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2018 July Volunteer Spotlight

Jul 13, 2018 •

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

2018 June Athlete/Volunteer Spotlight

Jun 06, 2018 •

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

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

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

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

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

2018 May Volunteer Spotlight

May 04, 2018 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

2018 April Volunteer Spotlight

Mar 29, 2018 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Paul Harvey (Susie's husband)

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

-Janet Capetty

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

-Adam Kau

2018 April Athlete Spotlight

Mar 29, 2018 •

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

2018 February Athlete & Volunteer Spotlight

Feb 02, 2018 •

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 January Volunteer Spotlight

Jan 03, 2018 •

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

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

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

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

2018 January Athlete Spotlight

Jan 03, 2018 •

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

- Alexi Shean, Head Volleyball Coach

2017 September Volunteer Spotlight

Sep 19, 2017 •

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

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

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

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

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

2017 September Athlete Spotlight

Sep 19, 2017 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017 August Athlete Spotlight

Aug 14, 2017 •

August 2017 Athlete Spotlight: Bryce Moore, Josephine County

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

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

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

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

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

2017 August Volunteer Spotlight

Aug 09, 2017 •

August 2017 Volunteer Spotlight: Paula Moe, Baker County

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer 2017 Les Schwab Pride In Performance Awardees

Jul 13, 2017 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

May 09, 2017 •

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

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

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

May Volunteer Spotlight

May 09, 2017 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

May Participant Spotlight

May 09, 2017 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017 Global Business Awards Luncheon

Apr 20, 2017 •

For more information, please call us at 503.248.0600

Winter Indoor Sports Les Schwab Pride In Performance Awards

Apr 11, 2017 •

Winter Indoor Les Schwab Pride In Performace Awards

Athlete Awardee: Andrea Eiden, Hermiston-Pendleton Local Program

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

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

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

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

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


Volunteer Awardee: Pam Boston, Josephine County Local 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unified Sports makes lasting impact on West Albany student

Apr 11, 2017 •

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special Olympics Oregon Athlete Super Plungers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Games Les Schwab Pride In Performance Award Winners

Mar 13, 2017 •

Winter Games Les Schwab Pride In Performance Award Winners

Volunteer Award Winner: Terry Cannon, Hood River Local Program

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

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

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

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

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


Athlete Award Winner: Jayme Fummerton

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

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

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

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

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


Special Olympics Oregon World Winter Games Austria 2017 Delegation

Mar 01, 2017 •

World Games 2017, Austria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information about these games can be found at


February Volunteer Spotlight

Feb 21, 2017 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

February Athlete Spotlight

Feb 21, 2017 •

Robin Cassidy, Polk County Local Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January Volunteer Spotlight: Amy Nickell

Jan 16, 2017 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January Athlete Spotlight: Grace Almgren

Jan 16, 2017 •

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 09, 2017 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
Español: 1-855-DEJELO-YA (1-855-335356-92),
TTY: 1-877-777-6534

2016 Fall Les Schwab Pride In Performance Athlete and Volunteer Awardees

Nov 02, 2016 •

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

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


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

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

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

Nov 02, 2016 •

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

2016 Youth Games Presented by Nike

Nov 02, 2016 •



Burgerville supports Special Olympics Oregon this October

Oct 18, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

Oct 14, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

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

October Athlete Spotlight: Jordan Allen, Lincoln County

Oct 10, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

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


Sep 22, 2016 •



- Nike to Donate $200,000 to Special Olympics Oregon to Support Unified Champion High Schools Throughout the State of Oregon -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONTACTS: Torre Chisholm
Special Olympics Oregon
Office: (503) 248-0600
Cell: (503) 866-0226

Dawn Myrah 
Weinstein PR for Nike
Cell: (503) 757-7487

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

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

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

September Athlete Spotlight: Kevin Zwart, Marion County

Sep 19, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September Volunteer Spotlight: Ellen Courtney,

Sep 19, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 08, 2016 • governors gold awards

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

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

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

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

For more information on Governors’ Gold Awards, please visit

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

Corvallis to host 2017 Summer State Games

Aug 10, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August Athlete Spotlight: Robert Farmer of Linn County

