equipment is available for all sports, delivering it as well
  • She has filled in as medical manager or volunteer manager as needed
  • She coordinates a Special Olympics Polar Plunge entry every year in the Corvallis holiday parade
  • She helps coordinate the Polar Plunge in Corvallis
  • She is helping with the organization of the this year’s state summer games

It is Susie’s role as a coach though in which she truly shines. Her dedication to her athletes and their experience is unwavering. Her sense of fairness and good sportsmanship are fine examples for her athletes, and are evidenced by her collection of “Sportsmanship” medals.

Susie helped start the Unified softball program here in Oregon. There were years in which my team from Eugene and her Benton County team were the only teams. We’d play each other six times a year. Our teams became friends and we’d play a fun game each year, trading partners between the teams, or, and this was the most fun, athletes from both teams versus the partners. The Golden Years, as it were. Unified softball was also where I met Susie. We will celebrate our ten-year anniversary later this year.

I think Susie’s dedication to her athletes can be best illustrated by something I witness, over and over again, over the years. After tournaments, when we are at home, or even still just driving home, Susie’s phone will ring. It will be an athlete. Doesn’t matter who. We know they want to know when registration for the next season is, or what day of the week a certain sport will be practicing, or some such thing. Susie always answers. It’s just who she is.

I know I am biased, Susie being a Beaver fan and me a Duck, but I won’t hold that against her. I think she is very much more than just deserving of the Les Schwab Pride in Performance Award. 

-Paul Harvey (Susie's husband)


Susie’s involvement and dedication to SOOR is absolutely unmatched. She is always willing to roll up her sleeves and jump right in to do whatever needs doing. She coaches, she leads, she handles paperwork, etc. Probably the most impressive display of her willingness to do whatever is necessary, is when the Local Program held a dinner/auction fundraiser. In order to save money, she was one of the volunteers who served dinners then cleared, washed, packed and transported all the dishes back to the caterer. She doesn’t see it as a big deal – it’s just got to be done, so she does it.

-Janet Capetty


Susie lives and breathes the mission of Special Olympics. Day in and day out, she does whatever is needed to ensure that if there is someone out there who wants to participate in Special Olympics, she will get their paperwork processed, she will fit them on to a team, she will find them a coach or chaperone, she will set them up to be a successful Special Olympics athlete. Her impact on the Benton County community is palpable, not only do her athletes look at her with the utmost respect and gratitude, but so do her coaches and volunteers, the families involved, and anyone else who has had the pleasure of meeting and working with Susie. Susie sets the standard for Volunteer Leadership that is required in a successful organization, to say that we are thankful for the work she has done is an understatement.

-Adam Kau

2018 April Athlete Spotlight

Mar 29, 2018 •

Jason Cly is a team player, always willing to help out a friend in need. His words of encouragement help to maintain a positive atmosphere within his team, even when times get tough. Jason has been a Special Olympics Oregon athlete for over two decades, participating in several sports ranging from bowling to softball to unified basketball. Keep up the amazing work, Jason!

2018 February Athlete & Volunteer Spotlight

Feb 02, 2018 •

Juan Gomez-Gutierrez began his involvement with Special Olympics Oregon in the 2nd grade and has been a Special Olympics Oregon athlete for the past eleven years.  He’s participated in cross country, softball, swimming, basketball and soccer.  Juan is currently a senior at Forest Grove High School where he is highly engaged in their Unified Sports program and inclusive leadership activities.


Being a part of Special Olympics Oregon has had a huge impact on Juan and has influenced much of the person that he’s become today.  “My life has been improved by SOOR because it encourages me to work with other people, makes me more talkative and open to making new friends, and lets me play the sports I love with my friends. I like that everyone is so positive in SOOR,” says Juan. 


Juan’s favorite Special Olympics Oregon memory is travelling to Bend a few years ago to attend the Unified Softball School tournament. On the bus ride over the mountain they got to stop and have some fun playing in the snow and later that night, him and his friends all played board games together in their hotel room.

 

Last March Juan and his Unified basketball team made history by participating in the first-ever Unified Sports High School State Championships in partnership with OSAA (Oregon Schools Activity Association). To add to the excitement, Juan’s team, the Forest Grove Dark Knights took first place, making them the first team to ever receive this outstanding title! For Juan, this experience is his biggest accomplishment that he’s most proud of.


When asked who inspires him, Juan said, “I admire Kobe Bryant because he has such a great work ethic that I have always wanted to achieve.” 


Outside of Special Olympics Oregon and school, Juan enjoys staying up late watching scary movies, playing basketball and hanging out with friends. 

Megan Buehler was introduced to Special Olympics Oregon 3 years ago as a Freshman at Forest Grove High School when she took a Community class, which integrates students with and without disabilities. With some encouragement from a teacher and Unified Sports coach, Megan decided to become a volunteer and Unified Partner so that she could develop more friendships and have some fun!  Megan began participating in Unified basketball and has since been involved in soccer, softball, bowling and golf. 


“Being involved in SOOR is important to me because it helps me create friendships with amazing, funny and talented people whom I probably haven’t met otherwise.  I have found some of my closest friends through the program and even after a long day at school, I’m excited to go to whatever practice I may have because I know it will be a blast,” says Megan! 


Megan has so many favorite Special Olympics Oregon memories, which makes it hard to choose just one. The trip to the Softball tournament in Bend and playing in the snow was also a highlight for her, as well as winning a bronze medal in her golf division with her fabulous partner Kate.  But her absolute favorite memory was watching Juan’s Unified basketball team, the Dark Knights, win the Unified Basketball State Championship game!  “It was such an energetic game and it was so exciting to see my friends win after they had all worked so hard,” says Megan.


Outside of Special Olympics Oregon, Megan enjoys golfing and is captain of Forest Grove High School’s girls varsity team. She also likes to play with her three hedgehogs, spend time with her dogs, ride her bike and get food with friends.
Megan’s hope for the future of SOOR is that even more people become involved and realize the positivity that comes from being involved with Unified Sports!


Juan and Megan are also both involved in Forest Grove High School’s ASB (Associated Student Body) and serve as this years Unified Representatives. This position was created a few years ago and is an opportunity for a student with a disability and a student without a disability to serve in a leadership role together. As Unified Reps, Juan and Megan are responsible for including special education and ensuring equality and the respect of all students. In addition, Juan and Megan have also organized and facilitated workshops and presentations at annual Youth Leaderships Summits and have played a vital role in educating other students about how to make their schools and communities more inclusive and accepting. 


Special Olympics Oregon is so proud to work with such outstanding youth leaders like Juan and Megan!  We can’t thank you enough for all that you continue to do to inspire and empower young people to change their schools, communities and the world in such powerful ways.

2018 January Volunteer Spotlight

Jan 03, 2018 •

Jeff Porter has been volunteering with Special Olympics Oregon for 14 years.

His first experience came in 2003 as a unified partner on a Special Olympics Oregon Unified Hood to Coast Relay Team. Jeff was paired to run with SOOR athlete Jenny Deras. Together Jeff and Jenny teamed up with other SOOR athletes and partners to cover the 196 miles from Timberline Lodge to Seaside.  It was during this experience that Jeff realized that he had connected to something important and life-changing.  It also did not hurt that he had plenty of Special Olympics staff, volunteers and athletes telling him that he needed to get more involved!

Over the next 14 years, Jeff has definitely been INVOLVED.  He has helped organize and manage many competitions and events around the state. Of the 14 different sports that SOOR offers, Jeff has volunteered at an event for each of them at least once. Many of you may recognize him at competitions as the “Man in the Red Hat” as he likes to wear a red SOOR cap so that people can spot him quickly in a crowd. Some of Jeff’s primary roles have been to serve as the competition director at regional and state bocce, oversee the field events at Youth Games at Nike, coordinate individual skills and awards at basketball and soccer, supervise volunteers on bowling lanes, and so much more.

Like many of our valued key volunteers, Jeff takes great pride in providing quality competition experiences for our athletes, unified partners and coaches while also ensuring that SOOR competition standards are upheld. He is a great leader, problem-solver and a true friend to many of our athletes and volunteers. He is a trusted member of the SOOR team.  It is a great honor to recognize Jeff Porter with the Les Schwab Pride in Performance Award.

2018 January Athlete Spotlight

Jan 03, 2018 •

“Jimmy Boatwright is a true embodiment of what Special Olympics Oregon is all about. I have had the great privilege of coaching him in volleyball for two years in a row and every day I have coached him has been a joy. He is nothing but supportive of his teammates and is always the first to give them a high five. He has been on multiple teams that have received the sportsmanship award and a large part of that was due to Jimmy. He is one of the most supportive athletes I have ever worked with for his own and the opposing team. He is the kind of athlete that makes coaches and teammates look forward to practice. He is an incredibly hard worker and brings a smile to anyone that is near him. When asking other coaches to describe him the words “kind”, “respectful”, “positive”, “enthusiastic”, “hard working”, “good natured”, and “motivator” were used. He was also described as “a joyous person to be around”. Jimmy is unbelievably deserving of this award and I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to coach him for two years. Congratulations Jimmy! The entire Benton County Special Olympics family is so proud of you!”

- Alexi Shean, Head Volleyball Coach

2017 September Volunteer Spotlight

Sep 19, 2017 •

Deronda Lallatin has a long history volunteering for Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR). She first discovered Special Olympics close to six years ago when her friend was coaching basketball. She offered to help, and immediately became hooked.

Now, Deronda is one of SOOR's Local Program Coordinators in Grant County.
"I love the energy in the room as we practice together, especially during scrimmages. My favorite thing about SOOR is getting to know all the amazing athletes that I wouldn't know any other way."

