Volunteer Spotlight: Sharon Patapoff of Washington County

Nov 04, 2015 • Volunteer

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,  but by the moments that take our breath away."

That’s the motto that Special Olympics Oregon Aquatics Coach Sharron Patapoff lives by. We are very fortunate to have her as part of our family. Sharron has been the Head Coach for Aquatics in Washington County since 1981.  At the time, she was working part-time at the Beaverton Swim Center where she started teaching a specialized aquatics program.  It was hard for Sharron in the beginning  to know if she was making an impact.  Sharron was coaching a young man named Steve at the time, and she was unsure whether she was making a difference in his life.  Steve's mom told her once, "remember that a small improvement is monumental for us.  You may not see it in the moment – but we do.”  

This opened  Sharron's eyes  to  the impact she was capable of making in the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and the possibilities of expanding the SOOR aquatics program. Sharron did such a great job teaching aquatics that many parents asked her to sign their kids up for Special Olympics.  When the fall season came around, that is exactly what Sharron did. She began recruiting more athletes and coaches for the program. A few years later, Sharron became the Supervisor at the Beaverton swim center, a position she held for 30 years in conjunction with coaching for Special Olympics Oregon.

Sharon's favorite part about coaching for SOOR is how eager the swimmers are to learn from their coaches. "I admires the way they all support and treat each other.  They are proud of themselves when they improve and want to do their best."

"We have high expectations of our athletes!  There’s no coddling.  We work on side breathing, correct strokes, etc.  We expect them to become good swimmers … and it’s a life skill." Sharron says our athletes can outshine the majority of the people in this world with their swimming skills. "Many parents say because of their swimming skills, they also do much better in school. It’s a great program!" says Sharron.

"I could not do this by myself.  The coaches that run this program with me are so skilled, talented, engaging, and enthusiastic. They really want to be there. I get way more out of this than the athletes get from me.  I reap the benefits of their friendship and willingness to learn and work. There are moments where they knock your socks off!  They really keep you going. "

Sharron retired from the Beaverton Swim Center at age 68, but continues coaching for SOOR. "There is a bond with a coach and athlete that contributes to their success.  It’s priceless. That’s why you don’t quit."

Thank you Sharron for your motivation and passion for teaching such valuable life skills to our athletes!

Athlete Spotlight: Sierra Bigelow

Nov 04, 2015 • Athlete

Athlete Spotlight: Sierra Bigelow

Sierra Bigelow has been involved in Special Olympics Oregon for years and loves competing in athletics(track and field) and bowling. Sierra has grown a tremendous amount since getting involved in Special Olympics and her enthusiasm and positive attitude truly shine.

"How great is it to see someone blossom right in front of your very eyes as the season progresses," says Sierra's coach, Ronni.

Before getting involved with Special Olympics, "my life was real quiet," says Sierra, but now "I like being with other people more and I like having FUN! It makes me feel good. I smile and I laugh a LOT."

Athletics (track and field) has been her biggest accomplishment. "I learned I could do it and I could be a winner... I like working with my team a LOT and I have made good friends." While she enjoys making friends and doing her best, it always feels good when the hard work pays off; Sierra's favorite memory is winning all three medals! When Sierra is not training and competing in Special Olympics, she loves to write and listen to music.

Sierra is a hard working Special Olympics Oregon athlete who lives by a fantastic motto; do your best. We are inspired by her joyful outlook and willingness to never give up.

Subway supports Special Olympics Oregon With Year-round Partnership

Nov 03, 2015 • Subway, Sponsor

This spring, Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) kicked-off a new year-round partnership with Oregon Subway Stores. As a result of this partnership, SOOR and Subway have collaborated on several tremendous activities and will have plans for other activities moving forward. One example is the "You Share, We Share" campaign that ran this past summer. During this time Subway donated a percentage of sales back to Special Olympics Oregon. In total Subway has donated $75,000 that goes directly towards helping the thousands of individuals with intellectual disabilities that benefit from SOOR’s life-changing programs.

As value above and beyond, Subway has generously donated sandwiches to multiple SOOR competitions and events, including our Summer State Games and Nike Youth Games, resulting in over $20,000 of budget relief.

In addition to this incredible new partnership, many local Portland Subway restaurants have been supporting SOOR for many years with donations, discounts and providing lunches for our athletes at various competitions.

Alex Frost, a local Subway manager in Gresham, has been supporting SOOR since 2010. "It's a great cause and it's something I feel good about. My staff can also feel good about it when they make all the sandwiches."

Frost's commitment runs deep. His first experience with Special Olympics stems from when he was in high school. He studied abroad in Italy and his host brother was a Special Olympics athlete. Alex experienced first-hand the impact that Special Olympics had on his host family. When he was approached by SOOR to provide meals for the Winter State Games in 2010, his positive experience and memories surfaced once again.

"My interest goes back to my original experience with my host brother...and when I got to see the Opening Ceremonies it was really touching," said Frost.

We are thankful for the incredible local Subway franchises and the 100’s of Subway employees who support our mission and the thousands of Special Olympics Oregon participants who benefit from their generosity. We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Subway in 2016.

Join us for the Red Robin Tip-A-Cop Saturday,October 24th at a restaurant near you!

Oct 16, 2015 •

Join us for the Red Robin® Tip-A-Cop on Saturday, October 24th from 11am-3pm & 4-8pm to support Special Olympics Oregon! Local law enforcement officers will trade in their handcuffs to spend the day at Red Robin® restaurants serving you! 100% of the tips you donate to the officers will benefit Special Olympics.

Participating locations:

Beaverton: 4105 SW 117th, Ste. F Beaverton, OR

Clackamas: 12530 SE 93rd Street Clackamas, OR

Gresham: 789 N.W. Division St. Gresham, OR

Washington Square: 10100 SW Washington Square Rd. Portland, OR

Hillsboro: 2405 SE Tualatin Hwy. Hillsboro, OR

Sherwood: 21170 Langer Farms Parkway Sherwood, OR

Portland Airport: 10005 N.E. Cascades Parkway, Ste A Portland, OR

Woodburn OPENING SOON!: 3060 Sprague Lane Woodburn, OR

Salem: 3760 Center Street NE Salem, OR

Eugene: 1221 Executive Pkwy. Eugene, OR

Tanasbourne: 2660 NW 188th Avenue Hillsboro, OR

Lloyd Center: 1139 NE Grand Avenue Portland, OR

Wilsonville: 8403 Main St. Wilsonville, OR

Mall 205: 9880 SE Washington Street Portland, OR

Medford: 499 Medford Center Medford, OR

Bend: 625 SW Powerhouse Drive Bend, OR

Albany: 1845 14th Avenue SE, Heritage Mall Albany, OR


Athlete Spotlight: Willie Bennett of Columbia County

Oct 07, 2015 •

Willie Bennett is an all around competitive athlete from Columbia County. Willie has been a part of the Columbia County Local Program for 2 years, and before that was a participant in a different county. He has achieved many awards in basketball, bowling and softball. Willie's personality is one of a kind and he always keeps his coaches on their toes! It took him a while to warm up to his coaches and teammates, but every season he opens up more and becomes a more confident athlete. We admire Willie for his fun personality and dedication to Special Olympics Oregon!

Volunteer Spotlight: Susie Peters of Benton County

Sep 04, 2015 • Volunteer

Pictured above (left to right): Susie Peters with Special Olympics Oregon athlete

Susie Peters, Volunteer Local Program Coordinator for Benton County, has a long and interesting history with SOOR.  Because of her love of volleyball, she started out as a volleyball coach in 1996 and kept increasing her involvement from there.  She also coaches basketball and softball, but says she would coach all of the sports if there were more hours in the day.

Susie was born in Eugene, but has lived in Corvallis most of her life, working for Benton County for 17 years and for the Benton County Developmental Disabilities program for 15 of those years.  When asked about her favorite Special Olympics memory, Susie had a hard time choosing just one, but said, “My best memory would be one of the first times that I met my future husband during the State Summer Games in Corvallis. We both played as unified partners on softball teams from different counties.  It was a fun rivalry which developed into a wonderful friendship and then marriage."

In her spare time, Susie likes spending time with family & friends, going to sporting events and the theater, gardening and traveling with her husband to minor league baseball stadiums around the United States each summer. She added “I especially love my animals and love taking care of and playing with our little dog Sandy...My husband and I also enjoy opening up our home and hosting UO international students from around the world each school term. We try and help them feel at home in their new surroundings while they are thousands of miles away from their own familiar cultures, homes and families.”

Susie’s dedication and commitment run deep. She says, 
“I feel so attached to my athletes and want the program to be the best that it can be in Benton County and to continue to make a positive difference in their lives. The athletes and volunteers are such a huge part of my life, like one big extended family. It would feel so strange not to have them in my life.”

Special Olympics Oregon is so grateful to have Susie Peters as a skilled and dedicated volunteer! She is an inspiration to all of us and we thank her for her passion and dedication.

September Volunteer Spotlight

Sep 04, 2015 •

Pictured Above: Gary with his wife, Cindy, and daughter, Meagan.

For almost 12 years, Gary Paxton served as the volunteer Local Program Coordinator (LPC) for the Clackamas County local program. As the LPC, Gary lead his management team to provide more than 300 athletes throughout the Clackamas County area with quality training opportunities both on and off the field of play. In Gary’s 12 years of service, he felt he had met the expectations and goals he had for the local program for growth and sustainability, and in July of 2015, he stepped down as the LPC.

Gary’s daughter, Meagan, started participating with Special Olympics Oregon as a child, so when the program needed a volunteer to step up to lead the Clackamas County local program, Gary eagerly raised his hand to manage the team. In reflecting on his time with the program, Gary said, “It has been an honor and a privilege to have served as the Clackamas County LPC.” We look forward to seeing him on the sidelines still as he cheers Meagan on during competition.

September Athlete Spotlight

Aug 31, 2015 •

Nicholas Bailey, age 13, has participated in Special Olympics for the last 5 years. He participates in many different sports, but his favorites are swimming and track and field. Nicholas enjoys running track because he loves to run fast! He has also made many life-long friends through Special Olympics.

When Nicholas is not participating in Special Olympics, he enjoys watching television, listening to music and jumping on the trampoline. He also loves animals and has a dog, cat, chickens and ducks of his own.

One of Nicholas's most memorable moments was winning the gold medal for 100 meter run. He is always willing to try new events in track and field, like relays, and puts his all into every event.

Congrats to the Seattle Seahawks Raffle Winner Alex Wills from Beaverton!

Aug 31, 2015 •

Congratulations Alex Wills from Beaverton on winning the Seattle Seahawks Package in this year's LETR Raffle! And a HUGE thank you to all who supported this year's raffle!

August Volunteer Spotlight

Aug 04, 2015 •

Captain Derek McCorkhill and Captain Marsha McCorkhill from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility have been integral players in the Special Olympics Oregon movement for the past eight years. Together they have teamed up to coach numerous sports, including bowling and track, waited on customers in many Tip-a-Cop events, logged countless miles in the Torch Run, and the list goes on!

When their son Tyler, who has autism, graduated high school they began looking for an outlet for him to continue to grow and stay active. Special Olympics Oregon became that outlet. When Tyler wanted to try bowling and there weren’t enough bowling coaches, Marsha and her sister stepped up to coach a team. Since then it has been a family affair with everyone contributing throughout the years to support Special Olympics Oregon.

Both Derek and Marsha have been heavily involved in Special Olympics Oregon's Law Enforcement Torch Run. They coordinate many fundraising events and always participate in the annual Torch Run. Both Derek and Marsha have also participated in the Final Leg at World Games; Marsha ran the Flame of Hope into World Games in South Korea and Derek ran it into World Games this summer in Los Angeles.

When asked what their favorite memory is about Special Olympics, they both agree that handing out medals to athletes is by far the most rewarding experience they have had.

Thank you Derek and Marsha for your love and support of Special Olympics Oregon!

2015 Pride in Performance Awards

Jul 29, 2015 •

Award for Outstanding Athlete

Pictured Left to Right: Rod Foster, Mike Gannon of Les Schwab Tire Centers.

The Pride in Performance Award for Outstanding Athlete went to Rod Foster from High Desert Local Program! Rod is very proud and passionate about Special Olympics and the sports he participates in. During the summer season, Rod participated in bocce. 

He is always there for his team by complementing and encouraging his bocce partner, as well as participants he competes against.

Rod, also known as the "Rodster,"  is always happy and out-going! He is a big fund- raiser for the High Desert Local Program and helps out with many events. He is also very active in his local community and is involved with the Bend Elks baseball team.

Thank you, Rod, for being an inspiration to us all!


Award for Outstanding Volunteer

Picured Left to Right: Sabin Johnson, Jordan Phillips, Mike Gannon of Les Schwab Tire Centers.

This year, the Pride in Performance Award for Outstanding Volunteer went to a dynamic duo Sabin Johnson and Jordan Phillips!

Sabin started volunteering with Special Olympics Utah in 1999 and became a volunteer with Special Olympics Oregon when he moved here in 2005.  Jordan started volunteering for SOOR when he moved to Oregon in 2006.

They  both coach, participate as Unified Partners, serve as part of the Games Organizing Committee for regional and state games year-round, are clinicians for coaches education, help with fundraising events, donate to SOOR, and much more! They give of themselves selflessly, completely and passionately! They always have great attitudes in everything they do and it shows in their smiles and camaraderie!

They truly play an integral part in the success of Special Olympics Oregon sports programs and competitions.

Thank you Sabin and Jordan for being such outstanding volunteers! We appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to Special Olympics Oregon

World Games Update

Jul 29, 2015 •


Congratulations to all of our athletes who are competing at World Games in Los Angeles. 

Alec and Alan Gustafson took home the Bronze Medal in the Bocce Unified Doubles! 

Emily Wilson finished 4th in the 50 meter Freestyle with a time of 0:56.58! 

Way to go guys! We're cheering for you all here in Oregon!

Be sure to visit the dedicated ESPN website for indepth coverage of World Games! 

2015 World Games

May 20, 2015 •

Watch the 2015 World Games on ESPN

ESPN’s global coverage of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, the largest sporting and humanitarian event in 2015, begins this week with live coverage of the Games’ star-studded Opening Ceremony, as well as a Robin Roberts special, a 30 For 30 documentary from ESPN Films and Maria Shriver and a nightly program throughout the Games.

Make plans to tune in to watch the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games LIVE on July 25 at 6 p.m. PT on ESPN, and then keep watching coverage every day during the World Games!

Won't be near a TV on July 25 to watch the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games? No worries! Watch it live on your smart device or tablet on WatchESPN (must be a subscriber to view).

ESPN's coverage from Los Angeles begins with the Opening Ceremony on July 25 and continues daily, throughout the Games. ESPN is the official broadcast partner of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

Click here for viewing schedule. 

June Volunteer Spotlight

May 15, 2015 • Volunteer


Once again, there will be lizards at our regional track meet in Gresham! Specifically, the Red Lizard Running Club. This group of dedicated volunteers is a shining example of a lasting partnership between two organizations who share common interests – sport and community.

Jeff Malmquist,Team Red Lizard President, shared some thoughts on behalf of the hundreds of Red Lizard volunteers who  have helped serve on the Games Organizing Committee (GOC) over the years:

Q: Why does Team Red Lizard volunteer with SOOR?
A: Basically, we like helping people; especially people who run. And that this population of people who run does so in relative obscurity [but instead for the true love of the sport] makes it even sweeter. This is our 13th year helping stage the Regional Special Olympics Track and Field meet at Mt. Hood CC. It's a Lizard tradition and we wouldn't have it any other way!

Q; How does volunteering make your members feel?
A: Oh...I would say it helps put the concept of "success" into better light. It's a nice feeling to see that often running the race and finishing last - indeed, just finishing! - can be more fulfilling than finishing first. In life, the race does not always go to the swiftest and it is nice to see this play out at Special Olympics.

Q: What is your favorite memory or experience volunteering for SOOR? 
A: Every year, for the last 5 or so years, there is one female runner I enjoy watching. She runs the longer distance races. I don't know her name but she always runs at a steady pace. She doesn't speed up when someone passes her or slow down if she gets way behind and discouraged. She has developed a pace that works for her and she sticks to it.  She does this with little fanfare and never draws attention to herself.  Wish that I had the grace to live life this way!


You will find Team Red Lizard at the 2015 Special Olympics Oregon Summer Regional Games track and field competition at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham on Saturday, June 6.  They will be there making sure that a high-quality experience is had by all, just as they have been for the past 13 years! Thank you again to all of our friends at the Red Lizard Running Club!


Seattle Sehawks VS Chicago Bears Raffle tickets ON SALE NOW!

May 15, 2015 • LETR, raffle

Are you a Seahawks fan? Do you want to see them take on the Chicago Bears in their home opener in September? Purchase your Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears Package RAFFLE TICKETS today to be entered for a chance to win!  One grand prize winner will receive 4 tickets (section 139, row F, seats 19-22) to the September 27th game in Seattle, two night stay at the Silver Cloud Hotel for 4 people (September 26-28), and a $500 Amtrak Gift Certificate! Email Ashley Allenby at aallenby@soor.org 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)**

The Unified Relay Across America makes its way through Oregon July 4-7, 2015!

May 11, 2015 • URAA, Relay, Unified

The Unified Relay Across America (URAA) is a once in a lifetime opportunity for America to take action, come together and build communities of respect and inclusion. Over the course of 46 days, in a hand-to-hand exchange, people throughout the nation will carry the Flame of Hope across the country and help deliver it to Los Angeles for the 2015 World Summer Games.

Over four days (July 4-7) Oregonians can help carry the Flame of Hope from the border of Washington to the border of California. We encourage all to participate in this unique experience and help bring awareness to the mission of Special Olympics, all while helping to build respect and inclusion in our communities.

Teams are encouraged to sign up online in groups of 10-15 or as individuals, to run, walk, or roll a .5 mile segment. There is also an opportunity to bike a five mile segment.

Visit www.unifiedrelay.org to register and for more information.

May Athlete Spotlight: Jennifer Glerup of Baker County

May 11, 2015 •

Meet Special Olympics Oregon participant Jennifer Glerup of Baker County. Jennifer is 26 years old and has been participating year-round in Special Olympics for 3 years! She participates in cross country skiing, track & field and aquatics. Jennifer enjoys cross country skiing because she can get up into the mountains and practice with her friends.

Special Olympics has had a positive effect on her in many ways and has changed Jennifer's life for the better. Exercising has become more enjoyable for Jennifer and it has become a daily routine that keeps her healthy and active. Jennifer and her teammates meet at the Baker YMCA to walk on the track and lift weights at least 3 days a week…now that is commitment!

Being involved in Special Olympics has also helped Jennifer live an independent lifestyle. She now lives on her own and maintains her own household, including the most recent addition- a small dog named Jake!

Jennifer has a wonderful personality and a great willingness to share her adventures with others. She has helped the Baker County Local Program grow in a positive way!


How working at Burgerville changed the life of Special Olympics Oregon participant Rachel Parsons

Apr 20, 2015 •

Take a minute to watch a great story from KGW-TV about Special Olympics Oregon athlete Rachel Parsons and how her job at Burgerville has helped her grow.  http://goo.gl/38qBF5

April Athlete and Volunteer of the Month

Apr 03, 2015 • Athlete, Volunteer

Pictured (Left to right): Lyall Arey, Athlete of the Month; Mark and Kristi Smalley, Volunteers of the Month.


April Athlete of the Month: Lyall Arey from the Hermiston/Pendleton Local Program

Lyall is 21 years old and has been participating in Special Olympics since 2010. In the past 5 years Lyall has made some great friendships with his fellow athletes and has had a positive impact on the local program.