Aug 02, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

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

August Volunteer Spotlight: Angie Schmidling

Aug 01, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jul 21, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

To learn more about the SO Unified Sports 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Experience visit:


2016 Special Olympics Cascadia Championship Series

Jul 18, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

Unified Sports®

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

About the Special Olympics Cascadia Challenge Series

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

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

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

Jun 22, 2016 •

Pride In Performance Athlete Award

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

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

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

Pride in Performance Volunteer Award

Carmen Dowell is this year's Pride In Performance Volunteer 

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

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


Ken Davis Unsung Hero Award

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

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

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

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


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

Jun 16, 2016 •

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

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

June Athlete Spotlight: Daniel Abbott

Jun 08, 2016 •

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

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

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

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

Jun 07, 2016 •

Captain Chris Bolek has been with Newberg-Dundee Police Department for over 30 years and involved with Oregon Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) since it began in 1986. He has run the Torch several times throughout the years and has been involved in other LETR events as well.

Most recently, he has been instrumental in assisting with the Special Olympics Oregon Summer State Games at Newberg High School. Chris and his son have made it a family affair by volunteering every year to help with set-up, parking, traffic control, and teardown. His hard work and dedication to these tasks help the Summer State Games go smooth every year! Chris’s favorite volunteering memories are watching his son selflessly give back by volunteering and also seeing the happiness that Special Olympics Oregon brings to the athletes that compete year round.

Chris believes that people should help those in their community, in big or small ways, whenever possible. He says “it’s good for ones soul”.  It is evident that Chris puts his heart and soul into volunteering and we are so happy that he has chosen to be a part of Special Olympics Oregon and Law Enforcement Torch Run!

Re-enroll Your Fred Meyer Rewards Card & Support SOOR When You Shop!

Jun 03, 2016 •

Here’s how to re-enroll:

• Relink your card to our Community Rewards program through an email
sent to all customers on June 8th OR by logging on to your account at

• Every time you shop and use your Rewards Card you continue to help us
earn a donation!

• Remember, you still earn your Rewards Points, Fuel Points, and Rebates.

• For more information about Fred Meyer Community Rewards Customer
Re-enrollment, please visit

2016 Global Business Awards

May 18, 2016 •

The 2016 Global Business Awards luncheon will be held on June 8th.

Please join us as we recognize Oregon's outstanding individuals in business and honor the legacy of past Oregon civic and business leaders.

 The luncheon will be held from 12pm to 1:30pm at the Portland Hilton.

For more information please contact Serge D'Rovencourt at 503.224.4193.


Summer Season Volunteer Opportunities!

May 09, 2016 • Volunteer

Summer Season is filled with a variety of engaging Day of Event Volunteer Opportunities.

  • Get up close to the action at a regional sports competition in June or Summer State Games in July.
  • Have fun helping at a special event - Rip City 3 on 3 in July or the Bite of Oregon in August.
  • There are generally two volunteer shifts each day - morning and afternoon - 3 - 5 hours in length.
  • We will have key volunteers provide training and support during your shift!

To Sign up: Visit or email:

May Volunteer Spotlight

May 09, 2016 • Volunteer, unified sports

Volunteer Spotlight: Robert Tadjiki

Robert Tadjiki became familiar with Special Olympics when he started his teaching career in Illinois and was in awe of the opportunities it gave to adults with intellectual disabilities.  When he moved to Oregon in 2001 he was eager to provide the same opportunities to his students and began looking for ways for them to participate. Robert got involved with Special Olympics Oregon 8 ½ years ago when he learned about SOOR’s inclusive school-based program while working at Bend High School as a Life Skills Teacher. 

Oregon was one of the initial states to spearhead the Unified philosophy for youth and Robert wanted his students to be able to participate in this opportunity right away.  Bend High School is now in its 8th year of involvement and has one of the largest and most successful Unified School programs in the state, much of which is due to Robert’s incredible passion and determination to sustain such vital programming for his students.