Volunteering for SOOR has also become a family affair. "I have five kids...Two of my kids are married and I look forward to becoming a grandma in the next couple years.  All my kids and my husband have helped either a little or a lot with Special Olympics."

Despite being busy with her growing family, Deronda takes on a huge amount of responsibility as one of the Local Program Coordinators, even though she has no family or children participating in SOOR. Her passion for the athletes and the positive impact of Special Olympics shines through her commitment.

"My Grandfather [told] me, 'You can find all kinds of people wherever you go in the world.  Choose good people to associate with.'  Special Olympics is full of good people, doing good things, and having fun at it!  It is a privilege to be a part of it."
Thank you, Deronda, for your influence and commitment to Special Olympics Oregon.

2017 September Athlete Spotlight

Sep 19, 2017 •

Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) athlete Patrick Taylor is 26 years old and participates with the Jackson County Local Program. Patrick has been involved with SOOR for 5 years, participating in bowling, powerlifting and track and field. This winter, he is excited to also try cross-country skiing for the first time!

SOOR has impacted Patrick in many ways, and not just by offering training and competition opportunities. He has built friendships that will last a lifetime and continues to stay active and healthy through continuous sports training. One of his favorite activities is going on long walks. 

When he’s not training with Special Olympics Oregon, Patrick keeps busy volunteering at the Jackson County Library and working part-time for a company that packages pet products. He’s a big dog lover and is waiting to get his own guide dog. Patrick is legally blind, so he is quite anxious to have a great walking buddy which will give him even more independence. Patrick's accomplishments are truly impressive and he has overcome many obstacles in his life.

When asked what he would do if he won the lottery, Patrick didn’t even pause to consider. He knew right away!  “I would give the money to Special Olympics.” When pressed for a few more details, he finally said he would also like to take a cruise.

Patrick is looking forward to two very exciting events- he is going to Disney World in October and he recently experienced his very first Duck game! Thanks to his boss, he was able to watch the game from a "VIP" section. For this avid sports fan, it is a dream come true.

Thank you, Patrick, for inspiring us with your passion and dedication!

2017 August Athlete Spotlight

Aug 14, 2017 •

August 2017 Athlete Spotlight: Bryce Moore, Josephine County

Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) athlete Bryce Moore is one of a kind. His enthusiasm and love of all sports is contagious, and his genuine desire to support and cheer on his teammates is recognized by all.

Bryce joined SOOR after he graduated high school, but looking back he wishes he would have discovered SOOR sooner. He has always participated in sports, but never had the opportunities to truly achieve his goals or continue to grow and develop, like he has through SOOR. In high school, Bryce played soccer and tennis, but was cut from the teams the following years. Because of this, Bryce is grateful that SOOR gave him the opportunities to train, compete and strengthen his outstanding abilities.

Bryce’s coaches commend his work ethic, sportsmanship, and constant support of his peers. He is always encouraging others to do their best.

While sports are his passion, he still finds time to be of service to others. He served a three-month mission for his church where he helped with many service projects. He is also currently taking online courses through BYU-Idaho.

Bryce is an inspiration to us all and we admire his continuous love of Special Olympics Oregon!

2017 August Volunteer Spotlight

Aug 09, 2017 •

August 2017 Volunteer Spotlight: Paula Moe, Baker County

Paula Moe, Local Program Coordinator for Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) in Baker County, has more than just a passion for volunteering. Paula’s daughter, who grew up with an intellectual disability, struggled with finding her place among her peers, a place where she could succeed and be happy in life. Paula watched as her daughter struggled with feeling accepted and capable, but one day she witnessed a SOOR track and field practice— and she was hooked.

It wasn’t long until Paula's daughter joined SOOR, which led Paula to begin her journey as a SOOR coach.  Since then, Paula has been a dedicated volunteer for over eight years. In addition to leading the Local Program for Baker County, she is also the head coach for swimming and assistant coach for track, bowling and snow sports.

"I do Special Olympics Oregon because it fills my soul with gladness," says Paula. "It gives folks an opportunity to become more than athletes... They are able to increase their self esteem and enjoy the good things we offer with their peers."

Paula witnesses the great impact of SOOR on individuals who achieve things they never thought possible every day. "My most favorite memory was during a swim practice... I had a young athlete terrified to put his face in the water. After our 3rd week of practice I convinced him to go under the water. He came up screaming I LIVED, I LIVED. The entire pool was either laughing or crying."

Paula's hopes for Special Olympics Oregon is that people will recognize all the good work SOOR does in Oregon, and in every local community. She hopes people have a chance to see "the great athletes we help to mold into even greater members of society."
When Paula isn't volunteering with SOOR, she enjoys canning, quilting, and swimming— naturally!

Thank you, Paula, for all that you do for Special Olympics Oregon and the athletes you impact every day.

Summer 2017 Les Schwab Pride In Performance Awardees

Jul 13, 2017 •

Les Schwab Pride In Performance Athlete and Volunteer Awards
The Summer 2017 Les Schwab Pride In Performance awards went to two incredible individuals. Chuck Sturgis was awarded outstanding volunteer and Jordan Allen received the outstanding athlete award. Read about Chuck and Jordan on our blog.

Chuck Sturgis - Outstanding Volunteer
Chuck has been volunteering with Special Olympics Oregon for more than 20 years, coaching year-round for basketball, athletics, softball and bocce. He is a mentor for other coaches by sharing his insight, which comes from years of experience!  His wisdom and upbeat, constructive attitude helps develop new coaches into great coaches.
 
Over the years, Chuck has helped in other volunteer roles as well, stepping in as Head Coach whenever needed, helping with the Local Program newsletters and more. His leadership, experience and passion are amazing assets and he has been instrumental in assuring that the Washington County Local Program continues to thrive and move forward!
 
Chuck does a phenomenal job working with our athletes and encourages them to reach their highest potential. He is kind and supportive to everyone on his teams and is loved by the athletes, coaches, and families. He is truly an inspiration to all!
 
Jordan Allen - Outstanding Athlete

Jordan is a Special Olympics Oregon athlete who everyone looks up to. He is truly passionate about sports and always gives 110% in everything he does. Special Olympics has allowed him to form lifelong friendships with his teammates, which is one of his favorite things about participating.

“When I think of Special Olympics and what it means, I think of Jordan. I think of his pride, joy, determination and his smile.  Jordan is a true role model for all athletes," says coach Nikki.

His coaches have seen him grow from a young boy that struggled to make it through an entire practice  to a young man that has incredible sportsmanship. He hugs and congratulates his teammates and is proud of any medal or ribbon he earns.

“Jordan is such a gracious winner and is always humble in defeat," says coach Kyle.

Jordan is "the loudest fan in the stands or bench, cheering on his teammates.  He wants everyone to do well and feel supported.  Whenever teammates are competing he always gathers everyone and gets them to cheer them on.  You often hear him saying “That’s my team!" says one of his coaches.

When Jordan is not training or competing with Special Olympics Oregon, he attends local high school basketball, football, volleyball and softball games.  He has been made a part of the Toledo High School Boomer team by becoming their number one fan, where he is often included in their team huddles and pictures!  He also works at the local elementary school helping with lunchtime duties in the kitchen. He is an extremely eager employee and says he enjoys seeing the kids and other friends at the school.

Congratulations, Jordan, on being named the Summer Les Schwab Pride In Performance Outstanding Athlete!

 

 

June Volunteer Spotlight: Sgt. Gwen Johns of the Newberg-Dundee Police Department

May 09, 2017 •

Gwen Johns has been with the Newberg-Dundee Police Department for 23 years and has been involved with Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) and the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) since 1995. Gwen initially volunteered with LETR by handing out medals at sports competitions and participating in the annual torch run. Gwen was quickly hooked and deepend her involvement by joining the LETR executive council in 2011, and now acts as the Chair. Gwen has been a leader in fundraising through various LETR events, such as Tip-a-Cop, Plane Pull, and the Polar Plunge. She inspires others with her passion for Special Olympics Oregon and the committment she has to the athletes. 

According to Gwen, volunteering with SOOR and LETR is an extremely rewarding and uplifting experience. When she watches SOOR participants compete, she is amazed by their heart and genuine love of their sport. "They demonstrate pure sportsmanship and remind us all of what the spirit of competition is about."

Thank you for your continuous support of LETR and Special Olympics Oregon!

May Volunteer Spotlight

May 09, 2017 •

Annie Simpson is an incredibly vibrant and charismatic educator, volunteer and advocate for Special Olympics Oregon. She began her involvement four years ago when she started a Unified Sports program at the school she teaches at, George Middle School. At the time, George had a self-contained life-skills program that general education students continuously asked how they could help and be a part of it. She knew Unified Sports would be the perfect fit for George because it would allow students to learn from each other and be a part of something really special, while having fun and being inclusive at the same time. 

Not only did Annie start the Unified Sports program at George, she also coaches their Unified basketball and Unified soccer teams. In addition, Annie also helped develop a Unified Leadership class for students with and without intellectual disabilities, which is an elective class for students. The class combines curriculum, team building, advocacy, skill development and Unified Sports to provide students with meaningful inclusive opportunities to learn, lead and have fun together.  Annie says that these opportunities have had a tremendous impact on the culture at George Middle School. “This program is amazing for students with and without intellectual disabilities, educators, families and the community.  I’m involved in Unified because it brings students together and allows some really amazing kids an opportunity to shine, who wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”

When asked what her favorite Special Olympics Oregon memory is, Annie said, “I pretty much love everything Unified. I especially love to watch our Mustangs compete. They have so much heart and I believe [they] embody what Unified really stands for.” When she speaks about her students and the Unified program at George, her passion and dedication is evident.Annie is excited to see how the Unified program will continue to grow at George and says, “whatever our program looks like in the near future, I know that it will be helping to foster leadership skills and build a more inclusive community.”