He truly enjoys training and competing with his teammates in the 3 B’s of sports…basketball, bocce and bowling. He is especially proud that he and a fellow teammate trained hard and competed well -- taking home a gold medal -- at the bocce regional in Sherwood last year.

Lyall lives with his mom and dad in Hermiston and enjoys spending time with his family.

When Lyall isn’t competing, he enjoys being supportive of the other bocce athletes. His coaches say they are very appreciative of Lyall’s team player spirit and attitude. He exemplifies what it is to be a Special Olympics Oregon athlete in both his actions and camaraderie with others.

It is quite fitting that Lyall is being recognized as the April Athlete of the Month because his birthday is this month too…so Happy Birthday, and Congratulations to Lyall!


April Volunteers of the Month: Kristi and Mark Smalley of the Hermiston/Pendleton Local Program

There are TWO Volunteers of the Month for April… Mark and Kristi Smalley, a husband and wife team, from Hermiston.

Kristi and Mark have been involved with Special Olympics Oregon for over ten years. They originally became involved in Special Olympics Oregon because their daughter, Jillian, began participating as an athlete with the Hermiston/Pendleton local program.

Kristi is fond of saying, she’s just her daughter’s activities director, but she is WAY more than that! Through the years Kristi has held several positions on the local program management team, and is currently the Communications Manager. She is also a long-time head coach with experience in bowling, bocce and basketball. In addition, Kristi plans and coordinates the annual golf tournament and Comedy night fundraiser events for the local program. If that weren’t enough, Kristi is also the local key point of contact for the bowling regional in Hermiston. She assists Special Olympics Oregon staff with the planning, coordination, setup, opening ceremonies, recruiting and training of volunteers, and helps to make sure everything runs smoothly during the event…she is critical to the success of this bowling regional!

Mark works closely with Kristi and is always there to do whatever needs to be done. He is a very respected and knowledgeable year-round coach. In fact, two years ago Mark took the lead on preparing the Hermiston/Pendleton basketball team for their first regional competition. It took a lot of hard work and coordination to make this happen, but Mark did an exceptional job and the teams had an amazing competition experience, thanks to him. Mark also volunteered to start and coach a golf program in Hermiston last year -- another first for their local program. All the golfers did a fantastic job at the regional competition and summer state games and they’ll be back again this year. Mark’s a true leader and role model for the Hermiston/Pendleton program.

Together, Kristi and Mark, are valued and valuable members of the Special Olympics Oregon family and are VERY deserving of being honored as the April Volunteers of the Month!!!



2015 Winter Games Recap

Mar 31, 2015 • Winter, sports, Basketball, Powerlifting, competition


Special Olympics Oregon kicked off 2015 with several Winter Games basketball and powerlifting competitions.  Unfortunately, the Winter Games Snow Sports competition in Bend had to be canceled due to extreme weather conditions at Mt. Bachelor.
In total, more than 1,800 individuals participated in a winter sport this winter season.  Congratulations to all of these athletes and unified partners, and thank you to all of the coaches, volunteers, sponsors and supporters!

Winter Games highlights:

March 8 – Venues in Beaverton and Hillsboro hosted 40 basketball teams and 50 basketball skills athletes at Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District Athletic Center, Meadow Park Middle School and Liberty High School.

March 15 – The communities of Stayton and Turner hosted the Project Unify Middle School & High School Unified Sports® basketball tournament which had 37  teams compete at Cascade Junior and Senior High School, Turner Elementary and Stayton High School.  This was the first time Special Olympics Oregon has held a stand-alone school based basketball tournament.  We expect to see continued growth with more than 50 unified teams participating at this tournament in 2016!

March 21 - Oregon State University and Corvallis High School served as venues for 67 teams and 80 skills athletes playing basketball and 65 athletes participating in powerlifting.  This was the first year for Special Olympics Oregon to have Winter Games events on the Oregon State University campus. The venues were amazing and our athletes were thrilled to be playing there. 

Nearly 200 hard working athletes trained in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing during the season but were unable to compete on March 14-15 due to weather cancelation of Winter Games Snow Sports at Mt. Bachelor.

Summer season training starts soon with regional competitions in athletics (track & field), bocce, golf and softball taking place around Oregon throughout the month of June, with Summer State Games in Newberg on July 11-12, 2015.

Claim Jumper Tip-A-Cop!

Mar 30, 2015 • TAC, LETR

Join us for our "Tip-A-Cop" fundraiser on April 9, 2015 from 5 PM to 9 PM at select Claim Jumper restaurants! All tips provided to the officers serving your meals will benefit Special Olympics.

March Athlete and Volunteer of the Month!

Mar 12, 2015 • Athlete, Volunteer

        Athlete of the Month: Brian McKrola of Grant County            Volunteer of the Month: Jeff Porter

March Athlete of the Month

Brian McKrola has been participating in Special Olympics Oregon for over 20 years. Throughout the years, Brian has trained and competed in bowling, basketball, athletics, aquatics and skiing. He enjoys attending practices and spending time with his teammates. He always encourages and supports his team and other athletes. Brian also loves competing, as well as the travel and camaraderie that go along with these events.

When Brian is not at Special Olympics, he has several jobs in his local town of John Day. He works at SueZQ’s Thriftstore, JD Rents Power and Equipment, and Nugget Lanes. He has an amazing work ethic and always does his very best!

Although his work and practice schedule keep him busy, in his free time Brian likes to watch movies and spend time with family and friends. He is truly a people person and gets along with everyone. He also enjoys attending and participating in community events throughout the year.

Two of Brian’s favorite things in the whole world are superheros…and Special Olympics! Brian makes a positive difference on his sports teams and within his community. Let’s congratulate Brian on being selected as the March Athlete of the Month!


March Volunteer of the Month

Jeff Porter has been involved with Special Olympics Oregon for more than a decade and has worn many hats.  However, many recognize Jeff by his favorite red hat which he likes to wear to events so that people can pick him out of the crowd. 

He has become a fixture on many Games Organizing Committees - serving in management roles at basketball, bocce, soccer and bowling competitions.   During his time with SOOR, Jeff has volunteered at least once in nearly every sport we offer.  He is a proven, dependable leader that staff, volunteers, coaches and athletes have come to trust and admire.   

When asked what he likes most about Special Olympics Oregon, Jeff explains, “There are a lot of great things, but above all the sportsmanship that the athletes exhibit is amazing.  No matter how intense the competition gets, the respect and support that the athletes show on and off the field is truly inspirational!”

Thank you, Jeff, for all that you do for Special Olympics Oregon!



2015 Global Business Awards Luncheon

Mar 09, 2015 •

The 2015 Global Business Awards Luncheon benefiting Special Olympics Oregon
will take place Thursday, April 2, 2015. Please Join us as we recognize Oregon's outstanding
individuals in business and honor the legacy of past Oregon civic and business leaders.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lunch and Awards Ceremony
12:00 - 1:30 PM

Hilton Portland and Executive Tower- Pavilion Room
921 SW Sixth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

Tickets on sale now!
Table(s) of 10 seats $1,200 per table ($950 tax deductible per table)
Individual seats $75 per ticket ($50 tax deductible per seat)

To RSVP or for questions, please contact Serge D'Rovencourt or Paula Cheek.

Via email: sergedr@earthlink.net or pcheek@soor.org

By phone: 503.224.4193 (Serge) or 503.248.0600 ext. 29 (Paula)

***Please RSVP by March 20th

The Passing of a True Friend

Feb 17, 2015 •


Special Olympics Oregon was incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of a true friend to our organization -- Trail Blazers great Jerome Kersey. Jerome was a great supporter of Special Olympics Oregon, served on our Honorary Board of Directors and recently spoke at our Summer State Games in Newberg.

He will be missed.

February Athlete & Volunteer of the Month!

Feb 02, 2015 •

Athlete of the Month: Wayne Nance of Jefferson County

Wayne, now 58 years old, has participated in Special Olympics for many years and has a youthful spirit!  Wayne loves to participate in basketball and bowling.

Wayne is currently in an assisted living home where he loves the interaction with other residents and guests; especially the family dinner parties!

In his free time, Wayne enjoys listening to the radio and the fine art of doing jigsaw puzzles. Wayne also loves the winter holiday season.

Prior to living in Madras, Wayne lived in Portland. He has pride in being the one who helped his team navigate their way around Portland during the recent Fall State Games. The whole delegation was impressed with Wayne’s leadership, as well as his ability to remember the city streets so well!

Wayne truly deserves this Athlete of the Month honor and recognition. He always does his very best, and supports his teammates and other athletes. Wayne values and appreciates the friendships he has built with other athletes from around the state, which is just one of reasons why Wayne loves participating in Special Olympics Oregon!

Volunteer of the Month: Sgt. Joel Goodwin of the Corvallis Police Department

Sgt. Joel Goodwin of the Corvallis Police Department has been a part of Oregon’s Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for 18 years and is the current Chair of the Executive Council for LETR. He has participated in events such as Tip-a-Cop, Torch Run, and has been instrumental in bringing the Polar Plunge to the Corvallis Community.

In Corvallis, LETR offers support for people with intellectual disabilities, both through fundraising and awareness raising events.  Events like Polar Plunge, Tip-a-Cop, and the Torch Run bring people together for these common goals to ensure a sense of inclusion in the community.

When asked about his most memorable LETR moment, Joel described his feeling in 2011 when he was presenting the Ken Davis Unsung Hero Award to Chief Rock Rakosi at Summer State Games:

“When I stepped up to the podium the crowd provided the obligatory clapping, but the Special Olympics Oregon athletes from Benton County (who happened to be right up front) went wild with appreciation, shouting and clapping like I was a rock star. I couldn’t ask for a better confirmation that I, as part of LETR, had made a difference in their lives.  Every mile I have run in the Torch Run, every water glass I’ve refilled at a Tip-a-Cop, every breathless dip in a Polar Plunge, every medal I’ve hung around an athlete’s neck… every moment with every athlete has been worth it!”

Thank you Joel for supporting Oregon’s Law Enforcement Torch Run!


Special Olympics Oregon participant, Henry Meece, earns Gold at the Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding competition at the 2015 X Games!

Jan 19, 2015 •

Special Olympics Oregon Multnomah County Snowboarder, Henry Meece, was one of 10 athletes from the USA selected to compete in Special Olympics Unified Sports Snowboarding Races at the 2015 Winter X Games  in Aspen, Colorado! Henry and his unified partner, Kris Klug (2002 Olympic Games bronze medal snowboarder), earned the Gold Medal! Check out ESPN coverage of the finals.

Burgers and Fries Never Tasted So Good!

Jan 19, 2015 •

Like winning prizes AND helping a good cause?!

Come down to your local Burgerville on January 24th and 25th to register for the Polar Plunge and win PRIZES. See below for a list of participating locations and times. Also, 10% of their proceeds from noon-6pm will be donated to Special Olympics Oregon.

So head on down to your nearest Burgerville and enjoy some fabulous local eats to support Special Olympics Oregon and the 2015 Polar Plunge! And don’t forget to declare your allegiance in the Beavs vs. Ducks Challenge when you sign up for the Plunge.

Not enough incentive to make the trip? Then here are three words that might inspire you: CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT SHAKE!

Burgerville Eastside Restaurants
Saturday, January 24th, 2015
Noon to 6 pm

1. 82nd & Glisan
2. 122nd & Stark (429 SE 122nd Ave)
3. Gresham (2975 NE Hogan Dr.)
4. Parkrose (4229 NE 122nd Ave)
5. 162nd & Division (16211 SE Division St)
6. 92nd & Powell (3504 SE 92nd Ave)

Burgerville Westside Restaurants
Sunday, January 25th, 2015
Noon to 6 pm

1. Canyon Rd/Beaverton (11900 SW Canyon Rd)
2. Newberg (2514 Portland Rd)
3. Cornell Square (2401 NE Cornell Rd, Hillsboro)
4. Sunset Square (1245 NW 185th Ave, Aloha)
5. Scholls & Allen (9385 SW Allen Blvd, Beaverton)
6. Carman Drive (15650 SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd, Lake Oswego)
7. Tigard (12785 SW Pacific Hwy, Tigard)

November Athlete and Volunteer of the Month

Nov 03, 2014 •


November Athlete of the Month: Art Pease of Milton-Freewater/Athena/Weston Local Program in Northeastern Oregon.

Art has been involved in Special Olympics since 1978…that’s 36 years of training and competing. Art was 11 years old when he first started.

He participates year-round, and has participated in all the sports offered by his local Program, which have included: athletics, bowling, skiing, basketball, softball, cycling, aquatics, and equestrian. Art will tell you his favorite sport is track. He is a distance runner and runs with extraordinary endurance and determination.

His most memorable moments are when he was selected to go to the World Games in 1995 in Connecticut, where he competed in the Unified 5,000 meter (2nd place finish) and the marathon (4th place finish). He was selected again for World Games in 1999 held in Raleigh, N.C. where he won a gold medal in the 10,000 meter run, and a silver medal in the marathon. Art just finished the Walla Walla half marathon on October 5th. He is always a very humble person and doesn’t like to brag about his accomplishments.

Art has 5 brothers and one sister. He works for Horizon Project, Inc. He is married to Jennifer, another athlete in their Local Program and they have their own home that they take care of. Art’s sister helps them with managing their finances and his brothers assist him when he works on big projects like car repairs or home improvements; it is a family and team effort.

His hobbies include hunting and fishing with his brothers. He also enjoys travel, but his family will tell you he is very frugal. He has a big heart and generously shares with others.

When Art was asked how Special Olympics changed his life he replied, “I have lots of friends all over Oregon and Southeastern Washington”. Regional and State Games are a time when he gets to socialize with friends and athletes he only sees at the competitions. One of his coaches shared that Special Olympics IS Art’s life. Like many athletes, his life revolves around training and competition during each season.

Art is deserving of this honor and recognition because he works hard not just during competition seasons, but all year long. He is someone the younger athletes look up to, and he willingly assists them when they are struggling with a task or skill, especially during the track workouts. After work and on weekends he drives all over town and out in the country to pick up donated cans and bottles for their recycling program. He never complains and always has on a smile. He is an exceptional athlete and model community member in Milton-Freewater.


November Volunteer of the Month: Sarah McKellar of Linn County

This month we celebrate Sarah McKellar, from the Linn County Local Program, as the November Volunteer of the Month!

Sarah, and her twin sons, Chris and Nick, started participating in Special Olympics with Linn County in 2003. Within the first year, she went from being a parent of 2 athletes, to assisting with local program fundraisers, attending coach certification training, and eventually became a head coach.

In 2004 Sarah became the Sports Manager for Linn County until 2006 while continuing her role as head coach. She has coached basketball, athletics, softball and bowling. Sarah has continued to be a key volunteer with the local program by attending the management team meetings and assisting with numerous projects and fundraisers. In addition, she has participated in some SOOR level events such as; The Bite of Oregon, Law Enforcement Torch Run, and the Red Robin Tip-A-Cop fundraiser.

Sarah has truly made Special Olympics Oregon a family affair. In 2005, her daughter, Katie, became an Approved Class A volunteer and began coaching as well.

In 2011 the Linn County Local Program was going through a transition. Once again Sarah stepped up when her skills and experience were needed, and she volunteered to become the local program Medical Manager.

Sarah, her athlete twins, and daughter completed Global Messenger training in October 2012. Last year they were also selected to speak at a SOOR fundraiser event at the Langdon Farms Golf Course. They all did a great job!

When Sarah isn’t volunteering for Special Olympics Oregon, she’s busy managing her Pampered Chef business and enjoys hiking, backpacking and camping.

When asked, ‘What are some of your favorite Special Olympic moments?’ she didn’t hesitate before saying, “Seeing the athletes cheer and encourage each other to do their best. And it’s all the special memories and people I have met over the years…I have developed lifelong friendships…Special Olympics is like a big family!”  Sarah is extremely proud of her son Nick for participating in the torch run in 2006 and getting to run the flame onto the field during the Summer State Games, and her son Chris for being selected to compete in bowling at the 2006 National Games in Iowa.

This well deserved tribute to Sarah and recognition of her immense dedication, commitment, enthusiasm, and passion for Special Olympics Oregon is bittersweet. At the end of the Fall season she will be will be leaving the Linn County Local Program to move to Vancouver to be closer to her family. She, Sarah and family will surely be missed. From all of us at Special Olympics Oregon, we wish Sarah and her family the best of luck, and thank her for making a positive difference in the lives of many Special Olympics Oregon athletes and volunteers.




October Volunteer and Athlete of the Month!

Sep 30, 2014 •

October Athlete of the Month: Linda Anderson from Harney County

Linda has participated in Special Olympics Oregon for over 20 years. During that time she has competed in basketball, bowling, and her favorite sport— athletics, where she excels at walking events and the softball throw. Linda’s coaches admire her willingness to learn, and desire to work hard and improve. She frequently trains and practices during her free time.

Participating in Special Olympics has helped Linda become responsible and independent. She   lives on her own, but loves to visit with friends and participate in many of the local community events and activities. In her spare time she enjoys fishing and staying fit.

Some of Linda’s most endearing qualities are her positive spirit, optimistic outlook, thoughtfulness, and consideration for others. Linda is an exemplary team player. She always supports and cheers for her teammates to help them succeed, making her a true champion for Special Olympics Oregon and Harney County!

October Volunteer of the Month: Rodney Tate

Rodney Tate has been on the fast track to being a super volunteer with Special Olympics Oregon. In 2012, Rodney worked for Nike and volunteered for Youth Games that Fall. He vowed then and there that if ever given the opportunity to get involved with Special Olympics again, he would. That opportunity presented itself in January 2014. He started off slowly, by serving as a day-of-event volunteer for Winter State Games for snow sports in Bend, but it didn’t take long for him to pick-up speed. Rodney now serves as the Volunteer Outreach Manager for Multnomah County; in this role, he welcomes new volunteers into the program with enthusiasm and professionalism. He also serves as the Metro Area Competition Director for three local competitions that are hosted each year by managing all of the moving pieces related to the event logistics and coordination. Finally, he has served as a day-of-event volunteer at a number of other regional and state competitions, and fundraisers.

Additionally, Rodney serves as the Coordinator for the Black Student Union at Benson High School in Portland. In this role, he actively works with his motivated and enthusiastic students to make Special Olympics Oregon their community volunteer focus. The goal is to provide the high school students with valuable volunteer opportunities throughout the year that provides them with ways to give back to their greater community and Special Olympics Oregon. We look forward to watching that partnership grow!

Rodney is moving and shaking in big ways to demonstrate his love, enthusiasm and passion for all that Special Olympics Oregon does.

Join our Fans in the Stands for Fall State Games

Sep 29, 2014 • sports, Special Olympics, Fall Games, soccer, aquatics, volleyball

What: Fall State Games Ceremony
When: Saturday, November 15, 2014 @ 7 pm
Where: Providence Park (Home of the Portland Timbers)
Who:  You, your friends and family!
Cost: FREE

We are thrilled for the return of the Special Olympics Oregon Fall State Games this year, presented by Providence Health & Services! These events are the state championships for aquatics, soccer and volleyball.  Special Olympics participants from all over Oregon train for a minimum of 8 weeks in their hometowns, competing at the local and regional level for the opportunity to advance to the State Games.

LETR Raffle Winner

Sep 16, 2014 •


Winner of the 2014 Seattle Seahawks Package is.....ticket #1631, Pat Donnelly!
Pat will enjoy 4 tickets to the November 9th game of Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants, $500 Amtrak gift certificate, and 2 rooms for 2 nights at the Hilton Seattle.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the raffle and made it such a great success!