The culture and mission of Special Olympics Oregon has become a very big part of Robert’s teaching and coaching approach.  “I use the Special Olympics Oath which is posted in my classroom – ‘Let me win, But if I cannot win, Let me be brave in the attempt.’  This statement rings so true because you are never going to always win, but it is the effort and collective desire to do ones best that rings true for athletes and unified partners.  They buy into it and try their best each time they compete,” says Tadjiki.

A favorite Special Olympics Oregon memory that Robert has is from a Unified Spring Soccer tournament two years ago.  His students really wanted to play soccer and they went up against school teams from the Portland area.  “The action was so intense and the competition so level – it was truly impressive,” says Tadjiki.  This past fall Robert’s students also hosted an informational clinic to educate other schools in Central Oregon.  “We were able to personally recruit Sisters High School and we have organized basketball and softball games against them.  It has been thrilling to share the benefits of Special Olympics with more students and families!”

When asked what motivates him to stay involved with Special Olympics Oregon, Robert says that each time he goes to a tournament – win or lose, he sees the joy on the faces of his students.  “The camaraderie that is established by these young adults by being on teams is simply wonderful!”

In addition to his involvement with Special Olympics Oregon, Robert is the co-founder and a board member for Education for Chinese Orphans (EChO), which starts schools for special-needs orphans in China.  Robert and his wife Stephanie have been married for 20 years and have four children: Cyrus – 16, Jasper – 14, Maya – 13 and Ella – 10.  Outside of teaching and coaching, Robert enjoys mountain biking and cross country skiing with friends.  He also enjoys worshiping with his church regularly on Sunday’s. 

Special Olympics Oregon is privileged to have such an incredible educator, mentor and coach like Robert Tadjiki.  Thank you Robert, for being a leader and advocate for the Unified movement and for all that you do to provide meaningful opportunities to your students!

May Athlete Spotlight

May 09, 2016 • Athlete, Unifie, Project UNIFY

May Athlete Spotlight: Cameron Ray

Cameron first got involved in Special Olympics Oregon two years ago during his freshman year at Bend Senior High School when he participated in their Unified Sports program.  He participates year round in Unified soccer, Unified basketball and Unified softball.

When Cameron began he was very enthusiastic about sports, but had some growing to do in learning to be a team player.  Since then his teachers and coaches say that Cameron’s growth has been outstanding.  “When we see him at practice or on the playing field he is encouraging other players, participating in practices, and supporting his team,” said Robert Tadjiki, Life Skills Teacher and Unified Sports Coach at Bend Senior High School. 

The leadership and compassion that Cameron exhibits to his teammates is admirable.  At the Unified Basketball tournament that his team recently competed at, one of the players was very upset about missing several baskets.  Cameron took the time to go and encourage the other player to the point that the other player continued to play. 

“Cameron has come a long way from the freshman who had difficulty being a team player, to now being a tremendous asset to our teams,” said Coach Tadjiki.

We are inspired and proud to have Cameron as a Special Olympics Oregon athlete!

April Athlete Spotlight

Apr 12, 2016 • Athlete, Basketball, Softball, Special Olympics, unified sports

April Athlete Spotlight: Jeremy Blodgett, Youth Unified Program

Jeremy Blodgett has been involved with Special Olympics Oregon for 6 years, and currently is in his last year with the Youth Unified Program. He has transformed himself from a quiet, withdrawn individual to a team leader with a competitive but fun nature.  He enjoys sports but is especially fond of basketball where he led his team in scoring averaging 20 plus points per game at the regional Youth Unified Basketball tournament at Oregon State University.

According to his coaches,  “It is not that Jeremy is a ball hog but he just knows to go to the low post area where his teammates are aware that he  shoots a very high percentage.  Jeremy’s role of the go to guy at the offense end of the court has earned him the nickname “The Money Man”.

In softball Jeremy has a knack for getting on base.  Once he gets on base, he is a talented base runner and last season led the Sutherlin Blue Thunder in the number of runs scored.  He is a great teammate and friend.  He loves to cheer on his team when he is not in the game.   He is a crowd favorite because of his fun nature.

Jeremy loves playing video games and watching Jim Carey movies when he is at home with his twin brother Justin, his older brother Derick and his mom and dad. Thank you Jeremy for always having fun and playing hard.