When she’s not teaching, coaching or implementing amazing programs for her students, Annie likes to spend time with her family, especially when it involves playing (and maybe winning) a game of cards.  She’s also planning to teach her dog to “just be cool” so she can finally take him out and about. “I’m not sure if this is a trick that can be taught, but I’d really like to be able to take him to a coffee shop... I’ve seen other dogs do this, so…!”

One of Annie’s favorite quotes exemplifies her extremely positive outlook on life and many of the principles that she incorporates into teaching and coaching. “Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that – that’s what life is.  You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something.  Now you know something about yourself” (Amy Poheler).

Thank you, Annie, for everything you’ve done to bring the Unified movement to George Middle School and for your continued support and dedication to Special Olympics Oregon’s school-based programs. We are so privileged to work with an educator who truly understands the power of inclusion and is committed to helping create a Unified Generation of youth leaders!

May Participant Spotlight

May 09, 2017 •

Ayzha McCall is a shining youth leader for Special Olympics Oregon. She began her involvement three years ago as a sixth grader at George Middle School where she participates in their Unified Sports program. Ayzha now competes on George’s Unified basketball and Unified soccer teams as a Unified partner. Aside from sports, Ayzha is also very involved with her school's newly created Unified Leadership class which engages students with and without intellectual disabilities to work together to develop leadership and sports skills.

Throughout her participation with George’s Unified Sports and Leadership programs, Ayzha’s biggest accomplishment has been improving her grades. “Since I’ve been involved with Unified, I’ve learned to care about different things,” said Ayzha. “Unified has helped me become a better leader – not just say I’m a leader. It has [also] helped me to care about other people, not just myself. Unified helps me feel like I belong.”

Ayzha is also a remarkable youth leader and advocate for Special Olympics Oregon’s Unified Champion Schools program. She recently spoke in front of ninety middle school students at an annual leadership conference about the impact that Unified Sports and other inclusive activities has on students and school climates. When asked who she looks up to, Ayzha said, “My mom is one of my role models. I get my creativity from her and she helps me achieve my goals. Ms. Watson, Ms. Simpson and Mr. R. are also my roles models because they are supportive and they’ve been there for me.”

Outside of Special Olympics Oregon, Ayzha also participates on George Middle School’s volleyball and basketball teams. In her spare time, Ayzha loves cooking, being creative, laughing, dancing and singing. 

Next year, Ayzha will go on to high school where she wants to participate in football and wrestling. After graduating from high school, Ayzha plans to attend college to become a lawyer. After that, she wants to become a teacher and work with kids in a Unified program. 

It’s no surprise that one of Ayzha’s favorite quotes is “you’re beautiful and unique in your own way. Don’t let people bring you down,”as these words perfectly depict the confident, kind and compassionate characteristics of Ayzha’s beaming personality and spirit. 

Ayzha is a true inspiration for young people and we couldn’t be more proud of her!

2017 Global Business Awards Luncheon

Apr 20, 2017 •

For more information, please call us at 503.248.0600

Winter Indoor Sports Les Schwab Pride In Performance Awards

Apr 11, 2017 •

Winter Indoor Les Schwab Pride In Performace Awards

Athlete Awardee: Andrea Eiden, Hermiston-Pendleton Local Program

Andrea has been participating with Special Olympics Oregon for 15 years.  She began participating in skiing and now participates in basketball, track & field and bowling.

She encourages her fellow athletes to do their best and challenges them and herself to do better.

Andrea always helps her teammates and goes above and beyond to help others. For example, If someone is unable to  travel to practice, she will offer to have her and her father pick them up.

This year for Track & Field she is hoping to challenge herself by training for and competing in the Pentathlon at Summer State Games in Corvallis!

Andrea has overcome a lot of difficulties in life and still has a positive outlook.  She is quite the inspiration!

 

Volunteer Awardee: Pam Boston, Josephine County Local 

Program

Pam Boston is an absolute hero for Special Olympics Oregon. She became involved when she and her husband Jim adopted their adult nephew Barry. Barry, who has intellectual disabilities, moved to Oregon from Florida. To help him integrate into his new community, Pam and Jim signed him up for Special Olympics Oregon.

Barry is an excellent athlete and truly loves sports, so it was a natural fit. Pam stepped in to help the Local Program. She became the Volunteer Coordinator and then took on more responsibilities in order to help strengthen the program. Several months ago, the long-time LPC retired and Pam stepped into the role. She has made a tremendous impact already! The program is flourishing, and never missed a beat during the transition.

Pam is also responsible for coaching one of the most successful Oregon Team Wellness programs in our state. She has been teaching it every  sports season for three years. Her athletes are well educated and well trained in the area of wellness. Pam is creative and always looking for ways to engage her athletes and keep their interest and dedication strong.

A natural born teacher, Pam also jumps in to help coach when needed. She recently assisted coaching basketball. She claims to not have a lot of knowledge in the sport, but she is making a strong effort to learn from her fellow coaches and her athletes.

At regional and state events, Pam is always ready to volunteer. With her delegation, she is the one who will stay up late into the night washing softball or soccer uniforms so the team looks sharp the next morning, and still greets the team early the next morning with a cheerful smile and encouraging word! With Pam, nothing is too much trouble; nothing is inconvenient. She just sees what needs to be done, and does it.

what is most impressive about Pam is that she performs countless duties and never seeks recognition. She is quick to check in with others to make sure they are doing well and to give them praise for their efforts.

This year, Pam decided to do the Polar Plunge because she loves the athletes of Special Olympics Oregon and wanted to support them in that way. When she couldn’t find anyone to join her team, the word spread to athletes, parents, and coaches. It wasn't long until others joined her in this effort!

She is truly loved by all and is a worthy recipient of the Pride in Performance Award.

Unified Sports makes lasting impact on West Albany student

Apr 11, 2017 •

A reflection written by West Albany High School student, Danae Greig, on the impact Special Olympics Oregon Unified Sports has had in her life.

Special Olympics Unified Sports® is a program that combines approximately equal numbers of Special Olympics athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities (known as unified partners) on sports teams for training and competition. Unified Sports shatters stereotypes about intellectual disabilities creating a culture of inclusion and respect. It is a key component of Unified Champion Schools, presented by Nike and Les Schwab Tire Centers.

 

West Albany Unified Sports
Written by: West Albany Student Danae Greig

When I first joined the Unified Sports class here at West Albany, I wasn't sure what I was in for. Nothing could have prepared me for the next two semesters of hanging out with great kids. Playing sports with them was a plus; I already enjoyed playing basketball for West and for my club team, so playing Special Olympics basketball expanded my view on what basketball can become. Special Olympics has changed my life on and off the court because being in class with amazing people everyday brings so much joy to my life.

I can always count on a “hello” from each kid when they first see me, whether that be in class or in the halls. Those “hellos” that often highlight my day never would have occurred if West’s Special Olympics program hadn't been featured last year by a basketball game that got my attention. I am so thankful that West creates awareness for the Unified team. I was inspired to help after watching their game, and I can't imagine what I would have missed out on if the word hadn't got out.

West’s Unified Sports class is filled with a tight knit group of individuals that become a team during the class. The relationships that are created encourage me to get to know each kid better. I've learned so much about Nascar from an athlete, how the cars are sponsored and which cars are fastest. I am able to step into part of their daily lives for a short time and get to know what they like to do, who they think is absolutely hilarious, or what their favorite songs are just by having simple conversations that turn into important friendships. The daily joys of knowing each kid personally encourages me to get to know them better and helps me be able to love the kids that much more.

Knowing what they like to do and who they are allows me to relate with them unlike any other person can. It creates a bond, a bond that isn't easily broken. One of our peer tutors got one of our athletes a gift for her birthday. It goes to show how close of a relationship you can have with someone by being devoted and passionate about the things we do each day. The class in general is a blast and it creates a loving, safe environment for peer tutors such as myself and for the athletes in the class. The relationships created benefit everyone in the class, and they are close relationships that mean the world to both people.

West Albany is constantly getting the word out about Special Olympics. When the basketball team had its showcase at West, the students packed the stands. The lights went dim, and the Special Olympics team ran through fog from fire extinguishers onto mid court. Each athlete's name was called in front of the fans and students and then the game began. This year our Special Olympics basketball team played against our varsity boys and girls basketball teams along with energetic coaches from both teams. This way three parts of West Albany were highlighted, including Unified Sports. During the game the athletes had a blast scoring baskets, and the students section, along with the band and cheerleaders, rooted them on, while discouraging the other team with our sports cheers. One of the special needs girls who wasn't on the Special Olympic basketball team was able to be a cheerleader on the sideline.

After the game the students who watched congratulated each athlete. The whole student body formed a huge circle, holding hands, and singing our alma mater while the band played along. Overall, the stands were energetic, the band was on point, the athletes were smiling, and on that day, West truly was unified.

School spirit continued as we went to OSU and competed against other Special Olympics teams. Students from West made the commute, along with various teachers, to watch our teams play. At the end of the day, West even received the sportsmanship award in one of our brackets. It was encouraging to see our athletes, students and teachers building awareness and showing school spirit even off the campus.

The Unified team at West has inspired and caused our community to grow in awareness and strength in advocating for special needs. West was the first high school in Albany to form a Special Olympics team and since then surrounding areas have embraced the new idea. South Albany brought one team to the OSU tournament, and it was their first time. Surrounding schools and organizations have started coming to West for information about Special Olympics because as our program grows, so do other programs in the community and local schools.