September Volunteer & Athlete of the Month

Sep 05, 2014 • Volunteer, Athlete

Pictured:  Becky Venice of Cottage Grove; Remy Spangler of Union County

Athlete of the Month: Remy Spangler, Union County

22 year old Remy Spangler, a Special Olympics Oregon participant with the Union County local program, has been involved in Special Olympics for 10 years.

During this time, Remy has participated in aquatics, athletics, golf, and his favorite sport to train and compete in, cross country skiing.

In his spare time, Remy enjoys traveling, camping with his friends and family, and works as a custodian in the La Grande School District.

Special Olympics has changed Remy's life in many ways. His coaches have noticed he is more outgoing, has developed physically and emotionally, and he has gained more confidence in himself.

His mom Ellie, a Special Olympics Oregon coach and volunteer, said that Remy was very quiet and introverted, but that he has grown into an engaging and friendly young man who shows great sportsmanship, is supportive of his teammates, and is more independent.


Volunteer of the Month: Becky Venice, Cottage Grove

For the past 35 years, Becky Venice, Cottage Grove Local Program Coordinator, has dedicated her life to developing the Special Olympics program in Cottage Grove.

Becky grew up in Peru, Indiana, and she and her husband Robert met there and came to Cottage Grove in 1964. Her involvement in Special Olympics began when their daughter, Monica, was born in 1965 with Down’s syndrome.

In 1973, Monica began taking part in Special Olympics at school in Eugene, but when the schools dropped the program, Becky decided she needed to organize their own program in Cottage Grove with only 8- 10 participants at the time. She knew the impact that athletics had on the intellectually disabled, and as a school bus driver she was able to communicate this to the families as well. Since then the program has grown, and Cottage Grove- Creswell currently has about 40 athletes who participate throughout the year.

Through the inspiration of Monica and seeing how much Special Olympics has meant to her over the years, Becky has been a valuable coach, motivator, and mentor as she continues giving her heart to the athletes and coaches in Cottage Grove.

Becky was selected back in April as the community contributor inductee for the 2014 Cottage Grove High School Hall of Fame, accompanied by a wonderful article about her involvement with Special Olympics.

Read the full article from the Cottage Grove Sentinal.

SOOR Unified Timbers took part in this year's Cascadia Challenge as part of the Timbers vs. Sounders Rivalry Weekend

Sep 03, 2014 • soccer, unified sports, Seattle Sounders FC, Portland Timbers

Special Olympics Oregon Timbers Unified soccer team from Woodburn High School, with guest player – SOOR athlete Levi Arthur.

On August 23, 2014, Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) Timbers Unified Soccer team from Woodburn High School competed in the 2nd leg of the Cascadia Challenge, held at the adidas Village. They competed against the Special Olympics Washington (SOWA) Sounders, with the SOOR Timbers taking the win 6-1!

The event was part of the Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders FC rivalry weekend. Both Special Olympics unified teams were comprised of individuals with intellectual disabilities playing alongside teammates without intellectual disabilities.

The next day, both teams participated in a pre-game exhibition match, with the SOOR team winning 3-2, at the Timbers vs. Sounders game at Providence Park where they received tons of support and motivation from Timbers Army.

For many of the Woodburn High School partners and athletes, this was their first experience attending a Timbers game, let alone playing on the Timbers field and meeting the players! This was an incredible experience that they are sure to remember.

Visit the Project Unify website for more information about SOOR Unified Sports.

Enter for your chance to win a Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants Givaway!

Sep 02, 2014 • raffle, football, Seattle Seahawks

Football season has officially started, and what better way to kick off the season than to enter the Law Enforcement Torch Run raffle for your chance to win a trip for 4 to the Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants game on November 9, 2014!

Tickets $10/each

Package includes:

4 tickets to the Seahawks vs. Giants game on November 9, 2014

$500 Amtrak gift certificate

2 night stay at the Hilton Seattle for 4 people (November 8-10, 2014)


* Odds are 1 in 2,500 to win!

*Drawing will be held September 15th

* All proceeds benefit Special Olympics Oregon

Contact Kate Flowers at kflowers@soor.org or (503) 248-0600 to purchase your ticket.




Safeway People With Disabilities Campaign

Aug 01, 2014 •

We are pleased to share with you, that for the seventh consecutive year, Special Olympics has again been invited to be one of three beneficiaries of Safeway's Annual People with Disabilities Campaign.
The promotion will run the entire month of August and Safeway shoppers will have the opportunity to choose Special Olympics at checkout. 

Safeway will donate 100% of the funds designated for Special Olympics to the Movement. 

Be a champion of acceptance in your community! From August 1 - August 31, Safeway stores nationwide will be asking consumers to donate at checkout to support people with disabilities, like employee athlete Ronny Jones. Choose Special Olympics. Together we can make a difference!
For decades, Safeway has supported regional and national programs that assist people with disabilities. Each year, Safeway dedicates an entire month to raise these critical funds through donations made at checkout by their customers. Over the past six years, Safeway's campaign has raised more than $11.5 million for Special Olympics.  

August Volunteer & Athlete of the Month

Aug 01, 2014 •



Volunteer of the Month: 

In the 1980’s Dixon Andrews, who at the time worked for Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, began running in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. He participated in that event for many years. In 2004, he dove into Special Olympics Oregon and Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR). While Dixon was with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, he participated in many events for LETR, including Tip-A-Cop, Cops on Donut Shops, and the LETR Torch Run.

In 201, Dixon retired from Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and became the Police Chief in Gold Beach. He continues to be very involved in LETR by handing out medals at Special Olympics Oregon competitions, coordinating the South Coast leg of the Torch Run, helping at the Eugene Tip-A-Cop, and sitting on the LETR Executive Council.

His involvement doesn’t stop with LETR events; Dixon also spends almost every weekend coaching Special Olympics Oregon athletes in Curry County. He just completed his third year as the track & field coach and also coaches basketball and bowling. Being involved in Special Olympics has now become a family affair for Dixon as his daughter, Megan, began participating in Special Olympics Oregon this past year.

When asked about his involvement with LETR and Special Olympics Oregon, Dixon said, “What an honor it has been for me to award medals at games and it is completely true that when you volunteer for the right reasons you get far more back in return. The athletes I coach in Curry County are incredible.  I learn so much from them about courage, passion, and especially about sportsmanship.”

Thanks Dixon for all of the ways you support Special Olympics Oregon and Law Enforcement Torch Run!


Athlete of the Month: 

Amber Miller, a Special Olympics Oregon participant from the High Desert Local Program, has been involved in Special Olympics for about 8 years.  She lives in Central Oregon with her parents, Tracie and Ralph, who are both coaches and volunteers with Special Olympics as well.

Over the years, Amber has participated in basketball, golf, and bowling—bowling being her favorite. In her spare time she loves reading, volunteering at her church, and working at the Opportunity Foundation since 2008. She also enjoys travelling, especially to the Oregon State Fair and Michigan.

“All the coaches agree that Amber is a joy to be around, she loves doing her best and we rarely see a more positive attitude in any walk of life. She loves life and she loves to participate,” said Tracie. Amber is always at practice with a smile on her face. She always shows great sportsmanship and attention to her sport and teammates.

Special Olympics Oregon has been a huge part of Amber’s life and helped provide opportunities for growth and development in all aspects of life. 

In Memory of Governor Victor Atiyeh

Jul 23, 2014 •


Governor Atiyeh spent many years as an elected official, serving in the Oregon Legislature and from 1979-1987 as Oregon’s Governor. But he was never a “politician” – the term simply did not fit him. For the years – and many that followed – during which he served our state, he was so much more.   Governor Atiyeh was the epitome of statesmanship, a characteristic that we know from his public service, but that, in truth, permeated every aspect of his life. He didn’t just support the Boy Scouts organization, he lived like one.  He didn’t just build a successful retail business, he did so with immutable integrity.  He didn’t just belong to his family as son, brother, father and husband, he selflessly led and loved them – they have always been first.  He didn’t just serve the “State of Oregon;” it was its individual citizens he worried over – it was always about the one.  The articles now appearing about him speak of his kindness – but Victor Atiyeh wasn’t just a “nice man;” that kindness was rooted in his deep respect for the worth of his fellow human beings.  He believed in the best in us. He fought for us all in ways many will never know.  We join with so many others who will miss him very much…and for a very long time.

2014 Law Enforcement Torch Run

Jul 07, 2014 •


Starting today, Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) will continue one of the year’s most engaging community initiatives—the Law Enforcement Torch Run. From Brookings to Troutdale and everywhere in between, Oregon’s finest law enforcement agencies will relay the Special Olympics torch on its route to Special Olympics Oregon’s annual Summer State Games on July 12th and 13th. 

A tradition that dates back to 1981, the Law Enforcement Torch Run was conceived by Wichtia, Kansas Police Chief Richard LaMunyon and his desire to raise greater awareness for Special Olympics. Since then, the Torch Run has evolved into a nation-wide effort that not only raises funds for Special Olympics athletes, but also reinforces the importance of athletics and competition.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run would not be possible without the tremendous support of Oregon’s law enforcement officials and engaged community members.   The funds raised through both of their efforts ensure that SOOR’s athletes can continue to train for and participate in the sports that they love.
This year’s torch run will include four separate legs, which will all converge at Newberg High School July 12th. 

The legs are as follows:
Brookings to Reedsport—135 miles
Redmond to Bend—20 miles
Troutdale to Newberg—60 miles
Ashland to Newberg—270 miles

Check out the map of all the participating relay legs, and then show your support by cheering on these selfless relay participants! 

Is New Jersey ready for Team Oregon?

Jun 03, 2014 •

The Team Oregon Delegation was selected from across Oregon to participate in the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey. Athletes from Team Oregon will join over 3,500 athletes from all over the country for a week of competition and events, featuring a total of 16 sports on a national stage with over 70,000 spectators!

Over 19 athletes, nine coaches, six unified partners, one caddie volunteer and three Special Olympics Oregon staff will be heading to New Jersey on June 14th where they will begin competition and taking part in a number of exciting events, including New Jersey Welcome Day, Opening Ceremony in Newark at the Prudential Center, a dinner cruise of the Manhattan harbor, Sports Showcases and the Closing Ceremony in Trenton at the Sun National Bank Center. 

This is not only an exciting event for Team Oregon athletes to get to participate in, but a chance to experience new adventures such as travelling and meeting people from all over the country.

When we asked Unified Basketball Athlete Alexandra Hoppe what she was most looking forward to she said, “I can’t wait to fly on an airplane for the first time to New Jersey. I’m also very excited to spend time with my team.”

Aaron Cunningham, a Team Oregon power lifting athlete said that he is “looking forward to the adventure and seeing all the other athletes who have trained just as hard.”

Special Olympics Oregon athlete Kyle Gates and Unified Partner Joel Shuster will also be travelling with the Team Oregon delegation to USA Games to represent Bend High School and Special Olympics Oregon as youth leaders at the Special Olympics National Youth Summit.

Over 100 student leaders from across the United States will participate in the week-long Summit that will focus on how sports can be a platform for a social justice movement and an opportunity to advance an effective campaign for change in schools and communities. 

Be sure to show your support for the entire Team Oregon Delegation by following, sharing and liking their progress on Special Olympics Oregon’s social media sites throughout their adventure in New Jersey: Facebook/SOORstate, Twitter/SOORstate and Instagram/specialolympicsoregon.

Celebrating the life of SOOR Athlete Tony Swan

Jun 03, 2014 •

Anthony “Tony” Swan, born in 1954, was placed into foster care with the Swan family at only two weeks of age. Tony was then adopted by a different family shortly after. During this time, Tony suffered a serious brain injury resulting in brain damage, blindness and the inability to walk. After this traumatic incident, Tony was returned to the Swan family where he became the loving brother and son they all knew and loved.

After re-learning to walk, Tony began participating in several Special Olympics events: bowling, power lifting, and track & field. Throughout his life, Tony earned over 252 medals and competed in two World Games Competitions – the 1991 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China. Tony and his doubles-bowling partner had the distinct pleasure of having their gold medals presented to them from Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Special Olympics Oregon had a huge impact on Tony’s life, helping him to overcome challenges and learn “training for life.” He attended high school, lived independently, and worked later in his life. Tony was active in Special Olympics until he passed away at the age of 59 in September, 2013.

Tony’s siblings recently provided Special Olympics Oregon with a generous gift in Tony’s name, along with over 200 of the medals that Tony had earned throughout his Special Olympics career. Tony’s medals will be donated to a local organization which leads missionary trips to Africa. There the group will be working with a special needs school in rural Kenya, which will include a sports day. This will be a Special Olympics recognized event through Special Olympics Kenya.  

Tony is a wonderful example of how determination and a love for sports and life can impact the lives of so many. We hope to continue changing the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Oregon every day by sharing the inspirational stories from athletes like Tony.

June Volunteer & Athlete of the Month

Jun 03, 2014 •

Volunteer of the Month

Cecilia and Tracy Rutledge have volunteered for Special Olympics Oregon for many years and family is a driving force for their continued service.

Each summer, Cecilia directs the awards area at the regional games athletics competition in Milton-Freewater while her husband Tracy serves as part of the on-site medical support team.  They also both travel across the state to help with the track awards venue at the Summer State Games in Newberg.

Cecilia’s involvement as a volunteer came early. It was something that was simply part of family life. Cecilia said, “With dad, you just got volunteered and we’ve been doing it ever since because we enjoy it! It’s fun!”

Cecilia’s parents Charlie and Virginia Pease were instrumental in the development of the Special Olympics program in the Milton-Freewater area (located just south of the Washington border near Walla Walla). Though Charlie passed away several years ago, his legacy remains strong through the numerous family members who are still very involved. Virginia still staffs the volunteer check-in table while many of her children (and their spouses and grandchildren and even great grandchildren) volunteer at the track meet. 

The true inspiration for them all is Cecilia’s brother Art and his wife Jennifer – both of whom are Special Olympics Oregon athletes who have now competed for almost 30 years.

Cecilia and Tracy are shining examples of the power of the Special Olympics Movement and how it can impact an entire family – for many generations. This year they plan to bring their granddaughter, Ali, to help at her first Summer State Games.

Athlete of the Month

Megan Greer, our athlete for the month, is a positive self starter who enjoys life and is always eager to try new activities. At 36 she participates in track & field, bowling and basketball. She is interested also interested in trying other sports as well (i.e. wimming and golf). 

Megan lives with her parents and her animals in Brookings and has been a resident of Oregon for over 10 years. She has 2 dogs, Cookie and Sophie, and a cat nammed Hanna. She also has two sisters, Kimberly and Ryan, and a brother James who live in California.

She has participated in Special Olympics Oregon, Curry County for over three years. I am proud of how Megan takes responsibility for getting herself up and to practice on time. She says she is careful to set her alarm early to give herself plenty of time to get to the track. She uses a taxi to get herself where she needs to go. Megan is very proud of her accomplishments as an athlete with Special Olympics Oregon.                                      

Megan works part time four days a week on a sanitation crew with Mentor Oregon. There she is able to earn a paycheck by cleaning public buildings in Brookings and Gold Beach.

During her free time, Megan enjoys spending time at the beach watching for whales and enjoys creating art. She was also eager to show me pictures of her sitting proudly on top of an antique tractor in the Azalea parade this weekend.

She is very excited about the upcoming regionals and will be participating in Track and Field events on June 8th in Grants Pass.

May Volunteer & Athlete of the Month

May 07, 2014 •


Jill Hertel is a Special Education teacher with Forest Grove School district. She has been involved with SOOR’s Project UNIFY programs since the beginning Jill spends endless hours leading Project UNIFY activities and motivating students to be leaders. She has coordinated Respect campaigns at the elementary schools, middle schools and the high school in Forest Grove. She has also organized Unified Sports teams in basketball, soccer and softball. In addition, Jill organizes invitational tournaments for middle school and high school Unified teams to compete. This year, 20 teams and approximately 30 coaches participated in the basketball invitational that she organized.

Jill’s passion for Project UNIFY activities goes beyond the field and the gym. Jill helped to organize the Forest Grove Polar Plunge team for the past three years. She also worked to get John Anderberg, Theater Director at Forest Grove High School to develop a Project UNIFY Theatre program. The Project UNIFY Theatre program, which began two years ago, encompasses student actors with and without disabilities as a way to combat discrimination against special-needs students and to educate and spread awareness around bullying and other issues that students face today in school.

Special Olympics Oregon is so privileged to have a volunteer and an advocate as dedicated and committed as Jill. She is an incredible mentor, role model, teacher, coach and an inspiration to us all!


Harry Castro, though 68 years of age, is still young at heart and spirit and is currently the longest participating athlete in Special Olympics Oregon, Klamath County. He is a three sport athlete starting with 3 on 3 basketball in the winter, traditional softball in the summer and concluding with bowling in the fall. He has been kept this pace up for over 30 years!

His life away from SOOR centers on his fiancé, Marion, their dog Beezley, and their two cats. Prior to his retirement, Harry worked for REACH of Klamath Falls. Harry is all that SOOR is about by being a dedicated athlete, showing great sportsmanship, and being a wonderful person to all he encounters. Coaches, athletes and fans are all proud to have Harry Castro as part of the Klamath County team. He has no plans to retire from SOOR just yet and we hope he plays for many years to come.


April Volunteer & Athlete of the Month

Apr 11, 2014 •


When we think of Sha Fenton many words spring to mind:  caring, reliable, organized, versatile, creative, integrity! 

Sha has been a volunteer for Special Olympics Oregon since 1990!  She has coached a variety of sports for about 15 years, served as the Local Program Coordinator for several years and for the last 6 years she’s been a member of the Games Organizing Committee (GOC) volunteering in a key role for our regional and state competitions. Sha has worked full-time through all this and during much of the time she was also taking college-level courses pursuing her bachelor’s degree which she just received.

We couldn’t imagine doing what we do without her help, support and passion!


Bill Everest is 76 and legally blind but is dedicated to sports. He practices just as hard as the younger group and competes very well. He is always positive and encouraging to others. Bill is so grateful to be a part of the program and he lets it be known. You can hear it in his words and see it in his smile! You can feel it in his heart! He is truly an inspiration to all!!

Winter Games Pride in Performance Award Winners

Mar 20, 2014 •

Jimmy Parent of Washington County

Jimmy has a smile that goes on for days. It comes out readily as he encourages and cheers his friends on as they compete together.

He has participated with Special Olympics Oregon for more than 20 years. In addition to cross-country skiing, Jimmy has participated in aquatics, basketball, softball, volleyball, bowling and athletics. Altogether, Jimmy has received over 160 medals during his time competing in Special Olympics Oregon.

Currently, he works at Starbucks and enjoys seeing the regular customers on a daily basis. His sense of humor and kindness is appreciated by all and he is always looking for an opportunity to joke around with customers, fellow athletes and coaches.

Shelly Spence of Clackamas County

Shelly has been volunteering for seven years with the Clackamas County Local Program. She is the head coach for the cross county and snowshoe teams and is instrumental in coordinating the snow sports programs for the entire Portland metro area. 

At the beginning of each season, Shelly personally calls each athlete who has been in the program during the past season to invite and encourage them to participate in the new season.

She brings to the program a high level of energy/enthusiasm, solid organizational skills, and consistency for the athletes and coaches she works with. She makes practices and competitions fun and the athletes learn from her example and carry this attitude into their daily lives. She encourages them to always give their best effort, strive to improve and enjoy what they do.