April Volunteer Spotlight

Apr 04, 2016 • Volunteer, coach, sports

April Volunteer Spotlight: Nikki Holland, LPC from Lincoln County

For the past 7 years, SOOR has been lucky to have Nikki Holland involved as a Volunteer Local Program Coordinator (LPC), a Coach for community based teams, and a Coach for school teams in both traditional and unified sports. Nikki is an Adapted P.E. Teacher in Lincoln County, and was an athlete at OSU, so she fully understands the benefits of being involved in sports and being a part of a team.  Some of her favorite memories are of the times she has watched parents she’s known for years become emotional when they saw their son or daughter finally “fit in” and have friends because of Special Olympics Oregon.

Holland’s life is a busy one! In addition to her involvement with Special Olympics Oregon, she works a full-time job as an educator, is the mom of two young children. and coaches her son’s basketball team as well. Nikki and her family enjoy spending time outdoors and are also in the midst of building a house in the country.

We asked Nikki why she does all that she does while continuing to be so involved in Special Olympics Oregon. She said, "the memory that is most vivid is something that happened last year at Basketball Regional. My adult team won the championship game.  As the buzzer sounded, one of my athletes was so ecstatic, that he ran off the court in pure bliss. He ran toward me, jumped in the air, wrapped both arms and legs around me, so overjoyed and overcome with excitement, that he nearly knocked us both to the floor.  Who wouldn’t be taken in by that pure joy? Those are the moments that make me do what I do."

“Special Olympics is a huge part of my life and I am so thankful for all of the people that are in my life because of the connections it has brought to me.  I really feel that my role with Special Olympics has made me who I am today,” said Nikki.

Thank you Nikki for being such an incredible Local Program Coordinator and coach to Special Olympics Oregon!

Winter Season Pride In Performance Award Recipients

Mar 15, 2016 • sports, Winter, Pride In Performance, Athlete, Volunteer

Winter Snow Sports Les Schwab Pride in Performance Volunteer Award Recipient: Sue Wallace, Local Program Coordinator for Multnomah County

Sue has many friends and supporters, one of the biggest being her daughter, Emily, who is also a Special Olympics Oregon volunteer.

Sue's first exposure to  Special Olympics Oregon was as a spectator watching her son, Matt, compete as a Special Olympics Oregon athlete. When Matt started skiing, the whole family became more involved and Sue was right there not only cheering for him but for everyone!  You could tell she believed in each and every athlete. Emily said, "You could see her big heart and compassion shining through."

She was hooked on Special Olympics and just four years later she became the Local Program Coordinator for Multnomah County- almost 14 years ago!

She puts in endless hours of her time; coordinating practice facilities, making travel arrangements, securing coaches, managing athletes, organizing fundraisers, managing finances, ordering equipment and uniforms, and so much more.

Her dedication is undeniable. Sue had surgery four days before Summer State Games one year,  but instead of staying home to recuperate  she was in Newberg checking on athletes and coaches, as well as cheering in the stands. There’s just no stopping her!

When you talk about someone who puts their heart and soul into their work, Sue is the perfect example. She truly inspires the people around her to do their best and be their best.


Winter Snow Sports Les Schwab Pride in Performance Athlete Award Recipient: Danny Wells of Eugene/Springfield

Danny has been participating with Special Olympics Oregon for more than 10 years, competing in downhill skiing, golf and basketball.

His coach, Michael, said with great pride, “Besides Dan's skills improving over time in both golf and skiing, what I think is more important is his improvement in his ability to handle the aspects of competition, to win with humility and graciousness, to support his fellow athletes in their endeavors, whether it be congratulating them on their victories or consoling them in their time of need.”

“He accepts with dignity that although he gave his best, sometimes it falls short.  He is always ready to get out there and try again.”

Not only does Danny shine in sports competitions, but he has also been involved in many fundraisers for the local program, including the Polar Plunge and Tip-a-Cop events. He is a great member in the community and has worked at Columbia Distributors for the past 10 years.

He is a great friend to all his fellow athletes and a positive influence on teams in which he is a part of.