Unified Sports has created so many opportunities for me to learn how to be a better leader, teammate, and friend. The class and the people in it brighten my day, and I feel blessed to have this opportunity at my high school.  It allows the athletes a chance to play sports in a fun, competitive way and it is set in positive environments allowing athletes to be themselves and share moments that will be with them forever. The enthusiasm, support, and love in the class is what makes it unique from other classes in high school.  The Special Olympics program at West is just beginning, and as it grows, so will our school spirit and special needs awareness.

Special Olympics Oregon Athlete Super Plungers

Mar 14, 2017 • Athlete, Polar Plunge, Super Plunge

Over 3,000 people braved the frigid waters across the state as part of the 2017 Polar Plunge, raising over $500,000 for SOOR participants!

One group, the Super Plungers, took plunging to the extreme and dared to plunge 24 times in 24 hours. Together, these superheros raised $73,496!

For the first time, four Special Olympics Oregon participants joined the Super Plunger legacy, making this year's Super Plunge even more inspiring than ever.

Here is a Q & A with each of our Special Olympics Athlete Super Plungers:

Name: Bjorn King
Age: 25
County:  Washington County
Favorite Sport: Basketball

Q. Why did you decide to participate as a Super Plunger?
A. It sounded fun to me and I was excited to get to know everyone who was there. I was paired up with a police officer named TJ.  He acted as my unified partner for the plunge, so that was a bonus.

Q. Each plunge has a theme. Which plunge was your favorite?
A. There were a lot of themes, but I will have to go with animals because my costume was great. I was a big bear. My name actually means bear in Danish so I connected with the theme. I also chose the 70’s theme because I thought it would be funny.

Q. Do you think the experience has made a positive impact on you?
A. Yes. I made strong relationships with fellow Super Plungers that I hope will always remain.

(Left to Right: Bjorn, Cheyanne, key volunteer Diego, Jenny, and Jonathan.)

Name: Cheyanne West
Age: 22
County: Multnomah County
Favorite Sport: Power Lifting

Q. Can you explain what the Super Plunge is?
A. A Super Plunger is a person who jumps into the Columbia River 24 times in 24 hours, on the hour, to raise money for Special Olympics Oregon athletes, such as myself. This year was the first year that we had unified partners for the plunge. I got paired up with an officer named Andy who works for the Portland Police Bureau. We were unified partners in plunging.

Q. What was your favorite memory of the plunge?
A. My favorite memory was right before our last plunge. I thanked Andy for being my partner and friend.  I have had bad experiences in the past with the police, but he made me realize that they are amazing people who are just doing their very difficult jobs.  The officers then gathered around me and gave me a huge hug. I felt really happy to thank them and to gain new friends!

Q. What is the one thing a Super Plunger cannot live without during the 24 hrs?
A. A big comfy blanket. It gets so cold and the first thing I wanted to do after being in the river was jump into my warm blanket!  I kept it by the heater the whole time so it would be warm.

 

Name:  Jenny Hill
Age: 30
County:  Marion County
Favorite Sport: Bocce

Q. What was your favorite memory of the plunge?
A. I had a Super Plunge unified partner who was a fireman from Portland. His name was Laurent and he was amazing. He has become a very good friend to me and I hope we stay friends for a really long time.  I used to be scared of fireman, but now he has changed that for me.  Overall, I loved making new friends and hanging out with the staff, athletes and plungers. They are like family to me.  It was all a great memory.

Q. How did you feel once you completed the 24 Plunges in 24 hours?
A. It was truly amazing. I felt inspired and the experience made me feel like I did something right. I felt that God put this in my heart for me to do for other people. Once I completed this, I knew I achieved something big. I don’t usually get opportunities like this, so doing this was a once in a lifetime opportunity I will never forget.

Q. Would you Super Plunge again?
A. Pick me, pick me! I would not turn down that offer, no way! You will see me next year for sure.


Name: Jonathan Shockey
Age: 27
County: Washington County
Favorite Sport: Basketball

Q. How did you feel once you completed the 24 Plunges in 24 hours?
A. It felt so good to finish all the plunges.  I felt very proud of myself and said to myself, “I can’t believe I done it! it made me want to cry with joy.

Q. What was your favorite memory of the plunge?
A. My favorite memory was seeing everyone in their costumes for the 70’s plunge because people looked so silly and funny. It was hilarious. I enjoyed it all because it was the best fun I have had in ages. The whole Super Plunge is one of my favorite memories ever.

Q. Do you think the experience has made a positive impact on you?
A. Yes. I made friends and was around many different people the whole weekend. At first I was shy, but by the end of the plunge I was friends with everyone and knew I would miss them once it was finished.

Winter Games Les Schwab Pride In Performance Award Winners

Mar 13, 2017 •

Winter Games Les Schwab Pride In Performance Award Winners

Volunteer Award Winner: Terry Cannon, Hood River Local Program

Terry serves Special Olympics Oregon as the volunteer Local Program Coordinator for Hood River County. She is an outstanding leader and has developed a truly high quality program for her athletes.

Terry embodies the Special Olympics Mission by creating an environment where participants can truly experience all of the physical, emotional, and social benefits of sports.

Terry takes pride in her volunteer work. She never misses an important deadline, has great communication, values rules and policies, and has a very high level of professionalism in her volunteer role.

Even in recent times when experiencing a serious injury, Terry did not miss a beat in her responsibilities to her program.

Special Olympics Oregon and the Hood River community is extremely lucky to have Terry as a volunteer!

 

Athlete Award Winner: Jayme Fummerton

Jayme started participating in Special Olympics at 8 years old and has not missed a sports season in her 24 years of participation. One of her accomplishments has been her development from being a participant in a sport to being a competitor.

Jayme comes to every practice with such a great attitude and she is a role model for other athletes and coaches —she is always very positive and happy.  She is always quick to compliment other teammates and competition on their accomplishments and her positive energy is contagious.

Jayme has had to overcome some pretty tough obstacles due to illness and injury.  For example, she dislocated her knee cap and was in a wheelchair for part of the sports season, but that did not slow down the enthusiasm she had for the sport or her fellow athletes. During that season she insisted on going to the State Games just so she could cheer on her teammates.

Jayme has also participated in local fundraising events collecting donations to help raise funds for Special Olympics Oregon.

Jayme gives back in so many ways and always has a positive attitude and good sportsmanship.

 

Special Olympics Oregon World Winter Games Austria 2017 Delegation

Mar 01, 2017 •

World Games 2017, Austria

The World Winter Games Austria 2017 will take place March 14-25, 2017 in Graz/Schmalding, Austria and Special Olympics Oregon athletes and coaches will be there reaching for the gold!

Five SOOR athletes and four coaches are heading to Austria as part of Team USA. You can read more about each of SOOR's athletes and coaches by clickig on their bio below:

Ciara Berryessa-Buckalew Mandi Durfee Nicholas Mendiguren
Nolan Carlson Ashley Naber Jill Simmons - Coach
Riad Edwards - Coach Bryan Tweit - Coach Tom Wallace - Coach

In all, more than 3,000 athletes from around the globe will gather in Austria to compete and celebrate. The 

The 2017 World Games will be broadcast in the U.S. by Special Olypmics partner ESPN. The Opening Ceremony will be available live on Saturday, March 18th with daily event recaps and athlete stories broadcast throughout the entire Games. Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, along with ESPN anchors Kevin Negandhi, Lindsay Czarniak and Dustin Plunkett will host daily coverage on-site from Graz, Schladming-Rohrmoos and Ramsau.

U.S. TV Schedule:  ESPN’s Coverage of Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria

Sat, Mar 18   LIVE: Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 — Opening Ceremony 2-5 p.m. ABC
Sun, Mar 19  Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 2-3 p.m. ABC
Mon, Mar 20  Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 6-6:30 p.m. ESPN2
Tue, Mar 21   Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 6-7 p.m. ESPN2
Wed, Mar 22  Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 6-7 p.m. ESPN2
Thu, Mar 23   Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 6-7 p.m. ESPN2
Fri, Mar 24    Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 6-7 p.m. ESPN2
Sun, Mar 26  Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 —
Best of the Games 2-3 p.m. ABC

NOTE:   All shows will also be simulcast on the ESPN App and WatchESPN

Performances during the Opening Cerenomies include multi-Grammy Award-winning musician Jason Mraz, as well as 13-year-old winner of America’s Got Talent, Grace VanderWaal. Appearances by Princess Charlene of Monaco, Apolo Ohno, Hannah Teter, Dikembe Mutombo, Michelle Kwan, Sam Perkins and others are expected.

Be sure to follow Special Olympics Oregon on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates on our athletes as they go for the gold!

More information about these games can be found at http://www.austria2017.org/en/

 

February Volunteer Spotlight

Feb 21, 2017 •

Rick Hathaway has worked as a Corrections Deputy for the last 18 years and has been heavily involved with Special Olympics Oregon's (SOOR) Law Enforcement Torch Run, a grassroots movement that brings awareness to the community and fundraises throughout the year for SOOR.

Before working as a Corrections Deputy, Rick spent three years as a member of the Multnomah County Sherrif's Office (MCSO) Dive Team and five years as a member of the MCSO Work Crew Unit. He has also received numerous awards, including the 2017 MCSO Community Service Award and the 2015 MCSO Dive Team Unit Citation Award.

Rick's involvement has deep roots. As a member of the Bellridge Missouri Police Department, Rick carried the torch during the Special Olympics torch run. He is also a four time plunger for the Special Olympics Oregon Polar Plunge, and will be "Super Plunging" for the third year this weekend!

If you're not familiar with the "Super Plungers," these are incredible individuals who raise a minimum of $3,000 each, and then "plunge" into the freezing cold water every hour, on the hour, leading up to the start of the Portland Polar Plunge event- that's 24 plunges in 24 hours! After he completes the 2017 Super Plunge, Rick will have plunged 83 times in support of Special Olympics! 