March's Volunteer & Athlete of the Month

Mar 12, 2014 •


Rhett Ybarra first got involved with Special Olympics Oregon four years ago while attending Thurston High School in Springfield.  As a member of Thurston’s Leadership class, Rhett attended the Oregon Association of Student Council’s annual conference where he learned about Special Olympics Oregon’s school-based activities and was determined to get his school involved.  Rhett spearheaded Thurston High School’s first Polar Plunge team and carried on the tradition as team captain until he graduated.  He also organized several R-Word Campaigns and activities to educate his student body about the derogatory use of the R-Word. 

Rhett’s passion for advocating for people with intellectual disabilities comes from having a brother with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Throughout their childhood his brother taught him many lessons about patience and acceptance, and the importance of recognizing and supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities that aren’t physically apparent. 

Now a student at Oregon State University, Rhett continues to be an outstanding supporter of Special Olympics Oregon in so many ways.  He has continued to be an avid Plunger as team captain for his fraternity’s team for the past two years, as well as assist with promoting the Polar Plunge on campus and in the community.  Aside from his many contributions to Special Olympics Oregon, Rhett is majoring in apparel design and minoring in both merchandising management and business at Oregon State. He is also a part of “Student Voice Panel” where he has spoken to superintendents and teachers across the state on behalf of his brother about the challenges that people with disabilities face. 

We are so thrilled and grateful to have a volunteer so committed and passionate like Rhett.  We cannot do what we do without awesome volunteers like Rhett.


Our featured athlete of the month is Douglas County’s Gerald “Jerry” Vanderhoff, better known by all who know and love him as:  Hubba.. Jerry has been involved with Special Olympics for many years. In 1987 he had the honor of attending Special Olympics International Games, which were held at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN.  Jerry competed in roller skating. 

Since that time, Jerry has continued his participation by being involved in long distance running/walking, basketball, soccer and bowling. Jerry likes to do many things but a couple of his interests include attending the car races and drumming. Jerry will take any opportunity to drum along to any music that is playing and his instrument of choice is a 5 gallon plastic bucket. Jerry was a long term employee at Sunrise Enterprises by being there for 38 years. He has since made a change and now volunteers at Saving Grace.

Jerry – “Hubba” – has a positive and outgoing personality, making him a joy to hang out with. He’s always got a ready smile and encouraging word for his teammates, his coaches, and all Special Olympics volunteers. If you get a chance to see Hubba at a competition, be sure to stop and say hello. Your day will be better as a result.

February Volunteer and Athlete of the Month

Feb 05, 2014 •

Volunteer of the Month
Portland Police Bureau's Lt. Jeff Kaer has been volunteering for Special Olympics Oregon through the Law Enforcement Torch Run program for many years.  You name it, and Jeff does it!  Jeff can be found at almost every Special Olympics Oregon event in the Portland area, handing out medals and cheering on athletes.  He helps coordinate the metro-area Torch Run, sits on the Polar Plunge Portland committee and is the captain for the Portland Police Bureau’s plunge team.  He volunteers at tip-a-cops, the Torch Ride, and recently started an annual Dodge Ball tournament.  And if all of that wasn't keeping him busy, Lt. Kaer just finished up a two year stint as the Chair of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Executive Council.  And the great thing about Jeff, like so many of our volunteers, is that he always has the best interest of the athletes in mind.  Thank you Jeff!! 
Athlete of the Month
Jerry Davis has a long history with Special Olympics Oregon Josephine County.  His participation goes all the way back to 1983.  One year he even competed in the National Competitions for Volleyball in South Bend, Indiana.  He is currently involved in Jo Co's program in each season.  In the summer he is the pitcher on the Jo Co Fireballs softball team, in the winter he plays basketball with the Josephine County Wildcats.  The autumn program is his absolute favorite.  Jerry is an avid bowler.  His average over the last three seasons in the Special Olympics program this year was 157.  His wife Carol enjoys bowling as much as he does and they both bowl in a league year round.

Jerry is Josephine County's unofficial goodwill ambassador.  He never misses an opportunity to let a new player know that Jerry will be his/her instant friend.  He always seems to be there with a word of kindness and encouragement just when it's needed.  He is always cheerful and cooperative and looks for ways to help the coaches and players in any way he can.  His wacky sense of humor and corny jokes help make the long bus trips more enjoyable.  It's hard to be unhappy when Jerry is around.


Trail Blazers Damian Lillard Promotes Respect

Feb 03, 2014 •


In January, Wilsonville High School capped off their Respect week, which consisted of daily activities and discussions surrounding acceptance, bullying and standing up for others with a high energy assembly. Thanks to the partnership between Special Olympics Oregon and the Portland Trail Blazers to promote Respect, the assembly had a guest speaker who is a leader on and off the court. Trail Blazers point guard and the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard spoke to more than 1,200 students in a packed gym. Damian was joined by Special Olympics Oregon athlete Travis Koski, Wilsonville High School Unified partner Zach Holbrook and Wilsonville High School Special Olympics athlete Ian Bohley.

Wilsonville High School began participating in Special Olympics Oregon in the spring of 2013 when they organized a team for the Unified Soccer League.  They are now participating in Unified basketball, organized a Partner’s Club and are promoting acceptance and inclusion through the Respect campaign and other awareness activities and events.

During the assembly, Lillard spoke about his dedication to the Respect campaign and encouraged students to sign the Trail Blazers’ online pledge and share their stories about treating people with kindness. Lillard is personally involved with Special Olympics as a Global Ambassador. He also helped coach the Special Olympics Unified Sports Game during the 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, Texas.

The Trail Blazers Respect campaign “Pass It On” and Special Olympics Oregon Respect campaign “Take the Lead” are proudly supported by Les Schwab Tire Company. 


A Simple New Way To Support Our Athletes

Jan 24, 2014 •



Click here:
to sign up for the Community Rewards program by linking your existing Fred Meyer Rewards Card to Special Olympics Oregon.

Please note, your card will not signal that you support Special Olympics Oregon until you complete the online registration

Step 2:

Use our unique nonprofit number:


to link your card to Special Olympics Oregon.

Now, every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you are supporting the thousands of participants with intellectual disabilities throughout Oregon!

You will still earn your Rewards Points, Fuel Points and Rebates, just as you do today- this program does not impact your personal rewards. If you do not have a Rewards Card, they are available at the Customer Service desk of any Fred Meyer store.

Thank you for all the ways you support Special Olympics Oregon!


Parkrose High School Unified Sports From A Student's Perspective

Dec 16, 2013 •



Written by Parkose student, Lupita Velazquez

This winter, the Parkrose SUN Community School will begin their 5th year of a partnership with Special Olympics Oregon to provide Unified Basketball for our students. Each Unified Basketball team consists of players with and without intellectual disabilities and the game is played under the same OSAA rules as traditional high school basketball. For some students, Unified Basketball is an opportunity to eliminate the social disconnection between the two worlds. From January to March our team meets weekly.  Everyone practices and makes new unforgettable friends. As the team practices together, the invisible social boundary that was once present between the two groups is gone. The goal for Unified Basketball is to give the students with disabilities a chance to be part of a team, which is something that is not given elsewhere. Unified Basketball brings opportunities and a healthy environment to the students who participate. There are two major tournaments where our students are able to compete against teams from as far away as Sutherlin, Oregon. In the tournaments, everyone cheers and encourages not only their own teammates, but their competitors as well. Unified Basketball brings in students who are not accepted for who they are and students who want to make a difference, one step closer to an accepting community.

November Athlete and Volunteer of the Month

Nov 07, 2013 •



Aaron Aarseth is an athlete with the Jackson County program.  He’s been participating for 15 years, trains and competes in Downhill Skiing, Basketball, Athletics and Volleyball.   Aaron’s involvement doesn’t stop at training and competition.  Since the Local Program began hosting an annual Walk-A-Thon five years ago, Aaron has been a top fundraiser - averaging over $800 each year! And the Jackson County program has never had a car wash without Aaron tirelessly hosing down and scrubbing cars all day.  Best of all, he does it with a smile and cheery disposition.

Aside from his own practices each season,  Aaron regularly attends other practices to encourage and cheer on his fellow athletes. You may also see him at local competitions, running water out to bocce fields and serving lunch at the bowling lanes.  He’s also been active and helpful with the Medford Polar Plunge.

An accomplished runner, Aaron was one of 10 athletes worldwide selected for the final leg of the 2009 Law Enforcement Torch Run, proudly representing Special Olympics athletes carrying the Flame of Hope into the Boise Convention Center during World Winter Games. From that experience, he has continued a close friendship with several Law Enforcement Officers nationwide.

When not training with his Special Olympics teams, Aaron works 5 days a week, bikes Medford putting about 100 miles on his odometer weekly, and helps out neighbors by walking their dogs. A side job for Aaron is collecting and returning redeemable recyclables.

He’s been a wonderful force in the Jackson County program, they’ll be extremely sad to lose him in their county when he moves to Washington County in the near future.  We expect to see him just as involved in his new program!



Marie Cabler is one of those key volunteers that make us shake our heads and say – “How did we get so lucky?”   She is a one-woman dynamo and we bet she’s able to do all that she does because she must not need any sleep.
Marie serves as the Volunteer Local Program Coordinator for Special Olympics Oregon – Jackson County.  She makes sure all components are in place to ensure quality training for athletes, including enough trained coaches are on hand, adequate training facilities are available, enough equipment is secured, and transportation and lodging arrangements are made for competitions.  She also coaches several sports throughout the year.   Her athletes love her and know that she cares deeply.

In her “spare” time (??!!) she helps in many other ways.  Marie is instrumental in helping to organize and manage the Bowling Regional Competition in Medford.  She also assists as part of the organizing committee for the Medford Polar Plunge.  In addition, she assists with the Grants Pass Regional Athletics Meet and has helped with Youth Games on the Nike Campus in Beaverton.
Amidst this flurry of activity, she is actively involved in the lives of her children and grandchildren, loves running, participates in Pilates regularly – and recently became the owner of a Pilates studio in Medford.

We have no idea how she does this with only 24 hours in a day.  However, we’re very glad she has chosen Special Olympics to share her enthusiasm and expertise.  We’re a better organization due to her involvement.

2013 Youth Leadership Summit

Nov 05, 2013 •




The energy was high on October 8th as more than 250 students and educators from middle and high schools in Oregon gathered at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton to attend the 2013 Special Olympics Oregon Youth Leadership Summit. 

The Youth Leadership Summit is an annual event designed to educate and motivate youth to create more accepting and inclusive school environments by implementing education and sports initiatives through Special Olympics.  The theme at this year’s Summit was Take the Lead, which is part of an awareness campaign sponsored by Les Schwab Tire Centers to engage young people in leadership roles to promote Respect in their schools. 
The entire day was filled with fun and encouragement.  To get everyone up and out of their seats, the Summit began with an advanced version of rock, paper, scissors.  However, in this version the loser doesn’t sit back down and stop playing, they become the winner’s cheerleader and cheer them on until there is one winner.  The competition was fierce and the crowd was cheering loudly as it came down to two contestants in the final game.  Hassan, a student from Forest Grove High school was the big winner and said it was such an awesome game!
A highlight for many at the Summit was listening to guest speaker Travis Koski, a 16-year old Special Olympics Oregon Athlete and Global Messenger from Hillsboro.  Travis shared his story about overcoming bullying in school and how his involvement in Special Olympics has changed his life and had a positive impact.  Travis ended his speech with a powerful call to action encouraging students to not use the R-Word (retard) and to be leaders of acceptance and respect in their schools, “let’s all get in that driver’s seat and take the lead, you don’t need a license to do that.”

The Summit included workshops that focused on Inclusive Youth Leadership, Polar Plunge, Public Speaking, Disability Awareness Week, and Unified Opportunities. Through these workshops, led by members of the Special Olympics Oregon Youth Activation Committee (YAC), students learned valuable information to help bring inclusion into their schools and how to improve programs that they already have in place. “I feel like there are a lot of great ideas here that we can borrow and bring back to our school like the Zumba party fundraiser to get people active, and some variations on things we’re already doing,” said by Matt Parrish, Special Education teacher and Project UNIFY advisers at Sutherlin High School. 

Forest Grove High School’s Unified Theater group also delivered a great performance of 'Marked', a play that demonstrated some of the labels and bullying that students today face at school. It was a moving performance that enhanced the idea of acceptance, tolerance, friendship, and self determination.

Joslynn Bigelow, a student from La Salle High School, said she enjoyed getting to know new students through the Youth Leadership Summit.  Joslynn also liked learning new leadership skills and interacting with other students from around the state. At La Salle, Joslynn is engaged in Partners Club because of the challenge she finds herself in determining the different needs that students with intellectual disabilities need versus those without. When asked what her favorite part of the Summit was, Joslynn said it was Travis Koski’s speech because she loved hearing how passionate he is and his ability to understand and interpret his own experiences.

KC Lopez, a student from Oregon City, found the Polar Plunge presentation to be his favorite part of the day. His take back from the day was to "be more respectful to everyone." KC is also excited to start a Partners Club at his school.

In typical Youth Summit and Special Olympics fashion, the event ended with a dance party to celebrate the success of the day! 

Special thanks to the following schools that attended the Youth Leadership Summit: Athey Creek Middle School, Bend High School, Douglas High School, Forest Grove High School, La Salle High School, McMinnville High School, North Marion High School, Oregon City High School, Parkrose High School, Rainier High School, Sherwood High School, Stayton High School, Sutherlin High School and Wilsonville High School.

October 2013 Athlete & Volunteers of the Month

Oct 03, 2013 •


Ryan Hopt has competed as an athlete for the Marion County Special Olympics program for seven years. During that time he has played various sports including track and field, volleyball, bowling, and basketball.

Outside of Special Olympics Ryan has also competed for his high school football and track teams at South Salem High School. After graduating this last spring he continues to stay involved as the South Salem Football Team's equipment manager.

In his spare time Ryan likes to hang out at home playing video games. When asked what his favorite Special Olympics sport was, he said "I have two. Basketball and Track."

Marion County Special Olympics is proud to have Ryan as one of their athletes.


Chris and Michelle Stipe of Beaverton got their first taste of Special Olympics Oregon at Youth Games five years ago. As a NIKE employee, Michelle introduced the event to Chris, and the couple was instantly hooked. For the past five years—except for one year when Michelle was too sick to attend—they have enjoyed interacting with the amazing youth who come to the Nike World Headquarters to sample SOOR’s life-changing programs.

The couple’s favorite part of volunteering is seeing the joy and enthusiasm expressed on the young faces of those attending the event. They are both energized by watching the participants accomplish things they previously thought were impossible. Interacting with the youth and helping them learn a new sport keeps Chris and Michelle coming back year after year.

A former high school and college track athlete, Chris relishes the opportunity to share his knowledge and skills. He always makes sure that he and Michelle are signed up to help with the field events each year.

Both Chris and Michelle say they’ve learned a lot about life while helping out at Youth Games. When they first volunteered, they assumed they would be the ones teaching the kids, but now they feel they are the ones who have learned the most.

The Stipes love how Special Olympics Oregon has programs that foster a sense of inclusivity and equality. Chris also is inspired by the support of corporations such as Nike that make these types of events possible.

2013 Red Robin Tip-A-Cop

Oct 02, 2013 •

Mark your calendars!  On Saturday, October 12th, Oregon law enforcement will trade in their handcuffs and badges for gourmet burgers and aprons at Red Robin® restaurants in Oregon as part of the national Tip-A-Cop event benefitting Special Olympics. Law enforcement across the U.S. will collect tips and help serve Red Robin restaurant guests from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m.

So stop by your local Red Robin restaurant for a juicy burger and Tip-A-Cop to support the athletes of Special Olympics Oregon! Can't make it on the 12th, but still want to contribute? Please visit www.soor.org/donate to donate online.

Tip-A-Cop® is part of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) campaign. LETR, which includes a series of relay runs and special events like Tip-A-Cop® and Polar Plunge, is presented by more than 1,000 law enforcement officers statewide to help raise money and public awareness for Special Olympics Oregon. LETR is the largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics Oregon.

La-Z-Boy CHAIR-ITY Test Sit Event

Sep 04, 2013 •


La-Z-Boy is hosting a CHAIR-ITY TEST-SIT event. Visit any of your local La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries (Clackamas, Delta Park, Tualatin, Tanasbourne, Gresham, and Salem) September 19th-22nd and take a Test Sit. For every adult who completes a 10 minute Test-Sit that weekend, La-Z-Boy will contribute $10 directly to Special Olympics Oregon. Additionally, if you make a purchase during that time, you will receive a 20% discount off regular priced merchancise with 5% of your purchase being donated back to SOOR.

So, be sure to encourage your friends and family stop by any of the local stores and sit in one of their cozy recliners. Store hours are: Thursday and Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Friday 10am to 8pm and Sunday 11am to 6pm. Pass it on and get your sit on!

September 2013 Athlete & Volunteer of the Month

Sep 03, 2013 • Athlete/Volunteer of the month



Joseph Tafolla is an amazing Polk County athlete.  He is 21 years old and has been participating with Polk County for the past three years.  In the 2013 Summer State Games, he competed in the 100m dash (division M01) and he earned the silver medal. He credits his success to dedication, hard work, positive coaches, and his teammates…for always supporting him and challenging him to do his best.

Joseph loves all sports but his all time favorite is basketball.  Joseph’s hobbies consist of hanging out with his friends and....of course.... playing basketball on the hoop he has in his yard. Joseph arrives at every practice and every competition with the will and desire to do better than the previous week and does so with the sportsmanship and excellence that Special Olympics strives to inspire.He is a leader and role model for the other athletes.

Joseph has a long term goal of going to national games in either basketball or athletics and definitely has the heart and will power to achieve that goal.  


Pam Boston is one SUPER volunteer! She has volunteered with Special Olympics Oregon for the past five years, but volunteering is a way of life for her. She was in the Peace Corp and has volunteered somewhere ever since that experience.  Pam’s official title with Special Olympics Oregon is Volunteer Coordinator for Josephine County, but this woman is like an octopus…she’s everywhere! If she is needed for Special Olympics at either a local or State level she’s there. When she heard they were short on volunteers for bocce in Eugene, she drove up to assist.  That was the day before her own local Regional Bocce competition was held in Medford where she also assisted. 

One of the many examples of Pam’s outstanding service is when she volunteered to be the “Right Arm” to HOD (Head of Delegation) for summer games. She took her car to Newburg so she could transport equipment and be there for transportation between venues and the hotel, pick up ongoing supplies (water, towels, etc.) and assist wherever she was needed. Imagine the surprise and pleasure of coaches when they arrived back at the hotel Saturday night and found all athletes had clean uniforms neatly folded and placed on their beds – all thanks to Pam’s visit to the laundromat. In addition, she does all of this with a smile and sunny disposition. She is the first one to express gratitude to others, while never seeking any herself.

Pam is the first one to volunteer to do anything throughout the year including providing refreshments for registration night and using her personal van to help reduce the cost of transportation.  She is truly our “Jack of all Trades” and “Master of All”.

7th Annual Roth's Fresh Markets Round Up

Jul 03, 2013 •


Special Olympics Oregon will be the beneficiary of the seventh annual Roth’s Fresh Markets “Round Up” at all Roth’s Salem-area grocery stores. This year the Round Up kicks off on Wednesday, July 3rd, and runs through Sunday, July 21st.

The Round Up fundraising promotion offers Roth’s customers the opportunity to “round up” their grocery receipts to the nearest dollar amount donating the difference to Special Olympics Oregon. “Each year our customers show strong support for Special Olympics Oregon in the local communities we serve,” said Melinda Roth. “Special Olympics Oregon athletes, volunteers and coaches depend on donations to fund their life-changing sports programs. I know the Salem community will continue to show their support by participating in the Round Up as they have each year since we started the program.”