Winter Indoor Sports Les Schwab Pride In Performance Athlete Award Recipient: Juan Palacios, McMinnville High School

Juan has been participating with Special Olympics Oregon for five years in basketball, soccer and golf.

His coach has watched his skills develop in soccer and basketball and says he works hard and plays hard. In 2013, he received an athletic award for unified soccer. Juan is also a great cheerleader for his teammates and is always sharing words of encouragement from the sidelines. He is always happy, has a great attitude and takes a lot of pride in whatever he is doing.

Outside of Special Olympics, Juan volunteers his time at a local youth group and supports many Veteran’s Day events in the community. He was also voted prince for the Sophomore homecoming court at his high school!

Juan is a caring young man to anyone he knows and to those he may not know, and is always willing to lend a helping hand.





Winter Indoor Sports Les Schwab Pride In Performance Volunteer Award Recipient: Brigette Brown, Hillsboro School District

Brigette has been involved with Special Olympics Oregon for over 7 years. She is an adaptive PE Teacher for Hillsboro School District and has spearheaded many of the Unified programs throughout the district, including basketball and softball teams at elementary, middle and high schools.

Brigette has devoted many hours to recruiting athletes and partners, training coaches, arranging practices,  coordinating facilities, tracking paperwork and managing multiple teams throughout the school year.

To add to her list of roles, she has also coached many of these teams herself! She is a great advocate and resource for her students and athletes. Many of the assistant coaches that she has recruited for elementary and middle school teams are high school students, which has provided them with a meaningful opportunity to work with and learn about individuals with intellectual disabilities.

She has devoted so much of her time to ensure that young people with and without intellectual disabilities are provided with meaningful and inclusive sports opportunities so they can build friendships, develop physical fitness and feel included and accepted. Her hard work and strenuous efforts have greatly attributed to the success of many of Hillsboro School District’s Unified programs.

Special Olympics Oregon is extremely privileged to have Brigette as a volunteer, coach and an advocate for the Unified movement in schools throughout Oregon.

Good Luck!

Mar 11, 2016 •


March 12, 2016: Basketball in Springfield & Beaverton


Willamalane Center for Recreation & Sports (WCRS) – 250 S. 32nd Street, Springfield, OR 97478
Mt. Vernon Elementary (MVE) – 935 Filbert Mane, Springfield, OR 97478-6508
Agnes Stewart Middle Scholl (ASMS) – 900 S. 32nd Street, Springfield, OR 97478
Hamlin Middle School (HMS) – 326 Centennial Boulevard, Springfield, OR 97477
Thurston Middle School (TMS) – 6300 Thurston Road, Springfield, OR 97478

The Hoop - 9685 SW Harvest Ct, Beaverton, OR 97005

March 13, 2016: Basketball in Beaverton/HIllsboro


THPRD Athletic Center – 50 NW 158th Ave Beaverton, OR 97006
Liberty High School – 21945 Northwest Wagon Way, Hillsboro, OR 97124
Cedar Park Middle School – 11100 SW Park Way, Portland, OR 97225

March 13, 2016: Powerlifting in Medford


Ramada Inn Convention Center 2250 Biddle Rd, Medford, OR 97504)

Winter State Games Schedule of Events

Mar 04, 2016 •


Mt. Bachelor
9:00am – 4:00pm Cross Country and Snowshoeing competition – time trials and some finals & awards
10:00am – 3:00pm Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding competition – open time trials and Super G finals & awards

Mountain View High School
6:45pm Staging for Games Ceremonies Begins
7:00pm Parade of Athletes and Games Ceremonies
8:00pm - 9:30pm Dance

Mt. Bachelor
8:00am Teams Arrive
9:00am – 2:00pm Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing competition (finals) and awards
9:00am – 3:00pm Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding competition and awards

The first ever High School Unified Basketball League is created in Oregon for students with and without intellectual disabilities

Feb 09, 2016 •

Special Olympics Oregon Unified Sports is changing the culture in Oregon schools. By joining people with and without intellectual disabilities together on the same team, stereotypes about people who have an intellectual disability disappear, understanding grows and friendships are made. As a result, schools are becoming more accepting, inclusive and respect is being shown to those with intellectual disabilities.