Before becoming a Super Plunger, Rick also participated in the Polar Plunge as a safety diver during the event.

We are so thankful for the support  Rick has given, and continues to give, to Special Olympics Oregon. Congratulations on being the February Volunteer of the Month, and good luck at the Plunge this weekend!

February Athlete Spotlight

Feb 21, 2017 •

Robin Cassidy, Polk County Local Program

Robin Cassidy has been a Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) participant for about eight years, competing in swimming, softball, basketball, volleyball, and track. Before Robin became involved with SOOR, she was a high school student who didn’t know what her path would be in life. Once she became involved with sports activities, it changed her life forever. She swam on the varsity high school swim team, and was also on the track team. After high school, Robin joined Special Olympics Oregon. “I don’t know what I would do in life without it,” says Robin.

Through Special Olympics, Robin has made many great friends and teammates “We’ve become like one big family in Polk County. Without them I would feel lost. I love my team.”

Robin’s biggest accomplishment in Special Olympics has been improving her sportsmanship and attitude. “For a while I kind of lacked sportsmanship but my coaches were very supportive of me and have helped me improve there a lot. And being a good teammate, my coaches have really taught us how to be good teammates.” Robin has learned to work together with her team to achieve her goals. “We can accomplish anything if we work together.”

Robin has learned a lot from her coach, Jon, who has played a huge part in helping her improve her skills, as well as her coach Gary who always encourages her to have a positive attitude.

Coach Gary says that “Robin's dedication, tenacity, determination to get better individually and as a team, and out-going personality are just some of the things that draws her teammates to her.  She is very coach-able and is always looking for more ways to improve as an athlete.  Robin embodies the Gold-Medal standard that Polk County has adopted.  She arrives to practice with a positive attitude and perseveres through the different obstacles to better herself and her teammates.”

Aside from her teammates and coaches, Robin looks up to surfer Bethany Hamilton. “She was the surfer who lost an arm in a shark. She persevered through losing an arm, she never lost hope, and she won a bunch of championships even after the shark attack. She is very inspiring.”

Robin is an inspiration to all and lives up to her personal motto, “Live your life to the fullest and never give up. And never stop having fun. Remember to believe in yourself, even in your lowest points.”

January Volunteer Spotlight: Amy Nickell

Jan 16, 2017 •

Amy Nickell began volunteering with Special Olympics Oregon when she was at Aloha High School.  Now an Adaptive PE Teacher for the Redmond School District, Amy has devoted the last three years to building Redmond High School’s Unified basketball program and assisting as one of the coaches.  Amy is currently working to start a Unified Sports program at another school in the district, Ridgeview High School.

Amy’s passion for inclusion and providing students with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in sports is why she wanted to get involved with Special Olympics Oregon.  “They haven’t been able to participate before, but now Unified Sports gives the right setting to play.  I also like that it brings the students with and without intellectual disabilities together around a common goal of participating and competing in sport.”  As a PE teacher, Amy is very committed to this program because it gives her students another chance to be active, physically fit and to meet new people. 

When asked what her favorite SOOR memory is, Amy said it was at the Regional Unified Basketball Tournament for school teams last year at Oregon State University when her team competed.  “It was amazing to see the team come together and support each other.  It was the first time that many of our athletes had the chance to shoot a basketball, make a basket, and be a part of something that was bigger than themselves.  I loved seeing the athletes build confidence and be part of a team.  For our partners, it was amazing to see them involved in this program because it was outside of their normal everyday high school experience.  Many of them felt it was a cool program to be involved with.” 

When coaching her Unified basketball team, Amy always creates a positive and encouraging environment for her athletes and unified partners.  “The main thing I tell my team and my students is to not set your expectations low.  You never know what you can achieve.  I also tell our partners to never underestimate what our athletes can do.  They have accomplished great things and are always impressing me!”

Amy’s goal is to fully implement a Unified Sports program at Ridgeview High School so that both high schools in the district are involved.  Ultimately, her and her team would like to engage both schools in the Respect Campaign and other advocacy activities so that they can reach the Unified Champion School status and integrate all three components (Unified Sports, Inclusive Leadership and Whole School Engagement).  Amy would also like to eventually get local middle schools involved in Special Olympics Oregon.

Outside of her involvement with SOOR, Amy enjoys spending time with her husband, eight-year-old son, and four-year-old daughter.  They like to participate in many outdoor activities together including hiking, fishing and hunting.  Amy says that hunting for deer and elk is a great way for her and her husband to spend quality time together.

Thank you, Amy, for your continued dedication to providing inclusive opportunities to your students and for helping to expand our programming into more schools.  We are so appreciative of your time and support!

January Athlete Spotlight: Grace Almgren

Jan 16, 2017 •

Grace Almgren became involved with Special Olympics Oregon eight years ago as a participant at Youth Games, presented by Nike.  She has attended Youth Games every year since and also participated on a traditional basketball team with the Multnomah County Local Program two years ago.  Most recently, Grace joined Grant High School’s Unified basketball program so that she could train and compete alongside her peers.  This will be her second season playing on Grant’s Unified basketball team.

When asked what her favorite part about Special Olympics Oregon is, Grace said, “I like shooting the baskets in basketball!”  But this wasn’t always how Grace felt about sports.  When she first began participating she didn’t really enjoy it, but that changed after she joined Grant’s Unified basketball team.  Now she absolutely loves playing!  The encouragement from her peers cheering her on was just what Grace needed to feel confident and excited to participate!

“Grace is also a really good team player.  She’s happy for her teammates when they do well,” said Megan Hull, Grace’s Unified basketball coach at Grant. 

Outside of her involvement with Special Olympics Oregon, Grace enjoys hanging out with friends, attending her youth group, and participating in dance and choir at Grant High School.

Special Olympics Oregon participant, Atheena McClaughry, takes a stand against tobacco use.

Jan 09, 2017 •

Atheena McClaughry, Special Olympics Oregon participant, is a world champion with a message for other athletes about tobacco use.

“Is there a goal you want to achieve in Special Olympics? Do you want to go to national or world games? If so, smoking can hold you back,” she says.

Atheena, 34, has competed in Special Olympics in track and field, softball, soccer, basketball and swimming.In 2003, she won a gold medal in the 50-meter butterfly and a bronze medal in the 100-meter freestyle at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland.

Atheena, who has never accepted limits on what she can achieve in sports, has seen up close how tobacco can limit a life. Atheena’s mother has smoked cigarettes for 40 years. She nowhas chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and depends on an oxygen tank to breathe. Her health issues have prevented her from seeing Atheena compete for many years.

“I know she’s very proud of me for how far I’ve come, but she’s always wishing she could be there to watch me. I have other people to support me, but it’s not the same as seeing your mom there.”

To other athletes, parents and caregivers, Atheena says: “If you love your sport and you love this organization, if you want to be around to achieve or to watch your kids compete, then quitting tobacco is the answer.”

Help is available by calling the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line, a free program of the Oregon Health Authority. Quit Coaches are friendly and non-judgmental; many of them used to smoke and know firsthand how hard it is to quit. You can receive coaching by phone or online, and you may be able to receive free nicotine patches or gum. If you’re ready to quit or know someone who is, call the free Quit Line now.

1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) www.quitnow.net/Oregon.
Español: 1-855-DEJELO-YA (1-855-335356-92), https://www.quitnow.net/oregonsp/
TTY: 1-877-777-6534

2016 Fall Les Schwab Pride In Performance Athlete and Volunteer Awardees

Nov 02, 2016 •

The Fall Pride in Performance Award for Outstanding Volunteer is Laura Little from Washington County Local Program.

Laura has volunteered with Special Olympics Oregon for six years and is an excellent Coach for Bowling, Golf and Basketball Skills. She takes the time to get to know her athletes on a personal level and works with them to support their development as a player on and off the field. Laura has built a great rapport with many athletes and they enjoy being a part of her teams and gives 110% every practice with a smile on her face. Laura is also a very important part of the management team and has assisted with a variety of roles during a huge transition time - including helping with fundraising events like Tip-a-Cop and Support-a-Winner.  She is the glue that keeps holding Washington County together! Thank you, Laura, for your passion and dedication to Special Olympics Oregon.

 

The Fall Pride In Performance award for Outstanding Athlete is Christie Clark from Washington County Local Program.

Christie has been a participant with Special Olympics Oregon for over 20 years! She demonstrates great athleticism in all of the sports she participates in and pushes herself to improve each season. She asks questions, takes and follows directions, and is constantly working to improve her own abilities and abilities of the team as whole. She has a fantastic attitude, is very team-centered and excels in sportsmanship. At every volleyball practice she cheers on her teammates, provides tips to help them and encourages them through their frustrations. After each scrimmage game in practice she quickly moves to congratulate the other team, as well as, congratulate her own teammates on their performance. Christie is an exemplary athlete and we are truly inspired by her!

Eat at Chipotle November 12, 2016 & Support Special Olympics Oregon!

Nov 02, 2016 •

To celebrate Special Olympics Oregon Fall State Games, visit any Chipotle in Oregon or SW Washington on Nov. 12 and 50% of your purchase will benefit Special Olympics Oregon. Don't forget to bring this flyer, show it on your Smartphone or mention Special Olympics when you pay, that way you'll know your donation is wrapped up and ready to go.

2016 Youth Games Presented by Nike

Nov 02, 2016 •

 

 

Burgerville supports Special Olympics Oregon this October

Oct 18, 2016 •

Burgerville locations across the region are partnering with Special Olympics Oregon to raise support and awareness for the 2017 Polar Plunge. October 17-31, 26 Burgerville restaurants from Corvallis to Vancouver are inviting customers to make $1 or $5 donations towards the Polar Plunge and hang a personalized icon in store.