It’s time again to kick off this year’s P&GbrandSAVER® and Thank you, Mom program!

May 06, 2013 •


It’s time again to kick off this year’s P&GbrandSAVER® and Thank you, Mom program! Keep an eye out for your P&GbrandSAVER® coupon books in your local newspaper on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, 2013.  

This promotion is based on coupon redemption: Special Olympics will receive 2 cents for every coupon used and you must present the coupon upon checkout. There is no limit to the donation from P&G, so the more coupons redeemed, the higher the gift.  And don’t forget the savings for you -- the P&GbrandSAVER® coupon book includes over$48 in savings! The coupons expire June 30, 2013, so don’t wait too long to start clipping and saving! To find a local newspaper carrying the P&GbrandSAVER® coupon book please click here http://www.pgeveryday.com/brandsaver-coupons


Add “Support Special Olympics” to Your April Grocery Shopping List!

Mar 25, 2013 •

For the sixth consecutive year, Special Olympics Oregon has been invited to be a beneficiary of an annual customer fundraising promotion with Safeway stores across Oregon. Please visit your neighborhood Safeway store from March 29 – April 30, 2013 and make a donation at checkout to support the People with Disabilities campaign.

Funds raised will benefit Special Olympics, Easter Seals and several other smaller disability organizations in local communities, which will allow us to provide greater services and programs for our 10,000 participants and help us reach the other 100,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in our state to bring them into the Special Olympics family. Thanks to the support of Safeway shoppers, the national People with Disabilities campaign has raised more than $9.3 million for Special Olympics since 2008.

Find out more about Special Olympics and Safeway by visiting: www.specialolympics.org/safeway


Mar 01, 2013 •

Marsha McCorkhill began working for the Oregon Department of Corrections in 1990 and is currently assigned as the Special Population Captain with responsibilities for the management of behaviorally and mentally challenged individuals.  She is married with three children, including one who is autistic and is a big part of her involvement in Special Olympics Oregon.  She became involved as a coach for Special Olympics Oregon to help meet the local need for expansion of the winter bowling program and spring and summer track.  Marsha has supported the Law Enforement Torch Run (LETR) for the past 12 years.  This is her blog about her recent experience at the World Winter Games in South Korea.

Last spring, I saw an e-mail sent out by Allison Ellermeier of Special Olympics Oregon asking for applicants for the final leg for LETR in South Korea for the World Winter Games of 2013.  I applied, and I was selected.  On January 21, I departed on a trip of a lifetime.

When I was at the San Francisco Airport I saw all of the women and men who I was to join for this rewarding adventure.  They were wearing their LETR, Polar Plunge shirts or the Special Olympics shirts from their own areas.  All of us were heading out on an adventure bringing awareness and support to our Special Olympics athletes from all over the world.   We immediately gathered at the airport to share stories, laugh and talk about our experiences with Special Olympics.

Over the next 10 days, 131 runners and support people gathered together, breaking up into two groups running two different routes and becoming guardians of the torch.  Of course, we all have very strong personalities, and we had to remind each other to be flexible.  Lots of long days, as well as the same food and unfamiliar customs,  made a few of us tired and grouchy. However, when we talked about our Special Olympians it made one thing clear:  We all had a passion and dedication for bringing awareness for the disabled and disadvantaged.

During our runs, athletes and parents of athletes would line the streets as we ran in or out of the city and villages.  They did not want our pins we carried; they wanted to touch our hands as we ran or walked by.  We were giving them hope and change -- being in Korea made a difference to them and, most of all, to us. 
We saw many of the ceremonies at the World Winter Games.  Some of the most memorable ones were the ones the Olympians did for LETR.  There were so many wonderful smiles, laughter, hugs, and handshaking.   For us to see the shy, scared and meek athlete who came up and wanted to participate in the ceremonies with us was just such a rewarding feeling.  

The Law Enforcement Torch runners from all over the world made a difference in thousands of peoples’ lives by delivering a flame of hope to the opening ceremonies.  I will never forget what a difference it made in my own life.  At the end of the World Winter Games we exchanged e-mail addresses and promises of keeping in touch and hopefully seeing each other again in Florida.  We all came together to share our past and future goals for LETR.  This amazing life-changing journey motivated us to continue to support our Special Olympics athletes no matter what country they are from.  


Feb 26, 2013 •

Congratulations to all five Special Olympics Oregon athletes who competed at the World Winter Games earlier this month in PyeongChang, South Korea. 

Bend’s Misty Holloman, a 22-year-old novice alpine skier who trains at Mount Bachelor, won a silver medal in the Super G event and participation awards in the Giant Slalom and Slalom. 

Jamie McClaughry of Baker City won a gold medal in intermediate cross-country skiing, a gold medal in the 4x1 relay and sixth place in the 2.5-kilometer race.  Jamie trained weekly at Anthony Lakes Ski Resort to prepare for the World Winter Games. 

Advanced Snowboarder Henry Meece of Portland won a gold medal in the Super G, fourth place in the Slalom and sixth place in the Giant Slalom.

Intermediate snowboarder Julieanne Taylor of Medford won a silver medal in the Super G, a silver medal in the Slalom, and fourth place in the Giant Slalom.  The 23-year-old trains at the Mt. Ashland Ski Area.

Chelsea Webb, a 23-year-old cross-country skier from Jackson County, showed off her championship skills by winning a gold medal in the 500-meter race, a gold medal in the one-kilometer race, and a silver medal in the 4x1 kilometer race.  Chelsea honed her cross-country skiing skills at Mount Shasta this winter. 

These five athletes were part of the Team USA delegation, comprised of 152 athletes and 61 volunteer coaches and staff.  They joined approximately 2,400 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from more than 110 countries in PyeongChang, also the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics.   Special Olympics Oregon covered all of the expenses for the athletes, including airfare and hotels in South Korea. 

To view more photos, check out the World Winter Games FACEBOOK PAGE.

What Did Your Donations Accomplish in 2012?

Feb 01, 2013 •

Special Olympics Oregon had growth in 2012 and we have you to thank! With your donations we were able to reach new children and adults with intellectual disabilities. With your support we were able to have more Unified Sports exhibition games. With your volunteer hours we were able to dedicate more time across the state to help serve the largest disability population in the Oregon. 

2012 was an exciting year, but we have more work to do. Today, Special Olympics Oregon serves more than 10,000 participants year-round however there are more than 100,000 Oregonians that could benefit from Special Olympics Oregon’s year-round services and programs.

Thank you for supporting our critical mission. Thank you for providing Training for Life to athletes and their families all across the state. Thank you for your continued support and thank you for helping us grow in 2012.

Let’s take a look at some of our numbers from 2011-2012:

State Games:  With the return of Summer State Games with the help of many supporters, the city of Newberg and Ken and Joan Austin from A-dec, we noticed an increase in State Games participation this year.

- 2011 State: 1294
- 2012 State: 1736
- 25 % increase

Annual Budget: Every dollar counts. We have done our part to make sure every dollar you donate goes back into our program and to support the children and adults we serve year-round with intellectual disabilities.

- 72% of budget went to programming in 2011
- 74% of budget went to programming in 2012

Nike Youth Games: With the support of Nike, and their more than 500 volunteers, Youth Games has been a critical component of Special Olympics Oregon’s growth. In order to reach new athletes and their families, this one day Special Olympics “sampler” allows youth and their family the opportunity to see what great services Special Olympics Oregon offers year round.

- 2011 - 2561
- 2012 -  2991
- 14% increase

Athlete and Unified Partner Counts: Respect in the schools. Respect at home. Respect on the field. Unified Sports has grown significantly since our partnership with the OSAA and OADA. We have worked with schools and students all over Oregon to help promote respect on and off the field.

- 2011 Regional: 4828
- 2012 Regional: 5024 (*Now we have more than 20 High School Unified Teams across the state. Promoting respect and the power of sport for all).

In 2012, you helped send five athletes and three coaches from Special Olympics Oregon to Republic of Korea for World Games. (see photos on Facebook)

Think where we will be this year, with you support, volunteer hours and donations?

Consider becoming a sustaining member and making a monthly gift to support an athlete for an entire season for only $12 a month.


Jan 25, 2013 •

PORTLAND – After months of conditioning and training, five athletes and three coaches from Special Olympics Oregon are on their way to the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea.  The seven days of competition begin on January 29 with opening ceremonies in PyeongChang, South Korea, which is about 110 miles east of Seoul, South Korea’s capital.     

Misty Holloman of Bend will compete in alpine skiing, Jamie McClaughry of Baker City and Chelsea Webb of Medford will compete in cross-country skiing, and Henry Meece of Portland and Julieanne Taylor of Medford will compete in snowboarding.  Their volunteer coaches are:  Chad Marcus of Portland, the snowboarding head coach; Mike McFayden of Portland, the snowboarding assistant coach; and Tom Wallace of Portland, an alpine skiing assistant coach.  The athletes and coaches are among 152 athletes and 61 volunteer coaches and staff members comprising the Team USA delegation. 

Henry Meece was born in Korea, and he was adopted at six months by his Portland family.  Twenty-two years later, Henry has grown up to be an accomplished snowboarder, even though he didn’t start snowboarding until he was in his early teens.  Henry has a brand-new snowboard that was donated for his competition at the World Winter Games, and all of his expenses are paid for by donations to Special Olympics Oregon.

More than 2,400 athletes from more than 110 countries will compete in PyeongChang and Gangneung, South Korea.  PyeongChang will host the XXIII Winter Olympics in 2018.  This is the tenth Special Olympics World Winter Games.  The games occur every two years and alternate between winter and summer games.  




2013 Global Youth Activation Summit

Jan 23, 2013 •

Special Olympics Oregon is sending three representatives to the 2013 Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit (GYAS) in PyeongChang, South Korea, which will be held from January 29 through February 5. Alix Wasteney, Project UNIFY Coordinator for Special Olympics Oregon, will accompany Stanley Stimson, a Special Olympics athlete from Rainier High School, and Caitlynn Cantrell, a sophomore from McMinnville High School.

Stanley and Caitlynn will be part of a group of approximately 100 young people from 22 countries who will attend youth-led leadership training programs and interactive sports experiences to learn about making a difference and promoting social inclusion through the power of sports in their schools and communities. Using the theme "EDUCATE, MOTIVATE AND ACTIVATE," the youth leaders will act as journalists reporting on the Special Olympics World Games and publishing their stories, photos, blogs, and posts every day on the Special Olympics and 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games websites and social network sites.

A Global Youth Rally, an exciting and motivational multi-media event that will address key issues that young people face regarding intellectual disabilities and society, will also be part of their exciting experience. The participants will visit local Korean schools to help plan activities that will demonstrate their involvement with Special Olympics.

The Global Youth Activation Summit will be held during the Special Olympics 2013 World Winter Games. This event will be held on the same site as the 2013 Winter Olympics. Pyeongchang, South Korea is approximately 110 miles east of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, in the Taebaek Mountains region. There will be more than 3,300 athletes and coaches representing 112 countries, as well as more than 15,000 family members, friends, volunteers, and spectators. The games will feature competitions in eight Olympic-type sports: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, short track speed skating, figure skating, floor hockey, and a floor ball demonstration.

"I am the most excited about meeting people with and without intellectual disabilities from all around the world," Caitlynn said.  "I plan to learn more amazing skills to bring back to my hometown and school along with meeting and creating many fantastic new friendships." 

Special Olympics Oregon Charitable Ideas

Jan 22, 2013 •

 Did you take an IRA Distribution in December 2012?
 Did you forget to take Your Required Minimum Distribution from your IRA in 2012?
 Do you know about the Charitable Option that may benefit your 2012 Tax Planning?

The most recent Fiscal Cliff Scenario produced the 2012 Taxpayer Relief Act which includes a provision for a Charitable IRA Rollover. The two cases below are applying to charitable individuals across the country, could either case relate to you?

Ask your Advisor(s) Today!
Must be acted on before January 31, 2013

Case One:

Peter is an individual who is over age 701/2, and the owner of a traditional IRA. On Dec. 12, 2012, Peter received a $25,000 distribution from the IRA in satisfaction of his Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) for 2012.

Under the special rule for Dec. 2012 distributions, Peter can elect to transfer to an eligible charity (Special Olympics Oregon) any amount of cash up to $25,000 (the amount of his 2012 RMD), and the amount transferred will be treated as a tax-free qualified charitable distribution, as long as Peter makes the charitable transfer no later than Jan. 31, 2013. Peter will still be considered to have satisfied his 2012 RMD regardless of the amount of the charitable transfer.

Case Two:

John is an individual who is over age 701/2, and the owner of a traditional IRA. During 2012, he did not take any distributions from the IRA, even though he was required to take a $10,000 minimum distribution for 2012. On Jan. 18, 2013, John directs his Advisor/IRA trustee to make a $10,000 charitable transfer directly to Special Olympics Oregon.

Under the special rule for Jan. 2013 distributions, John can elect to treat the $10,000 charitable transfer as having been made on Dec. 31, 2012. If John makes the election (pursuant to rules that IRS is to prescribe), he will be (i) considered to have satisfied his minimum distribution requirement for 2012, and (ii) entitled to make another tax-free charitable transfer of up to $100,000 in 2013.

Special Olympics Oregon Contact:
Cathy Gidley
503.248.0600 ext. 45

Meet Super Plunger Devin Hite

Dec 13, 2012 •

STAYTON -- When high school senior Devin Hite jumps into Special Olympics Oregon, she does it in a big way.   A three-year veteran of Polar Plunge in Corvallis, this year she has joined the Super Plunge team that will jump into the Columbia River in Portland once an hour for 24 hours on February 8 and 9. Devin is dressed in pink in the photo above.

Devin’s involvement in Special Olympics Oregon began her freshman year at Stayton High School.  “I had a lot of friends in student council who were really involved in Polar Plunge, and I got really excited about it and thought it was a good idea,” she said.  With the help of a Facebook page, Devin has already raised $1,000 from family and friends, and her next step is to request donations from businesses in the Stayton area, including a local movie theater that she hopes will sponsor a movie night with proceeds supporting her Polar Plunge fundraising efforts. 

Devin, 18, is the president of Stayton High School’s Project Unified Club, as well as treasurer of her school’s student council, and she has a part-time retail sales job at Lancaster Mall in Salem.  She is one of 20 youth on Special Olympics Oregon’s Youth Activation Committee, also known as the YAC.  She assists in the planning and organizing of events such as Polar Plunge, R-Word events, youth rallies, and Unified Sports.  She helped organize the Youth Leadership Summit at Nike this fall, and she made a presentation about Polar Plunge, including leading the group in a song about Polar Plunge. 

“Devin has made tremendous efforts to connect general education and special education students at Stayton High School,” said Alix Wasteney, Project UNIFY Coordinator at Special Olympics Oregon.  “Stayton High School lost their Project UNIFY advisor this year, as she moved to another school.  Devin worked very hard to recruit another teacher to take her place and support and oversee their Project UNIFY activities.  Devin continues to step up and demonstrate outstanding leadership skills in both her high school and on the Youth Activation Committee.  She is always checking in with me to see how she can help and be more involved.”

Devin attributes her involvement in Special Olympics Oregon to helping her prepare for college at Portland State University. “I’ve opened myself up to a bigger environment and to meeting people with intellectual disabilities.  Even in my job we have customers with intellectual disabilities come in, and I feel so much more comfortable talking to them.  I’m hoping to major in community health and communications because I’d like to work for a non-profit.  My ultimate goal is to work for Special Olympics Oregon.”

If you’d like to join Devin and the other SUPER PLUNGERS, find out more about how you can be part of the most elite team in Oregon! 


“I Pledge” Picture Campaign to Support Polar Plunge and the R-Word Campaign

Nov 01, 2012 • R-Word Campaign

Take the PledgeYoncalla High School student Taryn Lowes organized a picture campaign to stop the use of the R-word. When choosing her Senior Project, Lowes wanted it to be something she was passionate about that would make a difference in her community.

In 2009 she learned about the Polar Plunge at a leadership conference in Seaside. In 2010 she started a plunge team at her school, organized an assembly, and held a “pledge week” to have students sign the R-word pledge at lunch and collect donations. She has continued these events for the last few years and will take those events even farther this year. She plans to speak at surrounding schools and possibly in the Eugene area.

When asked what made her choose this project Lowes replied, “This project is more than just jumping into freezing water. It is supporting something I believe in, helping Special Olympics athletes, and helping to eliminate one of the many forms of bullying that students deal with on a daily basis.”

She had participated in Polar Plunge for the past two years and had a love for photography. She decided to combine her two passions and create a campaign that would reach out to people. She knew that this would be a huge task and enlisted the help of Chelsea Scott.

Lowes realizes multimedia is a huge part of everyone’s lives and that by incorporating it, she would be able to reach more people with her project. She turned her previous Polar Plunge team Facebook page into a place to promote her campaign.

The campaign is a simple four step process…

1.      Choose to take the pledge not to use the R-word (retarded)

2.      Write “I Pledge” on your hand

3.      Take a picture of your hand

4.      Send the picture to takethepledgepics@gmail.com or upload it to The Believers Facebook page 

Along with raising awareness about the R-word, she hopes to raise money for her Polar Plunge team. She has a goal to gather 1,000 pledges. If she can get every person who pledges to donate $1, she will reach her fundraising goal of $1,000.

If anyone would like to donate or participate in the campaign, you can send an Email to takethepledgepics@gmail.com or visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/thebelieversYHS


2012 Youth Leadership Summit

Oct 16, 2012 •

More than 250 Oregon middle and high school student leaders gathered at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton this month for the fourth annual Youth Leadership Summit to learn how to activate and educate their schools with Special Olympics Oregon programs. 

The students learned ways to get their classmates and schools involved in Partners Club, Polar Plunge and Unified Sports, and how to advocate in their schools for inclusion, acceptance, respect, and equality. 

The Leadership Summit included motivational speeches from Will Groulx, two-time world champion paralympic gold medalist in wheelchair rugby and Travis Koski, a 15-year-old Special Olympics Oregon athlete from Hillsboro.  Ryan Avery of Special Olympics Oregon, who was recently awarded World Champion of Public Speaking by Toastmasters International, also spoke to the students about raising awareness using public speaking and social media.    

Forest Grove High School’s Unified Theatre department presented their performance of “Law & Order, Special R-Word Division,” in which the audience yelled, “Guilty!” at the mock trial of a student who used the R-word in class.

Kenny Ross, a junior at Sherwood High School, was inspired to get involved in his school’s Bridge Club, which builds relationships and encourages diversity at Sherwood High School.  Kenny coaches Special Olympics downhill ski racing and plans to help coach Special Olympics track in the spring.  Kenny, who juggles schoolwork, playing the trombone, ski racing at Mt. Hood, and pole vaulting and sprinting in the spring during track, wants to make special education classes part of his college education – hopefully at the University of Oregon, where he wants to play in the marching band.

His classmates Lyndi Rae Petty, Nancy Nguyen and Chelsey Balderree said that the summit inspired them to start a Partners Club at their school, which will involve coordination with their school’s administration and student council.  They hope to meet as a club once a week and do group activities once a month.

The following schools attended the Youth Leadership Summit:  Athey Creek Middle School, Bend High School, Century High School, Douglas High School, Forest Grove High School, LaSalle Prep High School, McMinnville High School, Parkrose High School, Rainier High School, Sherwood High School, Stayton High School, Sutherlin High School, West Linn High School, and Wilsonville High School. 

Special Olympics Oregon Youth Games, Presented by Nike - A Thank You Letter

Oct 02, 2012 •


Thank you to Nike, Subway, and Special Olympics Oregon for sponsoring the Youth Games at Nike today.  My son T.J. is eleven years old and he loves basketball.  He loves to shoot the ball at the hoop from his wheelchair.  T.J. was in group 18, led by some great Nike volunteers.  I have to single out Ryan of the Nike downtown Portland store for special thanks. 

Ryan worked with T.J. in a way that was professional, not afraid to work with T.J. due to his disabilities.  Ryan was tireless in running after the ball when T.J. would throw it all over the court. 

Ryan challenged T.J. to stretch his arms and really push himself.  Ryan was fantatic.  Nike is lucky to have such a great employee with a great heart.

We also met Paralympic gold-medalist Will Groulx.  Will noticed right away that T.J. has a love for basketball and was great in his interactions with T.J.  Will spoke with me afterwords and I appreciate his big heart.   The University of Portland Pilots sent some great young men to work the Special Olympic athletes.  The coach and the players led the basketball clinic with humor and fun.  They adapted their drills to T.J.’s abilities.

T.J. has a severe siezure disorder and was born with a brain issue that required brain surgery at age 2.  The seizures have robbed his ability to walk, talk clearly, and think beyond the level of a toddler.  He weighs just over 100 pounds and he requires a lot of hands-on care.  But he is happy and he loves basketball.  He is not in pain too often.  He has seizures daily … dozens of them.  Some are greater than others.  So life with T.J. can be a challenge.  It was great to have a few hours of respite as I watched all the wonderful people work with T.J. on a volunteer basis.  I am thankful … thankful beyond words for the kindness, fun and  joy shown to my son today.  He had a great time!

T.J.s’ dad,  
David Grand

Athletes for Athletes - LETR Officer Does a 100 Mile Run to Support Special Olympics Oregon

Oct 02, 2012 •

I never intended to be in the lead pack, nor find myself in fourth place in my first 100 mile foot race but there I was.

I have been running ultramarathons for eighteen months now and I really enjoy the haphazard laidback attitude that compliments the driven intensity of running these incredible distances.

I like showing up to races a little early, I always have, and for this race, showing up early meant getting involved in set-up at the start. We arrived behind two other cars who were hitting their break lights in the pitch black of the warm morning at the same time as we were. Ahead of us was the race director tossing things from his car onto a very empty and dark start area.

We immediately began to help setting up the easy-up ten. Then I started working on getting the generator going while others started stringing the Christmas lights that would illuminate the check-in table that was just going up.

Meanwhile behind us we hear a "psssssst" as the race director sprayed the start line onto the road. All I could think of was "Damn, I love this sport". To hell with the several thousand participants crammed in to the start, trying to holler over the blaring dance music. THIS is the way to start a race.

I trotted down to the port-a-potty which was a 150 yards from the start and there were groups of people asking where the start was. I let them know it was up the hill, smiling again at the loose construct that made this sport great. I made it back up in time for the countdown. The generator never started, the lights never turned on, the start line was still wet, half of the runners were still down the hill, and none of that mattered. This was an ultra and we didn’t need all that structure or pizzazz.   

The course was a gorgeous challenge for the mind and the body. And it started with one simple mantra “start slow and taper”. There were 100 miles ahead of us; 24-34 hours for the majority of us, and it was critical that no one sane start off too fast.

I positioned myself about 1/3 of the way back from the front. It is where I felt comfortable. The mutants* would be up front(*I call the elite runners “mutants” which is my way of complimenting their unfathomable ability to run as fast as they do for that amount of distance over such terrain.), I didn’t want to start in the back and try to pass too many on the single-track ahead of us. And as soon as the gun when off I moved up rapidly.

Keep in mind, I had no intention of doing this, but there was some poor soul, who was very obviously sick and decided to start anyway. Just behind and to my left, came the most horrible sounds I have heard from man or beast. It sounded like a cross between a large dog with a chicken bone stuck in his throat and one of those monsters on Scooby-Doo – you know, the ones with the gruff, warbly, moans scaring the tar out of poor Scooby and Scrappy. And I never looked because I didn’t need to, but he was definitely extricating some large blobs. I could hear them hit the pavement like water balloons.

So out of utter fear, I moved up. I found myself in the scary position right behind the mutants.

Just behind the mutants is not where you want to be in a race of this distance. But I couldn’t go back, I was more scared of the “Harfing-Lung”, as I now called him, than I was of running up my engine too early.

So there I was, in the second pack. Still pacing slow enough to carry on a conversation, but I knew in my heart, I should slow down, and I would, I just needed to get away from “Harfing-Lung”. I was sure he would end up in crumpled mass on the side of the road within the next few miles. He should have never toed the line.

A couple of folks were carrying on a conversation. One was called Jen. Shortly after I pulled up behind Jen, a tasmanian of a personality ran past me and pulled up right beside Jen. This was also Jen. Jen Shelton one of the elite female runners of ultramarathons and one of the largest and loudest personalities of any room she entered struck up a very lively conversation with Jen.

“Wow” I thought. Jen Shelton and Jen Benna, I knew right then that I was pacing behind #1 and #2 women finishers in this race. I was watching the opening lines of what would be called in the papers the next day as “The Battle of The Jens”. I was in awe and immediately realized that I was running way too fast. I had 99 miles to go and I needed to take it down a notch soon.

So it was there at mile 2 that I took 4th place. You see the mutants hadn’t seen the turn off the road onto the trail. Fortunately, a car had pulled up to the trailhead just after the mutants had passed and just before we arrived. She hopped from her car and hollered at us to turn there. And there were only three in front of me.

Ok, it was a short lived victory. It didn’t take long for the mutants to get culled back, turn around and catch back up. But I can forever say that for a short while I was 4th in the Pine to Palm 100 mile endurance race. (just don’t tell anyone it was for 10 minutes).

The path climbed quickly and immediately from the starting line and maintained a healthy incline for the first 10 miles. We traveled to 5,000 feet before descending again. It was a seldom used and poorly maintained trail which only added to the challenge.

And it was at mile 3 that I made a crucial mistake that could have cost it all for me. The morning sun had risen and the ambient light was strong enough to no longer need my headlamp. So I took it off. And for whatever reason, instead of putting it in my pocket, like I had for so many recreational and training sessions. Nay, this time I held my lamp in my hand.

And it was just a few short moments later that part of the trail grabbed my toe and before I knew it, I went down hard!

My knee and hands hurt badly. I could feel the blood starting to dribble down my leg. I looked in horror at my headlamp now in a half-dozen shards of plastic. Hmmm one of the shards is in my hand, “pluck”. I got off the trail to let a group pass. They asked and I let them know that I was ok.

But I wasn’t, the race might be over for me. I always check the moon and light data for every camping, climbing or running trip I ever take. I knew this evening there would be no moon lighting my path. Tonight I would desperately need a headlamp. And where and how the hell was I going to get one?

I needed to find all the parts. Surely if I can find them, I could “MacGyver” something together. I fished around in the leaves for a few seconds and then a runner would pass, then I would fish some more. Several runners later, I did it. I found all the parts.

“Batteries!” – gotta find those too. “Ha! Found them”. I shoved the parts in my pocket and limped off down the trail.

I needed a lamp, but I couldn’t worry about that now. For now it was light and I was going to try to make it as far as I could. I’ll figure out this lamp thing at my next rest station. Right now I needed to move down the trail.

I had lost my position in 4th place. Lol. It’s important that you keep your sense of humor. Thank goodness I still have mine.

Crap! I reached up to discover my sunglasses fell off my head in my fall. I ran the quarter mile back to find them. Runners had very confused faces as I ran up to them headed the wrong direction. Of course they all asked if I was ok.

I easily discovered the place I had fallen; I could clearly see my hand print in the hard packed dirt trail. “Darn I hit hard”. I looked desperately, but didn’t find them. That wouldn’t be a deal breaker, but I knew I would be a little cranky in the sun-exposed section of the trail due to hit us smack dab in the face in the heat of the day. Oh well, I got to make tracks.

The morning warmed up quickly. My moisture wicking shirt was soaked by seven in the morning and didn’t dry out until nine that night. I was drinking water often and in massive quantities and it seemed to have a direct path through my body and out my sweat glands. I felt healthy and well hydrated, but I can’t ever remember sweating for that long in my life. 

The air was so bone dry and unbelievably dusty, the dust kicked up by runners lingered in the calm and turned your mouth and throat into a dry pasty mess and made your tongue swell. There was definitely a benefit to being in the lead of any small group that coagulated along the trail. The dust cloud would just linger and get sucked down your throat, each breath stalled on the way to burning in the lungs.

As we pulled into the mile 5 aid station, Scott Jurek, one of the most well-known ultrarunners was there greeting everyone and filling water bottles. I couldn’t believe it, Scott Jurek winner of the Hard Rock 100, two time winner of Badwater, three time winner of the Spartathalon, six time winner of Western States and the 2010, at the 24-Hour World Championships in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, set a new US record for distance run in 24 hours with 165.7 miles, and he was helping at an aid station. He truly is a humble guy. And having him there was an inspiration.

I dashed off up the hill with a smile on my face and then decided to go back. I ripped by camera out of my pocket and ran the .25 mile back to the aid station. Surprised, Scott says “Running backward down the trail”. I replied with outstretched camera, “I’d really like a picture, if you don’t mind”. He was glad to have one taken and afterward he gave me a high-five. I thanked him and scampered back up the hill.   

We were coasting along at a pretty good clip around mile 8 when suddenly the runner in front of me stopped dead in his tracks and became an instant ninja. He was chopping wildly and I was pretty sure he was just about to turn around and give me a good ass whoopin’ when I heard him yelp “BEES!”. I passed him and hollered back “keep moving!” I kept moving. I certainly wasn’t in the mood to tangle with any bees.

As we followed along the ridgeline I noticed pile after pile of skat – bear droppings. Some of the piles looked very fresh. I’m pretty sure one was even steaming. This was bear country! I was hoping the sound of the runners had the bears avoiding the trail. Or at least that one of the runners in front of me had filled their bellies enough that they would leave me alone. Ok, not really, but these are the funny things you think about when you have 30 hours of nothing but you and the trail ahead of you.

It was mile 18 and it was getting hot. Unbearably hot (pun intended). Folks I encountered were grumpy. It was clear to me that this was the part of the race that was NOT fun. This was the part of the race that was going to be work. It was time to dig deep.

I needed to tap all the inspirations that caused me to be right here, right now, doing what most of the world would think (and have told me on several occasions) was INSANE.

Normally I started by thinking about the beauty of the trail and the challenge on the body. And certainly those things were happening, but right now the beauty was fading with the beating sun and the challenge was a little to the right of the dial on the fun scale. I needed something else.

And that’s when I thought about the Athletes.

A couple months before the race, I approached Kelly Coates about using this run as a platform for raising awareness and donations for Special Olympics. She liked the idea and she started up a website for me. She introduced me at a Coaches Appreciation Night and subsequently hosted a kick-off party for the race. She was fantastic and I really understood why she is so good at what she does.

But what I liked the most in the days leading up to the race was the training run. A couple of weeks before the race Kelly organized a group of Athletes from Special Olympics to go on a training run at Forest Park. Not really knowing what to expect, I was nervous and excited to see the Athletes.

Those five miles of trail with the Athletes were fantastic. Running with Kristy, Todd, Sala and Liam really put a smile on my face. They had the happy heart that all runners need to truly enjoy this sport. Thinking about the challenges they have to endure everyday made me feel silly for complaining about a little heat.

More importantly, thinking about the smiles on their faces as they ran and how happy they were made me smile. I will always remember that day. I smiled so much that day my cheeks hurt. I felt my feet getting lighter and my steps getting smoother. I was going to finish this race. For them.

To be continued…


Sep 05, 2012 •

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Local Law Enforcement Officers in Oregon Raise Funds to Benefit Special Olympics Oregon

Red Robin Tip a  Cop for Special OlympicsWho:    Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR), local Law Enforcement agencies, and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (Red Robin)

What:   Local law enforcement will trade in their handcuffs and badges for gourmet burgers and aprons at Red Robin® restaurants in Oregon as part of the national Tip-A-Cop event benefitting Special Olympics. Law enforcement in 39 states will collect tips and help serve Red Robin restaurant guests from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m.

When:  Oct. 13, 2012, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.

Where: All 17 Oregon Red Robin® restaurants. We encourage Oregon media to visit one of the local Red Robin restaurants for interviews and photos with local law enforcement and Special Olympics Oregon athletes and representatives.

Why:    Supporting local and national causes, like Special Olympics, that promote the health and welfare of families and citizens in local communities is an important part of the Red Robin culture.  Red Robin has been supporting Special Olympics Programs across the country for the past six years and has helped raise more than $1.5 million for Special Olympics.

Tip-A-Cop® is part of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) campaign. LETR, which includes an international series of relay runs and special events like Tip-A-Cop®, is presented by more than 144,000 law enforcement officers worldwide to help raise money and public awareness for Special Olympics. LETR is the largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics through which funds raised go directly to local programs in states or countries where the funds are generated.

About Special Olympics Oregon

Special Olympics Oregon serves the largest disability population in the state and this year they will celebrate their 40th Anniversary. Special Olympics Oregon provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community. Special Olympics Oregon is Training for Life. Additional information can be found at www.soor.org.

CONTACT:     Jamie Winter                                         
                        Red Robin Gourmet Burgers              

Ryan Avery
Special Olympics Oregon
503-248-0600 ext. 29


2013 Global Youth Activation Summit

Aug 27, 2012 • Project UNIFY Oregon

2013  PyeongChang Special Olympics Winter GamesCongratulations to Stanley Stimpson, Caitlynn Cantrell, and Alix Wasteney.  They will represent Special Olympics Oregon at the 2013 Global Youth Activation Summit in South Korea during the Special Olympics Winter World Games in PyeongChang.

Stanley is a Special Olympics Oregon athlete from Rainier High School.  Caitlynn is a Special Olympics Oregon partner from McMinnville High School.  Stanley and Caitlyn are also members of our state-wide Project UNIFY Youth Activation Committee.  Alix is the Project UNIFY Coordinator at Special Olympics Oregon.

The 2013 Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit is a gathering for approximately 100 young people, with and without intellectual disabilities, from around the world.  The students are paired – one Special Olympics athlete and a peer partner without an intellectual disability from the same community, state or country.

During the summit, participants will attend youth-led leadership training programs and interactive sports experiences.  They will also act as journalists reporting on the World Games, publishing their stories and photos daily on the Special Olympics and 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games Web sites and social network sites.

The summit will also include a Global Youth Rally gathering thousands of young people from South Korea area and around the world for an exciting, motivational, multi-media event to address key issues young people face regarding intellectual disabilities and society.

Special Olympics Oregon staff nominated Stanley and Caitlynn in May 2012 to attend the GYAS.  They had to submit an application and were interviewed by phone.  On August 1st  they were notified that they had been selected to attend the GYAS.  

You can see and read more about the World Winter Games here:  http://www.2013sopoc.org/hb/en.

Summer State Games Photos

Jul 17, 2012 •

2012 Summer State Games are held July 14-15 in Newberg. The Summer State Games are the state championship competitions in the sports of athletics (track & field), bocce, golf, and softball for Special Olympics athletes in Oregon. All participants have trained in their hometowns for eight weeks prior to the Summer Games and have qualified to compete at the Summer Games at a regional level competition. Thanks to the generous support of A-dec and the amazing city of Newberg, these games will be held annually in Newberg, Oregon.


Special Olympics Oregon Photo Album

Clackamas County

Douglas County

Union County


Golf, Dinner, Torch Run, Ceremonies and Dance

Ceremonies Part II



Jul 14, 2012 •

As former teammates for the George Fox University women’s basketball team, B.B. Gardner and M.J. Samples have used their team spirit and enthusiasm for Special Olympics Oregon to coordinate Olympic Town at this month’s Summer State Games in Newberg. The two volunteers have been working for five months with a third coordinator, Kelly McGraw, to put together fun activities and entertainment for the athletes, families and fans of this year’s Summer Games.  
“I love seeing high school kids get out here and interact with the athletes,” said B.B. as she watched a large group of Zumba dancers following the moves of Zumba by Jennie, a Newberg fitness instructor, in the middle of Olympic Town.  “ The athletes come over here and see how much fun it is,” said B.B., who is an educational assistant and Newberg resident.

This year’s Olympic Town is a large grouping of white tents surrounding a center stage on one of the sports fields at Newberg High School.  Treasure hunters got to try their luck with the Beaver State Coin Shooters, a metal detecting club from Linn/Benton Counties, who were teamed with a local American Legion club to help athletes and families hunt in the grass for coins, jewelry and tokens that could be exchanged for prizes.   “We hid $350 in nickels, dimes and quarters, and we’ve been collecting costume jewelry all year,” said Mary Canady, the treasurer of the club.  “They (the athletes) know we’re here, and they come over and look for us.”

One of the highlights was a horse driving demonstration by Stoneybrook Stables of Eagle Creek.  Several Special Olympic Oregon athletes took turns in the driver's seat of a small horse carriage pulled by Reno, a palomino horse from Stoneybrook Stables.  Owner Robert Shannon helped direct the drivers in steering the cart around cones at Olympic Town.  "The horse understands the kids, and the kids leave happy," said Katherine Jesenik about the program at Stoneybrook Stables that provides opportunities for kids with intellectual or physical disabilities to learn about horse grooming and care as well as horse driving. 

The Evergreen  Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville had a team of museum educators helping athletes shoot paper rockets with a pneumatic rocket launcher.  At the Pot-a-Plant booth, visitors could repot a small plant and take it home with them. 

The Newberg Police Department’s narcotics K-9 dog, Charlie, a nine-year-old yellow laborador retriever, demonstrated his drug-sniffing expertise with his handler.  Yamhill County’s Volunteer Posse had three horses named Cache, April and Hank standing patiently for anyone who wanted to pet a beautiful horse. 
Perhaps the hottest volunteer job at the Summer State Games was David Marvin’s.  Dressed in a furry bear suit with a sign around his neck that said, “Free Bear Hugs,” David was volunteering at the Summer State Games the second year in a row.  “I just stand here, and they come up and hug me,” said David, who is a George Fox University graduate who works with people with disabilities in Newberg and Hillsboro and is working on his master’s degree in Christian Studies.  “It’s ridiculously hot,” he said with a smile.  

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and the Boyds Coffee booth were popular stops for visitors; all proceeds benefitted Special Olympics Oregon.  The Newberg Fire Department and the Yamhill County Search and Rescue also had vehicles on display.  The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) was selling tee-shirts and raffle tickets for a Harley Davidson motorcycle to raise funds for their volunteer efforts for Special Olympics Oregon.    SOOR souvenirs, including tee-shirts, Nike hats, duffle bags, sweatshirts, and water bottles also were for sale at the souvenir booth.  

Olympic Town was a highlight of this year’s Summer State Games!

Officers to carry Special Olympics Torch to Newberg

Jul 05, 2012 •

LETR continues long tradition of igniting Flame of Hope and officially opening Summer State Games

The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) represents a long-standing tradition within the Special Olympics family. During the week of July 8-14, over 800 law enforcement volunteers (Guardians of the Flame) and Special Olympics Oregon athletes will relay the Flame of Hope to Summer State Games, their destination being the Games Ceremonies at Newberg High School Stadium.

The Final Leg of the Torch Run will take place on Saturday afternoon from McMinnville to Newberg and will arrive at Newberg High School at 5:20 p.m. Then, LETR officials will convene for the final Torch procession. Led by more than 75 law enforcement officers, athletes and their coaches will parade into the Newberg High School stadium for Games Ceremonies at 7:30. At the close of ceremonies, a torch bearer and Special Olympics Oregon athlete will run a final lap around the stadium and light the cauldron.