Come February, Burgerville employees will be taking the Plunge in Oregon’s icy rivers, based on the funds raised in their store. Visit the participating Burgerville in your neighborhood to support Special Olympics Oregon and its 13,000 participants!

Burgerville is statewide sponsor of the 2017 Polar Plunge and long-time supporter of the Special Olympics Oregon Summer State Games.

Join us October 22, 2016 for the Red Robin Tip-A-Cop!

Oct 14, 2016 •

Oregon’s Red Robin restaurants are partnering with law enforcement officers across Oregon to raise support and awareness for Special Olympics Oregon. On Saturday October 22 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. local law enforcement will collect donations from Red Robin guests to benefit local Special Olympics programs. All donations collected during Tip-A-Cop will support Special Olympics Oregon and its 13,000 statewide participants.

Special Olympics shares many of the same values as Red Robin and Red Robin is honored to support this worthy cause across the country. Over the past ten years, more than $3.5 million dollars have been raised to support Special Olympics nationally, and locally has nearly $500,000 has been raised.

Tip-a-Cop events are facilitated by the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), an association of officers across Oregon who volunteer their time to serve Special Olympics athletes and generate funds to support their endeavors. The following law enforcement agencies are participating in the October 22 Red Robin Tip-a-Cop:

Medford Police -  Medford
Bend Police - Bend
Lebanon & Albany Police - Albany
Douglas County Sheriff - Roseburg
Beaverton Police - Beaverton
Clackamas County Sheriff - Clackamas
Salem Police - Salem
Eugene, Gold Beach, Springfield Police - Eugene
Tigard Police – Washington Square
Hillsboro Police - Hillsboro
Washington County Sheriff - Tanasbourne
US Coast Guard – Lloyd Center
Clackamas County Sheriff - Wilsonville
Multnomah County Sheriff – Mall 205
Gresham Police, Multnomah Sheriff - Gresham
Sherwood Police - Sherwood
Port of Portland Police – Cascade Station
Woodburn Police - Woodburn
Coffee Creek Corrections - Tualatin
 

Make sure to visit your local Red Robin on October 22!

October Athlete Spotlight: Jordan Allen, Lincoln County

Oct 10, 2016 •

Jordan Allen has been involved with the Special Olympics Oregon in Lincoln County  for the last 12 years. He participates in each sports season; Summer, Fall and Winter, but his favorite sport is basketball. He loved playing on a Unified basketball team last year.

Jordan's favorite thing about participating in Special Olympics is that he has formed lifelong friendships with his teammates. He loves to travel to competitions with his teammates, and of course "win medals!"

Jordan is a true sports-lover and when he's not training and competing with Special Olympics, he enjoys going to local basketball, football and volleyball games. He also enjoys going to his church’s youth group, watching movies and rocking out to music!

Jordan works at the local elementary school helping with lunchtime duties in the kitchen. He is an extremely reliable and eager employee. He is up and ready to go every single work day and says he enjoys seeing the kids and other friends that work at the school.

Being a part of Special Olympics, and part of a team, makes him happy. He loves his coaches, especially Coach Nikki Holland! Holland says, “Jordan is a year-round athlete in track, basketball and bowling. He even tried bocce last year. He is very dependable, always at practices and will help with any and all fundraisers. He is such a kind and caring person who has become a true friend over all these years. His is the face I often think of when I think of Special Olympics, and it always makes me smile."

NIKE AND SPECIAL OLYMPICS OREGON CELEBRATE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OREGON YOUTH GAMES AT NIKE WORLD HEADQUARTERS

Sep 22, 2016 •

MEDIA ADVISORY    IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

NIKE AND SPECIAL OLYMPICS OREGON CELEBRATE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OREGON YOUTH GAMES AT NIKE WORLD HEADQUARTERS
- Nike to Donate $200,000 to Special Olympics Oregon to Support Unified Champion High Schools Throughout the State of Oregon -

WHAT:
NIKE, Inc., and Special Olympics Oregon are teaming up for the 10th anniversary of the Special Olympics Oregon Youth Games at Nike World Headquarters on Saturday, September 24, 2016.

Since 2007, more than 4,500 young people have participated in the Special Olympics Oregon Youth Games at Nike World Headquarters. This one-day event focuses on introducing young athletes* with intellectual disabilities to the basics of a popular sport. On the heels of the Games in Rio this summer, participants of the Youth Games will have their own opportunity celebrate the spirit of competition and reach their potential though Special Olympics Oregon’s life-changing programs while interacting with local and professional athletes, including an Olympic gold medalist and two Paralympians.

Two notable athletes from the Rio Games include: Olympic gold medalist in diving David Boudia, Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon Galen Rupp and Paralympic track and field athlete Scout Bassett. Triathlete Sarah Reinertsen, Portland Trail Blazer Mason Plumlee, distance runner Jordan Hasay and members of the University of Portland men’s basketball team will also be involved in the event.

Debbie Antonelli, a college basketball analyst for ESPN, will also take part in the event along with her 17-year old son, Frankie, who has Down syndrome. During the Opening Ceremonies for the Youth Games, the two will share their inspirational story about the benefits of Special Olympics and the power of sport and determination to maximize abilities instead of disabilities.

Nike is proud to celebrate this milestone event with a $200,000 donation to Special Olympics Oregon, serving as the catalyst to develop 90-100 qualifying Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools at high schools throughout the state of Oregon, over the next two academic school years. Building on existing Unified Sports programs and developing new ones, Special Olympics Unified Schools will provide a unique combination of sports, education and leadership activities to equip students with the tools and training to create sport, classroom and school cultures of acceptance and inclusion.  These programs will allow students to develop school communities where all youth are agents of change and foster respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Nike's donation in support of Unified Sports is part of the company’s broader commitment to support organizations that provide early positive experiences in sport for physically and intellectually challenged young athletes. After the Youth Games, Special Olympics Oregon will showcase Unified Soccer at a special lunchtime exhibition match between Century and Forest Grove High Schools.

“Nike supports the unlimited potential of all athletes,” said Caitlin Morris, Nike’s Senior Director of North America Community Impact. “It has been an honor to partner with Special Olympics Oregon over the past 10 years to bring the power of sport to thousands of young people with intellectual disabilities, giving them a positive experience and inspiring them to be active for life.”

Nike’s broader commitment to supporting athletes with intellectual and physical disabilities includes design expertise as exemplified by the FLYEASE collection. FLYEASE provides a wrap-around zipper solution that makes it easier to put on and remove the shoe. At the same time, it provides sufficient lockdown and eliminates the need to tie traditional laces. FLYEASE launched in 2015 with the LeBron Soldier and expanded this past Spring to a full family of basketball and running shoes: The LeBron Soldier 9, Pegasus 32 and Flex Run, each designed for kids and adults. FLYEASE construction received several honors, including being heralded as an Innovation of the Year by TIME Magazine and named one of the “innovations that changed the world in 2015” by Mashable.com. FLYEASE inspiration Matthew Walzer and senior designer Tobie Hatfield also presented FLYEASE at the White House Design for All Showcase earlier this month.
   
“This event has surpassed all of our original expectations and it continues to get better every year,” said Margie Hunt, CEO of Special Olympics Oregon. “Since the Youth Games began in 2007, youth participation for Special Olympics Oregon has increased 144% and participation overall has increased nearly 10-fold. In addition, 3,429 Nike volunteers have also given a total of 17,145 hours of their time in support of this event. Our relationship with Nike is a phenomenal partnership and it is with great gratitude that I thank them for all of their support over the past 10 years. Together we have inspired greatness through the transformative power of sports.”

The Youth Games event is co-produced by Nike and Special Olympics Oregon, and funded by Nike. More than 400 Nike volunteers help run the annual event, which is free to registrants. Sports instruction and competition is limited to youth ages 6 to 18 years of age with intellectual disabilities.


• Margie Hunt, CEO of Special Olympics Oregon
• Caitlin Morris, Nike Senior Director of North America Community Impact
• Debbie Antonelli, college basketball analyst for ESPN, along with her son Frankie
• More than 500 Special Olympics youth participants and their families
• More than 400 Nike volunteers

Nike Athletes
• Scout Bassett – Holds three 100-meter Paralympic national titles, the female T42¹ Paralympic American record in the 100 and 200 meters, the world record in the 400 meters, and recently finished 10th in the long-jump and 5th in the 100 meters in the 2016 Games.
• David Boudia – Four-time Olympic medalist (1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze) in 10-meter individual and synchronized platform diving at the 2012 and 2016 Games.
Jordan Hasay – 2013 US T&F World Championship Trials 10,000m Silver Medalist.
• Mason Plumlee – Trail Blazers center
• Sarah Reinertsen ¬– First female amputee triathlete to compete in the Ironman Kona.
• Galen Rupp – Two-time Olympic medalist in the 10,000 meters (silver in the 2012 Games) and marathon (bronze in the 2016 Games).

WHEN:
Saturday, September 24, 2016, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
10:00 - Opening Ceremonies
10:30 - Sports instruction
12:30 - Awards at individual sports venues


WHERE: Tiger Woods Center, Nike World Headquarters
One Bowerman Drive
Beaverton, OR 97005
Media parking available in The Park parking structure. Enter Nike World Headquarters via SW Murray Boulevard and follow posted signs.