If you are intersted in running with our local LETR officers and athletes here is more information on this year’s Torch Run route and following legs:

Troutdale to Newberg – 60 miles

Sunday July 8:
Troutdale to Portland
Marc Shrake, Troutdale Police Department, marc.shrake@troutdaleoregon.gov

Friday July 13:
Milwaukie to Washington County to Sherwood
Bob Jordan, Milwaukie Police Department   jordanr@ci.milwaukie.or.us
Cindy Mackley, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, cindy_mackley@co.washington.or.us

Ashland to Newberg – 270 miles

Monday July 9th:
Ashland area to Roseburg
Ericka Doran, Medford Police Department ericka.doran@cityofmedford.org

Tuesday July 10th:
Roseburg area to Eugene
Matt Bowersox, Oregon State Police- Roseburg matt.bowersox@state.or.us
Brian Sanders Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, bksanders@co.douglas.or.us

Wednesday July 11th:
Eugene to Corvallis
Kris Martes, Eugene Police Department kris.m.martes@ci.eugene.or.us 

Thursday July 12th:
Corvallis to Jefferson
Joel Goodwin, Corvallis Police Department joel.goodwin@ci.corvallis.or.us 
Alan Lynn, Albany Police Department alan.lynn@cityofalbany.net 

Friday July 13th:
Jefferson to McMinnville
Erik Douglass, Marion County Sheriff’s Office edouglass@co.marion.or.us 
Brian Frazzini, Salem Police Department bfrazzini@cityofsalem.net 
Eric Davenport, Oregon State Police eric.davenport@state.or.us 
Adam Dean, McMinnville Police Department adam.dean@ci.mcminnville.or.us 

Saturday July 14th:
McMinnville to Newberg
Adam Dean, McMinnville Police Department adam.dean@ci.mcminnville.or.us 
Gwen Johns, Newberg-Dundee Police Department gwen.johns@newbergoregon.gov 
The torch will arrive at Newberg High School at 5:20 PM.

Brookings to Reedsport - 135 miles

Judy Macho, Reedsport Police Department judymacho@charter.net

That weekend—July 13, 14, 15—some 3,000 Special Olympics Oregon athletes, coaches, and other volunteers will converge on the Newberg area to compete for Olympic medals and ribbons in softball, golf, bocce, track and field, and gymnastics. Athletes have been training for a minimum of eight weeks for the State Summer Games, and must have participated in one of many regional competitions to be eligible to compete this weekend. The public is welcome to come out and watch the competition. Admission is free.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run began in Wichita, Kansas in 1981. Now a year-round global event, all 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run relay. In Oregon, more than 1,000 law enforcement personnel from federal, military, state, county and local agencies participate in the Torch Run, Special Olympics Oregon’s largest grassroots fundraising and public awareness program.

Roth’s Launches Annual ‘Round Up’ for Special Olympics Oregon

Jul 05, 2012 •

In the past six years, The Roth's "Round Up" has raised more than $180,000.00 for local Special Olympics Oregon athletes. This year's “Round Up” will be at all Roth’s Salem-area grocery stores. This year the Round Up kicks off on Wednesday, July 4th, and runs through Sunday, July 22th.

A special appearance with Special Olympics Oregon Gold Medal athletes and Orville Roth will occur on July 5th at 1:30pm located at Roth’s Fresh Market (4746 Portland Rd NE Salem, OR 97305).

The Round Up fundraising promotion offers Roth’s customers the opportunity to “round up” their grocery receipts to the nearest dollar amount donating the difference to Special Olympics Oregon. “Each year our customers show strong support for Special Olympics Oregon in the local communities we serve, said Melinda Roth. “Special Olympics Oregon athletes, volunteers and coaches depend on donations to fund their life-changing sports programs. I know the Salem community will continue to show their support by participating in the Round Up as they have each year since we started the program.”

About Roth’s Fresh Markets
Owned and operated by the Roth family of Salem since 1962, the privately owned, Salem retail group has been supporting Special Olympics Oregon programs for more than 20 years. Melinda Roth, daughter of company founder Orville Roth, has volunteered as a winter sports coach for Special Olympics Oregon and each year personally spearheads the Roth’s “Round Up” campaign in the company’s stores. Her brother Michael Roth is President of the company. More information at www.roths.com

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Jul 03, 2012 •

Special Olympics Oregon is very proud of three Oregon youth who recently were awarded an honorable mention for the Lovin’ Award by Lovin’ Scoopful.  This ice cream company donates 25 percent of its post-tax profits ($50,000 minimum annually) to Special Olympics Inc.   Maria Shriver, daughter of the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the advocate and founder of Special Olympics, was one of the founders of Lovin’ Scoopful, which is available in stores in most western states. 

Ramon Camacho of Stayton High School has planned and organized many community service programs for Stayton High School, including a Project Unify Club.  He also participated in the Polar Plunge, and he participated in a leadership summit with other schools at the invitation of Special Olympics Oregon.  Ramon also has used his leadership role to implement two cultural awareness programs at Stayton High School, and he has planned, organized, and implemented the R-Word Campaign at his school.

Hayden Leahey of Portland became involved with Special Olympics two years ago when she was just nine years old. Several of her classmates have Down syndrome and other disabilities, and she had enjoyed helping them and learning with them since kindergarten.   A family friend who worked with Special Olympics was looking for some extra help, so Hayden and her mother volunteered.

“What inspires me the most is seeing the smiles on the athletes’ faces, even when they struggle, and seeing how they support each other,” Hayden said.  “They don't care as much about winning.  They just want to have fun and if they do win, it is an extra bonus."  Hayden has found support from some of the Special Olympics athletes who have reciprocated by helping Hayden improve physically in her sports. "When I am with my special friends I am very happy and my heart smiles,” Hayden said.  “Their struggles are my struggles, and their win is my win. I think everyone can learn a lot from these amazing people, and they can learn a lot about themselves, too. I am so happy to be able to give something back to them because they give me so much."

Hannah Golladay Hintz of Forest Grove, the third Oregon award winner, helped create a more unified school community through Partners Club and Unified Sports.  As the president of Partners Club she takes an important role in organizing activities throughout the school year. Recently, they hosted a Unified Basketball Tournament.  During R-Word Week she helped organize a “Unity” campaign to create greater awareness and unity at her school. Hannah also he takes an active role in Unified Sports, volunteering as a coach.


Jun 29, 2012 •

Wearing brand-new Adidas soccer cleats and shin guards purchased just a few hours earlier at the Adidas employee store, Special Olympics Oregon athletes and identical twins Jason and Justin Simmons tested their soccer skills at the 2012 Special Olympics Oregon Soccer Festival, held in June at Adidas Village in Portland. 

“It’s fantastic that Adidas would open their facilities to everyone today,” said their dad, Roger Simmons.  “They (the twins) were very excited today.   They’re normally very shy, but you bring them out here with the other athletes, and they are not.”

Jason and Justin were among an enthusiastic group of soccer fans from Oregon and Washington who were treated to a youth soccer clinic conducted by Portland Timbers ambassadors and Timbers academy coaches, a special appearance by Portland Timbers mascot Timber Joey, several Timbers players and Adidas staff, an opportunity to sign a pledge to not use the R-Word, food carts, raffles, a soccer tent sale, and 50 percent off all items at the Adidas employee store.  Five percent of the sales benefitted Special Olympics Oregon. 

The Special Olympics Cascadia Challenge was a five-versus-five match between Special Olympics Portland Timbers (players from Forest Grove High School) vs. Special Olympics Washington Sounders.  The players’ uniforms matched those of the professional teams.  The Sounders won the match 5-3, and the two teams will compete again in Seattle in the fall. 

Jill Hertel, a special education teacher from Forest Grove High School, was one of the coaches for the Timbers.  “They were really nervous about being here, and I was really proud of them.  They never gave up,” she said. 

The soccer festival ended with the Rose City Unity Match, a seven-versus-seven exhibition game that featured two teams of Special Olympics athletes playing alongside guest teammates including Timbers staff and ambassadors and Adidas staff.  Timber Joey coached the Green Team, which tied the White Team five to five. 

“It went as well as we dreamt and expected a festival could go in its first year,” said Mark Hanken, Senior Vice President of Sports at Special Olympics Oregon.  “Today showed how a sport can be inclusive and bonding.  The fans helped us make a difference in the lives of these athletes.”  

Eat at Applebee's, "Tip-A-Cop" and Support Special Olympics Oregon

Jun 14, 2012 •

On Thursday, June 14th, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., local law enforcement officers and department personnel will trade in their handcuffs and badges for aprons and menus to earn tips at Oregon  Applebee’s Restaurants for Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR).  During the event, law enforcement personnel will act as “Celebrity Waiters” collecting tips from restaurant guests.  The goal of this year’s “Tip-A-Cop” fundraising event is $25,000. 

“Tip-A-Cop” is an official Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) fundraising event.  The Oregon LETR Campaign is a series of special events and torch relay runs organized by off duty law enforcement representatives to raise money and public awareness for Special Olympics and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for local Special Olympics athletes. Over 1,000 individuals including, chiefs, sheriffs, officers, sheriffs, deputies, agents and other law enforcement personnel from virtually every branch of federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement, representing over 80 different agencies participate.

“On behalf of Special Olympics Oregon, we would like to thank local law enforcement and Applebee’s for their great support,” said Margie Hunt, CEO of Special Olympics Oregon.  “Efforts like these make it possible for us to continue to provide our athletes with high-quality sports training programs and competition at no cost to them or their families.”

This year’s “Tip-A-Cop” event will take place at (Albany, Beaverton, Corvallis, Gresham, Halsey/Gateway, Lake Oswego, Lancaster Mall, Lloyd Center, North Salem, Roseburg, South Salem, Bend, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls and Medford) Applebee’s locations in Oregon. To find the location nearest to you, visit www.applebees.com. 

Sutherlin Man Runs 45 Miles for SOOR

Jun 13, 2012 •

Shawn Erickson celebrated his 45th birthday by running 45 miles and raising more than $1,800 for the Sutherlin chapter of Special Olympics Oregon and Project Unify.  Below is his inspirational story.

 I got the idea when I read about a celebrity who on his 35th birthday ran 35 miles to earn donations for "Got Your Back Network," which is an organization that helps families of fallen soldiers.  I thought, "I can do that." 

I have been running six to 12 miles a week for the last few years to stay in shape.  I looked online and found an ultra-marathon training program that fit my schedule.  I started training in February by running in the dark as early as 4:30 a.m. so I would have time to get ready for work.  My schedule was Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, six, 10 and eight miles, Saturdays 24 to 26 miles and 10 to 12 miles on Sundays.  I would do that for two weeks then have an easy week, and then start over.  I ran more than 500 miles training for the run and had to take time off for a couple of injuries. 

My wife, Pam, son, Lucas, and daughter, Carissa, are involved with Special Olympics Oregon and Project Unify.  So, I decided my run would be a fundraiser for Sutherlin Partners Club.  I created an event page on Facebook entitled "45 For 45" and challenged friends and family to match my donation of $45, a dollar for every mile.

I only was able to sleep for an hour or so the night before because I was so nervous.  I started early on May 19, and I figured it would take me 10 hours.  My wife was my support team and helped me stay fueled up and hydrated.  I started out running for 10 minutes and walking for five.  I bumped it up to running for 20 and walking for five since I was feeling really good.  There were three hills, and I decided ahead of time that I would walk them.  I decided early on that I would stop at 25 miles to eat and to take care of my feet, but once I hit 25 miles I started to realize I could do this in eight hours.  So, I didn't stop, and I started to run faster and skip my walking breaks.  I got really emotional a few times toward the end thinking about why I was running and that I would succeed.  The last leg of the run was one lap around the track at the High School where I was greeted by family and friends.  The one-quarter mile lap at the track was actually the hardest part of the run.

I completed the run in eight hours.  I ended up actually running 47 miles because of a few mistakes on the route.   So far the run has generated more than $1,800, and if all the donations that were pledged come in, the total will be much higher.

I am so humbled and touched by all the well wishes and donations that were received.  All I did was run around for a day.  My friends and family dug into their pockets and donated to Sutherlin Partners Club, a group of Project Unify.

This year I also was invited to co-coach adult Special Olympics Oregon track with Emily McKay.

Every time I attend a Special Olympics Oregon event or function I come home feeling like I just had the best day of my life!

This article was written by Shawn Erickson, who turned 45 on May 21.

One Volunteer's Story About Special Olympics India

Jun 05, 2012 • Volunteers

One of the benefits of being a global organization in more than 170 countries is that Special Olympics Oregon has some volunteers with international experience.  Regional trainer Avtar Singh gives us a peek at what Special Olympics is like in India. Avtar and his wife operate a training center for people with intellectual disabilities in Jamshedpur, India. They have been associated with Special Olympics for 20 years.

Special Olympics is slowly but steadily spreading its wings in developing countries.  Although Special Olympics activities have grown rapidly in southern and eastern Asia in the past, there is still a lot more to be done to match the progress made in several developed countries.

Under the leadership of Air Marshal (Rtd.) Denzil Keelor, chairman, Special Olympics Bharat (India), a remarkable boost has been provided to this program, and India has been considered a priority nation due to significant quantitative and qualitative growth in this region.  Special Olympics activities are ongoing in almost all the Indian states for nearly a million athletes with the assistance of approximately 6,500 coaches and another 55,000 volunteers, affecting hundreds of thousands of families across the nation.

The game of cricket grips the Indian sub-continent in a frenzy, and it has become extremely popular with the Special Olympics athletes in this part of the world with the introduction of this sport in the Asia Pacific Region. Special Olympics Bharat also acknowledges the global nature and need for this establishment, and as a result, our athletes also actively participate in the Healthy Athlete program, EKS Day, World Disability Day, and other global programs.

Although these numbers do show some solid progress, there are cultural, social, economical, racial, and geographical challenges encountered at every level, which would almost be alien to the developed world.  It’s a challenge to branch out from metopolitan areas to remote areas where illiteracy and ignorance (often due to religious or social reasons) often overwhelms hope and support for Special Olympics athletes. Convincing parents of female athletes, providing good sports facilities in the remote villages, inadequate education, entry into unsafe areas, and a lack of infrastructure are some of the major problems that Special Olympics Bharat faces fairly frequently.

"We have overcome numerous challenges to support these athletes at our training center in Jamshedpur, India. Some of these gifted individuals have won accolades both nationally and internationally, bringing delight to their families."

(This article was written by Avtar Singh.)

Jackson County Special Olympics Oregon Athlete Qualifies for U.S. Paralympic Team Trials

Jun 03, 2012 • Local Programs

For the first time since the 2000 Paralympics games individuals with intellectual disabilities will be included in the event. 

Sara Slawta, 19, of Talent, Ore., has qualified to swim in three events at the 2012 U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials, to be held June 14 to 16 at Bismarck State College Aquatic and Wellness Center in Bismarck, N.D.  Members of the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Team who will compete at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London this summer will be selected at the Trials.

Sara, a former member of the Phoenix High School Swim Team, competed at the ninth annual GTAC Disability Open Meet on May 19 to 20 at the University of Cincinnati, Keating Natatorium.  More than 175 swimmers from 15 nations competed in preparation for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. 

Sara achieved qualifying times for the U.S Paralympic Trials in the 200m freestyle (2:58.45) the 100m breaststroke(1:53.04) and the 100m backstroke (1:41.66).  She was the top American finisher in all three events, swimming her personal best times in each event.  She also swam personal best times in the 200m individual medley, the 100m freestyle, and the 50m breaststroke, events not being contested in her competition category in the 2012 London Games. Sara, a Special Olympics Oregon champion, trains five days a week at the Southern Oregon University pool and the Ashland YMCA, and her major goal is to make the 2012 U.S. Paralympics Swim Team for the London Paralympic Games.

Sponsored by the Greater Toledo Athletic Club, the GTAC Open is a qualifying meet before the 2012 Paralympics in London.  Times posted here can be used to qualify for national teams or for the national Paralympic trials.

"This was Sara’s introduction to international competition, and she swam some really strong, smart races over the two days against some very tough, experienced competition," said Sara’s coach, John Weinbrecht. "She’s on track for some outstanding performances at the U.S. Paralympic Trials."

The GTAC meet was created to encourage swimmers with disabilities to compete in the Paralympic movement. Competition is very keen, and many swimmers who started out at the GTAC meet have gone on to join their countries' elite swimming ranks.  Athletes are classified based on their abilities. Doctors and trainers evaluate the athletes based on their range of motion and other factors to determine at which level they should compete.

The 2012 Youth Rally at Hillsboro High School

May 02, 2012 • R-Word Campaign

On Saturday, April 21st over 100 youth with and without intellectual disabilities from 10 different schools attended a student-led Youth Rally at Hillsboro High School to raise awareness about inclusion and to promote the R-Word Campaign.

The rally was organized and produced by 16 year-old Hillsboro High School student Jori Halpern as part of her senior project, along with the help of Special Olympics Oregon staff. Last year Halpern attended the Youth Rally at Grant High School that Special Olympics Oregon hosted and was so inspired by the event that she decided to organize one at her own school. By hosting the rally, Halpern’s goal was to break down barriers between students with and without disabilities in order to create a more accepting society.

During the first half of the rally students had the opportunity to participate in various activity booths that promoted inclusion, acceptance, respect and sports. Some the activities included creating your own R-Word shirt, signing the R-Word pledge, making friendship bracelets, and a basketball shoot-out that was hosted by Hillsboro Unified basketball youth participants.

The second portion of the event brought everyone together for an assembly styled rally. Since the weather was almost 75 degrees, they decided to have it at their outdoor commons area instead of in the gym. Guest speakers took the stage to share their stories and entertain the crowd. Twin brothers Joseph and Jonathan Jackson told their story about one of them being born with down syndrome and the other without and their involvement in participating in Special Olympics basketball together. Next, Forest Grove High School students Chris Sullivan and Skylar Sharp shared their experience about travelling to the 2012 Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece and representing Project UNIFY at the Global Youth Activation Summit. A Hillsboro Unified partner and athlete then spoke about their involvement in Unified sports and the impact that it’s had in their lives. The rally ended with an exciting performance by local musical artist Cam Lasley, who performed four songs and got the crowd up on their feet and dancing!

Special Olympics Oregon Winter State Games

Mar 13, 2012 •

Presented by Les Schwab Tire Centers

Special Olympics Oregon Winter State Games - Snow Sports at Mt. Bachelor was presented by Les Schwab Tire Centers and took place on Friday, March 9th through Sunday, 11th. Athletes came from all over Oregon and were on the mountain for two days of competition in the sports of alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

In addition to the competition, games ceremonies and a dance took place Saturday evening at Summit HS in Bend as part of the weekend’s events.

Mt. Bachelor has hosted Special Olympics Oregon competition for over 25 years. “Special Olympics Oregon looks forward to the annual snow sports competition at Mt. Bachelor,” explains Mark Hanken, Sr. Vice President of Sports. “Everyone in the Bend community is so supportive and we are proud that our athletes get to showcase their skills at a high quality venue.”

Over a hundred volunteers helped made Winter State Games - Snow Sports happen at Mt. Bachelor. These volunteers donate their time as coaches, course monitors, officials, and other positions. In addition to event volunteers, there are volunteers organizing Special Olympics Oregon local programs across the state, doing everything from athlete recruitment and training to fundraising and promotion.

Find all the photos from Winter State Games on Special Olympics Oregon’s Facebook Page.