CONTACTS: Torre Chisholm
Special Olympics Oregon
Office: (503) 248-0600
Cell: (503) 866-0226
tchisholm@soor.org

Dawn Myrah 
Weinstein PR for Nike
Cell: (503) 757-7487
dawn@weinsteinpr.com

About Special Olympics Oregon
Special Olympics Oregon serves children, youth and adults with intellectual disabilities —the largest disability population in the state—through year-round programs that provide participants the opportunity to develop physical fitness though sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports, receive regular health education and screenings, enjoy ongoing mentoring from trained volunteers, access family networking and advocacy resources, and increase their overall quality of life in school, at home and in their communities. Special Olympics participants demonstrate courage, experience joy and are able to participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship. Their positive spirit, determination to succeed and innate human decency makes them powerful ambassadors for greatness. For more information, visit soor.org and follow @SOORstate.

About NIKE, Inc.  
NIKE, Inc. based near Beaverton, Ore., is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly-owned NIKE, Inc. subsidiaries include Converse, which designs, distributes and licenses casual sneakers, apparel and accessories; and Hurley, which designs and distributes a line of action sports and youth lifestyle apparel and accessories. For more information, visit nike.com and follow @Nike.

About Nike Community Impact
Nike believes in the power of sport to move the world and unleash human potential. However, the world is moving less and less, and today's generation of children is the least physically active ever. That’s why Nike works to get kids (ages 7-12) active early and for life, because active kids are happier, healthier and more successful. Together with its employees, partners, consumers and athletes, Nike also supports important causes that strengthen communities across the globe. Learn more.

September Athlete Spotlight: Kevin Zwart, Marion County

Sep 19, 2016 •

Kevin Zwart (pictured Right Center) from Marion County has participated in Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) swimming for 15 years and it has changed his life immensely. Kevin has faced many personal obstacles in his life, and swimming has helped him face, and overcome, many of those challenges.

"Before being involved with Special Olympics, I had a hard time coping with my autism," said Kevin. "My parents took me places where there is water, like a river, a lake, or a beach on the ocean...Then they took me to a public pool at the YWCA in Salem and that is the place where I started taking swim lessons...Since then I realized that swimming would help [me] cope with my autism."

After Kevin started swimming with SOOR, he was motivated to swim in other aspects of his life, especially at his high school. He began swimming on the Sprague High School Swim Team and earned a letter for 4 years in a row. "I felt like a strong competitive swimmer and an accomplished athlete," said Kevin. He then joined the Bearcats Swim Club for even more advanced training when he turned 17.

"Being part of Special Olympics made me feel like I was in a community of athletes with disabilities and overall it made me feel spectacular...the coaches helped me on improving my strokes and giving me strong workouts.  Also, they gave me good advice on what makes a good swimmer."

Kevin participated at the 2006 Special Olympics National Games and the 2011 Special Olympics World Games and won a gold medal in all of his events. His favorite memory in Special Olympics is being part of the delegation for the 2011 Special Olympics World Games in Greece, "and of course winning four gold medals," he said.

While Kevin gets so much joy out of swimming, and winning gold medals, he also has learned valuable lessons on teamwork. "One thing I learned about teamwork was to show some encouragement to other teammates to lift their competitive spirit." Kevin is an excellent motivator, and offers his advice to others swimmers: "Think positive thoughts and have the courage to be strong."  He admires Michael Phelps and his accomplishments, which also keeps him motivated at his swimming events.

Kevin now works as a pool attendant at the Salem Kroc Community Center, and when he is not swimming, enjoys drawing, cars and trains, and playing video games.

"There is a saying mom tells me before I swim competitively...'Swim like the Gulf Stream' because it was named after the world’s fastest ocean current."
We are honored to name Kevin as the September athlete of the month! Your motivation, teamwork, and positive spirit are inspiring. Keep on swimming!

September Volunteer Spotlight: Ellen Courtney,

Sep 19, 2016 •

Ellen Courtney began watching her sister compete in Special Olympics in the early 1970s. Her oldest son was born premature, and when he reached the age to start school she became a Special Olympics Oregon volunteer.  She volunteered for Track and Field, Bowling, and Snow skiing, but her favorite was becoming a bowling coach. Eventually, Ellen became the Jefferson County volunteer Local Program Coordinator.

"SOOR always provided [my son] a safe supportive place to practice his skills. Then on the weekend of competition it was all about him...he met with success and came home thrilled, happy, confident and usually [had] a medal to show for it. What more could a mother have asked for?"

Ellen continues her involvement with SOOR purely because of the joy Special Olympics brings to those who participate. She sees first-hand the determination, joy, inclusion, and pride that her athletes have when competing.

"Where can a person with a disability go to get so much positive attention and feel success in a world that makes fun of things they don’t understand? SOOR does it up right!"

She has had some wonderful experiences with her athletes, and some that will forever stand out to her. "One of my favorite memories I call: All for the love of a hamburger. I was an assistant coach and had been working with a young man...During one district track meet I was determined to get him around the track to participate...so I ran up to the kitchen, grabbed one of their last burgers and proceeded to coach him around the track. Every so often I would stop and give him a bite...we ran that track in the rain with everyone cheering him on."
When not volunteering her time, Ellen enjoys card making, sewing, biking, hiking, learning new things, reading, and playing with her grandchildren.

"I encourage those participating in SOOR to respect each other, do your best... and have fun."

Thank you, Ellen, for your hard work and constant encouragement to SOOR athletes! We appreciate your time and commitment.

Worldview Wealth Advisors Join SOOR as Presenting Sponsor of Governors' Gold Awards

Sep 08, 2016 • governors gold awards

Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) is proud to announce a newly formed partnership with Worldview Wealth Advisors to be the presenting sponsor of its 13th annual Governors’ Gold Awards.  Governors’ Gold Awards, hosted by Oregon's current and former Governors, will take place Saturday, October 22 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.  The 2016 Governors’ Gold Awardees include Nike Youth Games, Fred Meyer Stores, Merritt Paulson/Portland Timbers & Thorns, Samuel S. Johnson Foundation, and the Al and Pat Reser Civic Leadership Award presented to Steven & Susan Corey.

SOOR CEO Margie Hunt said, "We are thrilled to partner with Worldview Wealth Advisors on this major gala. Worldview's leadership has already demonstrated a strong commitment to our mission and participants, and their involvement will strengthen the event." 

The Governors' Gold Awards benefits Special Olympics Oregon, serving Oregonians with intellectual disabilities statewide since 1972.   Worldview Wealth Advisors replaces AIM Wealth Advisory Group as Presenting Sponsor.  Andrew Fisher, CFA, CPA and President of Worldview mentioned that

“Worldview is honored to be a part of celebrating excellence in Oregon and most importantly benefiting such a wonderful organization that is changing the lives of those in our local communities.”

For more information on Governors’ Gold Awards, please visit www.governorsgoldawards.com.

About Worldview Wealth Advisors
Worldview Wealth Advisors (formerly known as Maxim Global Wealth Advisors) is an independent investment advisor to globally oriented families in the USA and abroad, as well as to local families all over the Portland metro area. Worldview Wealth Advisors provides managed investment portfolios, personal financial planning, real estate solutions and retirement planning in an unbiased and client-focused setting.  Their clients are located around the world, providing a global perspective on the investment landscape.  Worldview Wealth Advisors mission is to build lasting client relationships based on a level of trust that is earned through well-informed and smart counsel, investment results, and transparent and candid communication.  Worldview has offices in Portland, San Francisco and Amsterdam. For more information on Worldview Wealth Advisors, please visit www.worldviewwealth.com

Corvallis to host 2017 Summer State Games

Aug 10, 2016 •

Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) has selected Corvallis, Oregon and Oregon State University as the future hosts of its Summer State Games. This major event is the culmination of the summer season for Special Olympics participants from 30 local programs across Oregon.  The 2017 Summer State Games are slated for July 8 & 9.

Featuring over 2,000 Special Olympics Oregon athletes, 600 coaches, and 1,400 event volunteers, the Summer State Games is SOOR’s largest annual competition, as well as one of Oregon’s most significant sports and humanitarian events.

In reaching this decision, SOOR worked closely with Oregon State University and other community partners to develop plans that will enable growth in participation, as well as ensure the best possible participant experience.

"What an exciting day!" stated SOOR CEO Margie Hunt, "SOOR is thrilled to partner with Corvallis and Oregon State on this statewide event. OSU has clearly adopted the Games and is just as committed as we are to creating an unbelievable experience for our participants and their families."

SOOR will work with facilities across the City and University, including Reser Stadium for the Games Ceremony, OSU for bocce and softball, Corvallis High School for athletics, Trysting Tree Golf Course for golf, and Philomath HS for softball to facilitate the Games. The majority of the participants will be housed at OSU.
“Oregon State University is delighted to be involved in hosting such an important event,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “It will be a great opportunity for our students and others in Beaver Nation to work with these dedicated athletes and their coaches.”

SOOR will also work closely with OSU Athletics, OSU Housing and Dining Services, Corvallis and Philomath Schools and other community service organizations to create community engagement events for participants, families, and area residents to enjoy as part of the weekend festivities.

The Games have spent the last six (6) years in Newberg, Oregon.  Newberg is credited with establishing a new standard of excellence for the Summer State Games, through active, comprehensive community support and engagement, which lead to a 64% growth in participants over the six (6) years. However, after careful consideration, SOOR concluded that relocation was necessary to allow for the continued growth of the event. Special Olympics Oregon Board of Directors President Kerry Tymchuk lauded Newberg, "SOOR will always be grateful to the citizens and leadership in Newberg, who made the community a second home for our athletes. This move is a success story and a big part of that success belongs to Newberg."

SOOR will host a kick-off event in the coming weeks to announce further details for the Games and to introduce the Games Organizing Committee.

August Athlete Spotlight: Robert Farmer of Linn County

Aug 02, 2016 •

In 2013 Robert joined the Linn County Special Olympics family. Since then he has participated in softball and volleyball. He started out on the coach pitch team for softball and has advanced to the traditional team, which is a big accomplishment!

Before becoming a Special Olympics Oregon athlete, Robert was very shy and had little or no confidence in his abilities. Now, he has built up great confidence in himself and has become quite the social butterfly. He gives advice and encouragement to new athletes and to his teammates, and has become a great role model and leader.

Robert enjoys meeting new people and seeing old friends he has made at the Regional and State games. He also has learned to trust his coaches and teammates. Robert says he has been given great advice throughout his life,  but the advice that stands out the most came from his cousin, who he admires very much; “Keep your eye on the ball” and “Stay calm if you strike out.” Roberts’s cousin Austin continues to encourage him to try new things and to never give up.

Special Olympics Oregon has given Robert the confidence he needs to do great things in the community. He is currently looking for employment, and when he is not competing in Special Olympics, he loves to camp, fish, ride ATV’s and bikes, play soccer and spend time with his family and friends.

Robert says that if he had to think of a motto for himself it would be, “Play hard or go home." He truly gives 110% into everything he does! We are so thrilled to name Robert as the August Athlete of the Month!

August Volunteer Spotlight: Angie Schmidling

Aug 01, 2016 •

Angela Schmidling has been a dedicated SOOR volunteer for 22 years and first got involved when her son Sean was 10.  Schmidling says “I am a Special Olympics athlete's mom first and foremost. Although I know that isn't a volunteer duty, it was my introduction to this awesome opportunity of being more involved.”  Starting out as a Unified Partner for bocce, she got bit by the bocce bug and has now been the Head bocce coach for more than a 12 years.

Her dedication has continued to grow and she is serving as the High Desert Local Program’s Communication Manager and Volunteer Manager, as well as stepping in at times as a co-Local Program Coordinator.  Schmidling says she remains involved with the program because the athletes are some of her favorite people to work with. She says they are all hardworking and dedicated athletes. Getting involved in their journey and seeing their accomplishments has helped her to feel like she can achieve anything. 

When she’s not coaching or volunteering for Special Olympics, Angie enjoys music, baking (she’s well known for her scrumptious homemade cookies), and spending time with her grandchildren. Sewing and embroidery bring her joy when she is able to find time for those pursuits.

When asked what she would do if she won  the lottery, Schmidling had definite ideas at the ready! Included in her list would be a large donation to Special Olympics, setting up sports transportation opportunities for athletes, and building a training facility for Special Olympics in the High Desert area.

SOOR is thankful to have Angela Schmidling involved with our mission – a truly dedicated and talented volunteer.

SOOR Timbers head to upcoming Special Olympics Unified Sports 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Experience

Jul 21, 2016 •

Our SOOR Timbers representatives for the upcoming Special Olympics Unified Sports 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Experience in San Jose, CA on July 25-29  had a unique opportunity to get a peek behind the scenes with the club prior to their trip next week.

Major League Soccer will be sending Special Olympics Oregon Unified Partner Matthew McMillen (Century HS), Athlete Ray Morrow (Forest Grove HS) and Coach Hannah Herbert (Forest Grove HS) to represent the Portland Timbers as part of the Western Conference Unified Sports All-Star team.

What started as an exchange between Cascadia rivals Special Olympics Oregon Timbers and Special Olympics Washington Sounders in 2011 has now grown to feature a partnership with Special Olympics North America, Major League Soccer, ESPN and other partners.
 
Pictured above, Matt and Ray received 
personalized Timbers jerseys from Coach Caleb Porter and players Jack Barmby and Nat Borchers. Coach Porter had some kind words of encouragement and wished both Matt and Ray good luck!

We are so thankful for our partnership with the Portland Timbers, the Official Sponsor of Special Olympics Oregon Unified Soccer and host of our annual Fall State Games.

To learn more about the SO Unified Sports 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Experience visit: http://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2016/06/01/mls-worksspecial-olympics-unified-sports-all-star-soccer-match

 

2016 Special Olympics Cascadia Championship Series

Jul 18, 2016 •

The Special Olympics Oregon Timbers hosted the Special Olympics Washington Sounders in the first leg of the 6th annual Special Olympics Unified Soccer Cascadia Challenge Series on Saturday, July 16, 2016 at Adidas Village field in Portland, Oregon.

The SOOR Timbers jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 10 minutes.  However, the SOWA Sounders stormed back with 4 goals in the final 8 minutes of the first half to take a 4-2 lead into the halftime break. The competitions was fierce!

The Sounders opened the second half with an early goal to build a 5-2 cushion.  The SOOR Timbers were able to close the gap to 5-4 with several solid chances to equalize before the SOWA Sounders were able to score a late goal to make the final score 6-4. Congratulations to both teams for an outstound competition!

The teams also played an exhibition match at Providence Park on Sunday, July 17th prior to the Seattle Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers match.

Unified Sports®

A program that combines approximately equal numbers of Special Olympics athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities (Unified Partners) on sports teams for training and competition.  The Portland Timbers are the official sponsor of Special Olympics Oregon Unified Sports® Soccer.

About the Special Olympics Cascadia Challenge Series

In 2011, Special Olympics Washington and the Seattle Sounders FC as a Special Olympics Global Football partner joined Special Olympics Oregon and the Portland Timbers to participate in the first annual Cascadia Championship Series. This ground-breaking series has helped launch a league-wide partnership between Special Olympics and MLS which has grown to see many more programs form relationships with their clubs.

Thank you to the Portland Timbers for hosting this event! The second game of the home and away series will played in Seattle during the weekend of August 20-21.

Summer State Games Pride in Performance and Ken Davis Unsung Hero Award

Jun 22, 2016 •

Pride In Performance Athlete Award

Travis Koski is this year's Pride In Performance Athlete Award recipient. He has participated in Special Olympics Oregon for 7 years and always comes to practice prepared and willing to spread his positivity to the team.  He is always willing to help others by teaching them skills and drills. Travis always strives to do his best, whether it be in athletics or academics. He is a well rounded athlete, participating in soccer, basketball, skiing, and swimming. Not only is he involved in Special Olympics, but he is also an athlete on the Century track and field team. Living with an intellectual disability can make life difficult.

Travis used to be very quiet and didn’t like being around others because he felt different, but over the years he has grown to be very social and active through Special Olympics Oregon. He continuously has a positive outlook on life and encourages others to be positive and respectful to one another. Travis helps to spread this understanding as a speaker through the SOOR global messenger program.

Travis has made a huge impact on his fellow teamates, as well as his unified sports coach, Lynn, at Century High School. Thank you Travis for continuing to inspire!

Pride in Performance Volunteer Award

Carmen Dowell is this year's Pride In Performance Volunteer 

Award recipient. Carmen is a local Co-LPC, coach, assistant coach and a unified partner and is dedicated to providing as many opportunities to the athletes as possible. She always does what is best for the athletes, spends many hours preparing for each event and is always is ready to help. She has been an active volunteer with the Local Program since 2008 and is the backbone of the program.

Carmen's involvement in our Polar Plunge program has resulted in an award winning season! Because of her enthusiasm, all of our events and sports seasons are rewarding and athletes have a great time. Thank you Carmen for all of your time and effort in supporting Special Olympics Oregon and our outstanding athletes!

 

Ken Davis Unsung Hero Award

Officer Pam Ramsey from McMinnville Police Department is this year's 2016 Ken Davis Unsung Hero Award recipient! Pam began getting involved in Oregon Law Enforcement Torch Run in 2010 when she was asked to participate in their local Tip-a-Cop and has "run" with the movement ever since. She has been instrumental in coordinating McMinnville Police Department leg of the Torch Run, their annual Tip-a-Cop, and has also inspired other agencies to start their own fundraising efforts.

In 2015 Pam launched the first annual Oregon LETR Plane Pull at Evergreen Aviation Museum. She picked up this fundraising idea when researching other states LETR events and decided she wanted to bring it back to Oregon. The first event was a huge success, bringing together law enforcement and community teams to test their strength at pulling a plane!

After six years of volunteering her time and energy Pam says it’s the message of inclusion and endless high-fives and hugs from athletes that keeps her coming back for more.

Thank you Pam for all of your support, we’ll keep the hugs and high-fives coming!

 

Seattle Seahawks Vs. Atlanta Falcons Raffle Tickets On Sale Now!

Jun 16, 2016 •

Are you a Seahawks fan? Do you want to see them take on the Atlanta Falcons in September? Purchase your Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons Package RAFFLE TICKETS today to be entered for a chance to win! Email Ashley Allenby at aallenby@soor.org or call at 503-248-0600 x39 today to purchase your tickets!


**To purchase tickets you must pick them up at the Special Olympics Oregon state office located at 5901 SW Macadam, Suite 200, Portland, OR 97239 (no tickets will be mailed)**

June Athlete Spotlight: Daniel Abbott

Jun 08, 2016 •

Daniel Abbott was born in Cottage Grove, OR and first got involved in Special Olympics Oregon when he was only seven years old and has been involved ever since. He participates in  bowling, track & field and basketball. While Daniel is a well rounded athlete, basketball is his favorite sport to participate in. Special Olympics Oregon has provided  him with a big support system and brings him so much joy every day!

Aside from competing in Special Olympics, Daniel always looks forward to the Summer State Games dance at the end of the night where he has a ball dancing with his fellow athletes!  Daniel loves to have fun and is a big jokester who loves to laugh.

When Daniel is not participating in Special Olympics, he loves listening to country music, Star Wars, and hanging out with his coach, Gene. Daniel also LOVES  to celebrate his birthday every year with those who know and love him.
Daniel is an outstanding Special Olympics Oregon athlete. If you see him at one of our competitions, he's sure to make you smile!

June Volunteer Spotlight: Cpt. Chris Bolek of Newberg-Dundee Police Department

Jun 07, 2016 •