"Camp PU" Brings learning and fun to Project UNIFY planning

Mar 12, 2012 •

PORTLAND - If you’ve ever visited Portland in the winter, you know that it isn't ideal campingweather. That's why Special Olympics Oregon brought the camping theme inside for "Camp PU," a three-day Regional Project UNIFYConference held in February.Special education teachers, school administrators and students visited Portland from tenstates, including Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas,Utah , Washington, and Wisconsin. Brainstormingideas, networking and devising Project Unify strategies--with camping-themed activities and state cheers thrown into the mix—were all part of a goal of increasing the awareness and effectiveness of Project Unify across the country.

Representatives from Texas, where 135 schools have Project Unify programs, urged the group to let schools be creative and to give students a big role. "When the youth are given the lead, that's when things happen," said Martha Dorow, the Project UNIFY coordinator of Special Olympics Texas. Texas schools have Unified Quidditch, kickball, cheerleading, homecoming parade floats, Unified talent show acts, and even Zumba classes. She urged the group to start at the middle-school level and build programming into existing school events and traditions. Texas now has 55 percent of its middle schools involved in Project Unify, she said.

Using social media to build inclusive student leadership was one of the topics. Special Olympics Oregon staff demonstrated how Facebook, YouTube Videos and Twitter are powerful tools "to get the message out," they said. As a demonstration, they took a short video of the group and uploaded it to the Special Olympics Oregon Facebook page. If anyone in the group "liked" the video on Facebook by the next day, they would be eligible to win a Nike bag full of Nike products. Naman Shah, a junior at North Canyon High School in Phoenix, was the lucky winner.

Seventeen-year-old Shah was part of a group of six from Arizona, including two students, who attended the conference. In his role as student body president, he introduced Project Unify to his school and helped plan an "R-Word Week" in March as well as a Unified track program. He also plans to run short-distance events as a Unified athlete this spring.

"I was blown away from this experience," he said. "Just hearing what other states do, I feel more optimistic about what we can do. It’s been really fun." He said that Special Olympics Oregon gave him a lot of ideas about seeking sponsorships. "It's worth asking," he said.

"I'm so excited, and I can't wait to get back home. It's given us a lot to think about," said Cinda Milan, a special education supervisor for a 10-county area in Indiana. "In our district, we do not have Special Olympics (activities) going on during the school day. It's a concept I'd like to go back and explore." She mentioned Adaptive P.E. as one idea that she would like to bring to her state.

The conference was the first of four Project Unify regional workshops around the country, according to Sarah Wright, Manager of Youth Initiatives for Project Unify at Special Olympics Inc. in Washington, D.C. "We started planning in October 2011. The goal was to network and share ideas and find out what others did. I think it went very well; we had a great balance of content and fun."

Reaching New Heights

Nov 06, 2011 • LETR

In every community there are those who go above and beyond their call of duty to support those in need and provide people with an opportunity to reach new heights. For the past 30 years, since Chief Richard LaMunyon Founder of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) and the five other officers who joined him in carrying the first torch into the Summer Games in Witchita, Kansas, Law Enforcement officers have been the Guardians of the Flame for Special Olympics. But for those not involved with LETR, what does that mean?

“As police officers, our job is to protect and serve, as Guardians of the Flame we protect the athletes. Not only do we give but we also receive more than we give.” Carl Dabadie, from the Baton Rouge Police Department said.

LETR has developed into more than an annual run for Special Olympic Summer Games. For the many involved with LETR it represents honor, respect and pride.  LETR is the largest grassroots partnership that Special Olympics has. With more than 85,000 law enforcement individuals around the world, they have raised more than $42 million dollars for Special Olympics athletes this year and have raised over $400 million since the Torch Run’s inception.

But why do almost 100,000 officers around the world jump into frigid bodies of water in February, put on aprons and collect tips at local restaurants or even pull 150-ton trains?

“We do these things to help make sure Special Olympics athletes around the world have the opportunity to participate in sporting events that not only show them how to win at that sport but how to win at life.”  Ann Rakosi, Communication Supervisor for Coos County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon said. “This is the best feel good thing I have ever done.”

Almost 1000 Law Enforcement officers gathered to attend this year’s LETR International Conference in Calgary, Canada. “Seeing everyone that is united for a common goal really lends some credibility to your mission.” Police Officer Mark Wiesemann, of the Lee’s Summit, Missouri Police Department said. “This is a major support system and we are doing things here that will allow us to grow our program (LETR) throughout the world.”

This year’s LETR International Conference highlighted LETR programs around the globe, showcased how much money was raised for local programs, honored law enforcement heroes and heard first hand from athletes why Special Olympics has enriched their lives for them and their family.

“To know there are people supporting us and inspiring us, it is truly remarkable. We, the athletes, are always fighting to know there are people supporting us and trying to integrate us into what they do. I want to thank LETR from the bottom of my heart for all they do for us” Mathew Williams, Special Olympics British Columbia athlete and Sargent Shriver Global Messenger said.

“Just come to one event. First 15 minutes you are there, it will change your life and there is no going back” Rakosi says. “I have been doing this for 6 years and I will do this as long as I can push my walker around when I am 100.”

Learn more about how to get involved with LETR in your area
Learn more about Special Olympics Oregon
See the photos from the LETR International Conference in Calgary

2011 Governors' Gold Award

Oct 28, 2011 •

This year, the Governors of Oregon – Governor Kitzhaber, Governor Kulongoski, Governor Roberts and Governor Atiyeh – gathered together to host a very special event: The Governors’ Gold Awards, presented by Aequitas Capital Management. With an audience of nearly 1,000 corporate and civic leaders, the annual, high profile, corporate and community, invitation-only dinner event provided a unique opportunity for the Governors to pay tribute to individuals, companies, organizations, and communities that have contributed to the greatness of Oregon. Presented in partnership with and as a benefit for Special Olympics Oregon, the evening was always an inspirational experience.

2011 Project UNIFY Oregon Youth Leadership Summit

Oct 27, 2011 • Project UNIFY Oregon, Inspirational videos, R Word, Polar Plunge

BEAVERTON, OR –On a beautiful October day change was in the air both outside and inside the Tiger Woods Center at NIKE World Headquarters. More than 400 high school and middle school students representing 10 Oregon schools gathered for the 2011 Youth Leadership Summit to share ideas and enthusiasm about Project UNIFY Oregon.

Guest speakers, inspirational videos, raffle prizes, and even a text-messaging opportunity to win an I-Pod made it an exciting and inspirational gathering of student leaders.

"We have 10 percent of our student body here today," said Laurie Kash, special education director of Rainier High School. Rainier senior Angela Posch and junior Shaylyn Kinman, described the Project UNIFY Oregon activities at their school, including a unified P.E. class, an "R Word" assembly held last year, and after-school sports such as bocce ball. Their classmate Stanley Stimson was enjoying the activities: "I’m doing good," he said.

Students and teachers from six schools comprised a school panel that shared their different Project UNIFY Oregon activities, including Forest Grove High School’s Youth Rally, how McMinnville High School raised $1,700 from the play "It’s Our School, Too!" and Sherwood High School’s Breaking Down the Walls campaign and Lunch Bunch, described by one student as "a mix-it-up kind of thing."

"Last year, I participated in Polar Plunge," said a panel member from Stayton High School. "The water was freezing, but I knew that once I stepped into the water I was supporting something that I was passionate about. I have personally witnessed in our school hallways other students stopping from using the R Word."

Chris Crawford, National Sales Director for Team at Nike, shared his insights on working through challenges and how the Nike culture promotes acceptance and inclusion.

Bill and Peggy Self of Portland told of their son Brendon’s athletic achievements through his participation at Grant High School and Special Olympics. Brendon proudly wore his varsity letter jacket from Grant. Brendon, who also is an Eagle Scout, together with his family has raised funds to support a special-needs school in Kenya called the Ndohivyo Project.

Melissa Bowerman, who is the daughter-in-law of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, volunteers with her husband, Jon, as the track-and-field coach for the Condon-Wheeler track team. Two years ago, when their son wanted to run track for Condon-Wheeler, the Bowermans discovered that there was no equipment, no uniforms, no transportation…and no track. A Nike connection helped their team get all of the uniforms they needed, and now, "Over half of our students go out for track, and they’re the cool kids."

Melissa shared her own story about achieving national and world-champion archery medals, and how she worked through obstacles to achieve her dream.

"A lot of people go to a lot of trouble to inspire you, but nobody tells you what do next. I’m going to give you the secret formula on how to get what you want." She then encouraged the students to write down their plans: "It’s a contract with yourself, and it’s real important."

Emely Garcia and Bianca Maldonado of Southridge High School were attending the conference for the first year. They were part of a group of 25 students seeking ideas to start Project UNIFY Oregon activities. "At our school people are stuck into dances, and we want to do something better," said Emely, explaining that special-needs students are not included in activities or lunchtime groups at Southridge. The girls plan to take ideas from the conference, especially Polar Plunge, to their leadership class.

"It was fantastic," said Matt Parish, special education teacher from Sutherlin High School, who was part of a group of 24 students and teachers. "We have a lot of new students in our Partners Club, and this was a very well-organized day."

Check out all the PHOTOS on our FACEBOOK page.

Congratulations to Special Olympics Oregon Coach, Doug Trice

Sep 26, 2011 •

Special Olympics Oregon is pleased to announce that Doug Trice is a recipient of this year’s NRTA With Our Youth! Excellence Award. Award recipients were chosen for outstanding service to youth in the state, local and individual categories by an independent selection panel. Mr. Trice received one of three Excellence Awards in the individual category.

Doug Trice developed a year-round athletic program for youth with intellectual disabilities used at local, state and national levels. Even while holding a full-time job, Doug volunteers more than 25 hours per month overseeing 15 adult volunteers and 50 athletes. Some of his tasks include overseeing certification of personnel, conducting leader orientations and training sessions, recruiting volunteers and coaching. In addition, he personally donated $5,000 and has raised $8,000 for the program through various fundraisers.

About the NRTA With Our Youth! Program

The NRTA With Our Youth! Program is committed to learning, voluntary service and civic participation. For the first three years of the program, NTRA made a pledge to serve 1.5 million youth in 2,000 communities with a total of 45 million service hours through its affiliated state retired educators associations (REAs). The goal was met and exceeded.

About NRTA

Founded in 1947 by retired educator Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community is a division of AARP. NRTA is the largest national organization that represents the interests of 50+ educators, with a membership of more than one-million active and retired higher-ed and K-12 educators and school personnel at the local, state and national level. NRTA members are dedicated to continuous educational opportunity, advocacy, and service as a means of safeguarding the economic security, work opportunities, and future well-being of all generations. Visit NRTA’s Website at www.aarp.org/nrta for more information.

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. AARP has offices throughout North and South America. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors.

Oregon To Celebrate EKS Day

Sep 20, 2011 •

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, to be remembered with a day of sports and inclusion

Portland, OR – On Saturday, September 24, 2011, the whole state of Oregon will participate in EKS Day, a worldwide celebration in memory of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics movement and a leading international advocate for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities. EKS Day is a global call challenging everyone to “Play Unified to Live Unified” because Mrs. Shriver taught us that on the playing field, we forget about our differences and recognize our mutual humanity. Across the globe, people are demonstrating Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s enduring vision by calling upon athletes, families and friends to come together in a day of inclusive sport and play.

In proclaiming EKS Day throughout the world Timothy Shriver, CEO and President of Special Olympics said, "Today, on the second annual global Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day, our movement comes together on playing fields all around the world and we invite everyone to join in by playing unified. Just as my mother tackled injustice with sport, community and friendship, so too are we using these tools to spread a powerful message about the dignity that belongs to every person, regardless of her or his ability."

EKS Day will be celebrated with a number of sports-related activities involving both people with and without intellectual disabilities, including:

For more information, visit http://www.eksday.org/ or http://www.soor.org/.

Eat at Applebee's and Support Special Olympics Oregon

Sep 12, 2011 •

OREGON – On Thursday, September 22nd, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., local law enforcement officers and department personnel will trade in their handcuffs and badges for aprons and menus to earn tips at all Oregon Applebee’s Restaurants for Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR). During the event, law enforcement personnel will act as “Celebrity Waiters” collecting tips from restaurant guests. The goal of this year’s “Tip-A-Cop” fundraising event is $30,000.

“Tip-A-Cop” is an official Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) fundraising event. The Oregon LETR Campaign is a series of special events and torch relay runs organized by off duty law enforcement representatives to raise money and public awareness for Special Olympics and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for local Special Olympics athletes. Over 1,000 individuals including, chiefs, sheriffs, officers, sheriffs, deputies, agents and other law enforcement personnel from virtually every branch of federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement, representing over 80 different agencies participate.

“On behalf of Special Olympics Oregon, we would like to thank local law enforcement and Applebee’s for their great support,” said Margie Hunt, CEO of Special Olympics Oregon. “Efforts like these make it possible for us to continue to provide our athletes with high-quality sports training programs and competition at no cost to them or their families.”This year’s “Tip-A-Cop” event will take place at 21 Applebee’s locations in Oregon. To find the location nearest to you, visit http://www.applebees.com/. For more information on the “Tip-A-Cop” event please visit the Special Olympics Oregon website at http://www.soor.org/.

Portland2Portland, a Coast to Coast Ride for Special Olympics Oregon

Sep 09, 2011 •

Last summer I rode my bicycle from Canada to Manzanita Oregon, only 400 miles but my longest ride to date. Soon thereafter, I began thinking about riding from coast to coast. I was intrigued by the challenge and the adventure of such a ride. With that in mind I began serious training--riding every day—coastal rain, sleet, hail, and occasional sun.

By late winter I finally made the fateful decision to make the ride from Portland Oregon to Portland Maine. My first step was to find someone to make the ride with me. I asked everyone I know and many whom I didn’t know if they would like to make the trip with me. The common response was “Sounds great, but no thank you,” or, similar words. Early in the spring; a friend of many years, Dave Moss, offered to drive as support. (Commonly called SAG—short for “support and gear”) Quickly I accepted and the planning began.

Question #1: Can we use the trip to raise money for an important cause?
Answer: Let’s approach Special Olympics Oregon.

With the help of Kelly Coates of Special Olympics Oregon, we put together a fund raising site, and a blog site to document the trip. Next we selected a route, planned a schedule, a fundraising strategy and literature. I decided to cycle the “northern tier states” essentially following US Route 2. After riding up the Columbia River Gorge and a stop in the sumptuous wine region of Walla Walla, Washington, I joined Route 2 in Spokane and traversed the Idaho panhandle, then across the Rocky Mountains at Glacier National Park. After the grueling climb, things improved as I rode downhill and across the vast Great Plains of Montana and North Dakota, through Minnesota and Wisconsin, and into the Northern Peninsula of Michigan.

Route 2 takes a hiatus for a bit, so I crossed into Canada at Sault Ste. Marie, re-emerging at the northern tip of Lake Champlain. There I rejoined Route 2 in time to struggle with the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire before the final segment to the Atlantic coast at Portland, Maine, 3400 miles from the starting point. Dave created a great informational brochure and we put together of all our camping equipment, maps, schedules, supplies, etc. Dave also contacted every small-town media source hoping that we could get some news coverage about our trip and Special Olympics.

Up front I want to recognize a special someone in my life who has a lot to do with this long ride and my commitment to raise as much money as possible for the Special Olympics organization. This special person is known as Lauren. I met Lauren a few years ago and immediately we became friends. Lauren is a niece of a close friend and a Special Olympian from Nebraska. Lauren has been an inspiration to me from the very beginning and is a constant reminder to me that there is nothing that I can’t take on. I may not succeed, but the most important thing is an attitude of the possible.

As Special Olympic Oregon Athletes would say, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” This trip has been ripe with exposure and experiences regarding the people who work with the Olympians, others who support the Special Olympics activities; and, most importantly, the athletes themselves. Long before I even thought of the long bike ride, I had an opportunity to watch Lauren compete in a Nebraskan Special Olympics equestrian event. Lauren walked with pride as she shared her medals and awards. I walked away with a commitment to do whatever I can to further the efforts of the Special Olympics organization. I find it difficult to express in writing how personally satisfying and rewarding this ride became. Over and over people gave of themselves to make this trip successful, growth provoking, and life affirming.

People, now new friends, opened their homes to us for a comfortable night’s sleep, fine food, and wonderful conversation. Almost on a daily basis people donated what they could to the Special Olympics. The donations ranged from the teenager who gave all of the change he had in his pocket, to the custodian working at a middle school on an Indian reservation in Montana who gave every dollar he had in his wallet, to the couple who I met having stopped to asked directions--they donated $100. Nearly everyone we met had a story to tell of a family member, a relative, a friend, or a neighbor with special needs. Many, probably most, would talk about how important the Special Olympics organization and activities are to those who are involved. Dave’s effort to contact media sources paid dividends in the form of news articles as we crossed the country. Reporters would meet us for brief interviews on our schedule. For instance, Darlene Sawyer in Bagley Minnesota offered us breakfast at the local café. Unbeknownst by us she had invited a group of Special Olympians to join us. They all arrived with medals around their necks from a recent competition. One among them was a man of 75 who was proud that he also rode a bicycle and was “in the Hall of Fame in Washington.”

That is just one of the many examples of how Special Olympics’ events cause people, of all ages, to walk proud. These Special Olympians had taken a break from their work at the local thrift store. Their stories caused me to realize in a very personal way how important it is that we each have an opportunity to be engaged in productive and beneficial work. I quickly reflected on how I felt when I as a 5th grader delivering newspapers, as a high school student pumping gas, as a college student working as a school custodian, as beginning teacher, and as a founder and executive director of a large not-for-profit education firm; and now, once again, as a humble potter on the Oregon coast. We all deserve the opportunity to walk proud having contributed in the form of productive effort. Another high point in the trip was an opportunity to meet numerous Special Olympians in Traverse City Michigan. Again the result of Dave’s pre-ride efforts, the Special Olympics Organization in Michigan arranged for me to ride in the National Cherry Festival Parade in Traverse City.

I rode my bike, Dave drove the decorated truck, and we were followed by 35+ Special Olympians who rode bikes or walked. The day before the parade, a middle-aged lady talked with great pride that she was going to be in the parade. As we passed thousands of people on the parade route, people applauded the Special Olympians. To a person they walked or rode with pride and smiles on their faces. To this day, they talk about their experience in the parade. The organizers had also arranged for me to be interviewed live in studio for radio and TV news (not my favorite thing to do). However, it created more visibility for Special Olympics’ events and efforts. Memories of this adventure will be with me for the rest of my life. Prior to leaving Portland Oregon I was looking forward to the adventure, the challenge, and the opportunity to contribute in a small way to the future success of the Special Olympics.

Never did I imagine how enriching our association with Special Olympics Atheltes would be for Dave and me. In retrospect, it is clear that the Special Olympians and the numerous people associated with them have influenced and enriched my life to a much greater degree than I could ever hope to influence theirs. Much was shared through the blog about our wonderful experiences---the people we met top the list of wonders. However, not enough had been shared about the quality, integrity, and dedication of my friend, Dave Moss. His commitment and effort associated with my success has been there at every turn. All I needed to do was ride my bike. Dave was constantly looking out for my well being. When road or weather conditions were bad, he was always near by. When it was time for nourishment, I knew that he was just up the road a bit ready with either a small café or a picnic lunch under a shade tree or off the tail gate of the truck. At the end of the day he would ride ahead in search of camp sites or motels when weather was at its worst. If we were camping; he would prepare, hot well-balanced, and tasty dinners.

The wine was often open and breathing before I had completed erecting my tent. Each breakfast was preceded by a cup of French press coffee. On the days that required that I be on the road particularly early, he would break camp and follow me after the tents were dry and stored. There is no way that I can adequately express my appreciation for his support on this trek across country. Other cyclists were envious of my SAG driver.

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