Now, for the first time ever, a High School Unified Basketball league has been created. There are 39 games on the schedule in the Portland-metro area this season and it has already provided participants and spectators alike with amazing experiences!

Athletic Directors from schools around Oregon are treating their Unified basketball teams just like their Varsity and Junior Varsity teams by incorporating the games into the season's schedule, providing similar uniforms as other teams and providing newly trained coaches. Games are also planned with cheerleaders, a game announcer and a student cheering section that is full of enthusiasm. 

"Our first night of Unified Basketball games was incredibly successful. Parents came up to me after the game and were so appreciative that their child got to be part of a school team. They never envisioned that their child would wear the same high school uniform as an older brother or sister," said Jean Hansen, Director of Youth Outreach for Special Olympics Oregon.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend one of these Unified Basketball games you need to.  If you don’t want to take our word for it, then here are some quotes from a couple of people who recently attended a game for the first time:

"To ALL - If there's ever a chance to see one of these games even if you know no-one on either team - GO! Just watching the peer mentors help these kids - and all the celebrations after making a basket - it's a win/win all around! The fans cheering for both teams, the refs even high-fiving the kids. It made my week!”

"It was one of the best things I've ever seen. To see the band, cheer, students and staff get so spirited and support the efforts of these kids was so awesome… it made my week.”

Check out our Facebook page for the upcoming games schedule.

February Volunteer Spotlight

Feb 04, 2016 •

Tiffany Monroe is a Management Analyst for Springfield Police Department and is very involved in the Oregon Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR). Five years ago Tiffany was approached to participate and recruit runners from Springfield Police Department for the annual Special Olympics Oregon Torch Run. After participating in this event she was hooked!

Tiffany then began to look for more ways to get involved with Special Olympics Oregon and has since become a staple in coordinating the Springfield leg of the Torch Run, participates on the Eugene Polar Plunge planning committee, joined the Oregon LETR Executive Council, and most recently recruited Springfield Officers to serve as Power Lifting coaches for the Eugene/Springfield local program.

When asked what her favorite LETR memory is, Tiffany recalls recruiting Officers to coach Power Lifting. “Getting to see our officers and athletes working together every week has been my favorite LETR moment.  This experience has brought so much joy to both the athletes and the officers and I couldn’t be more pleased!”

Thank you Tiffany for all of your hard work and dedication to Oregon LETR and Special Olympics Oregon!

An evening with the Schonz!

Jan 11, 2016 •



For nearly 30 years, Bill Schonely was the man behind the microphone; the play-by-play announcer for Portland’s own Trail Blazers. A celebrity in his own right, Schonely’s voice is unmistakable to Blazers fans, coining famous catchphrases like “Bingo Bango Bongo,” “Lickety brindle up the middle,” and the team’s nickname, “Rip City.”

On Monday night, three lucky couples were able to join “The Schonz” and his wife Dottie at fabulous Portland eatery Bottle + Kitchen, located in the Hotel Rose. Each couple earned the privilege to attend with a generous donation to Special Olympics Oregon as part of a signature fundraising event. Over a delicious four-course meal, complete with wine pairings, Schonely regaled the group with tales of his life and experience as an integral part of the Trail Blazers franchise.

Special Olympics Oregon is especially grateful to Mr. Schonely for generously sharing his time and stories during this unique evening. Thank you to Pineapple Hospitality and Bottle + Kitchen for the exceptional hospitality and unparalleled experience for our guests. We look forward to a continued partnership!

January Athlete Spotlight

Jan 11, 2016 • Athlete, unified sports

Hasan Amhaz, Forest Grove High School

Hasan began participating in Special Olympics in the 4th grade, when Unified Sports was first offered in Oregon.  Now in his 9th year as a Special Olympics Oregon athlete, Hasan competes year round in Unified soccer, Unified basketball, Unified softball, Unified track and Unified bowling with Forest Grove High School’s Unified program.  His favorite sport is basketball and he says that he loves the people he meets while he is competing.  He looks forward to each practice and game and is devastated when a season ends.  Hasan is a great motivator for his teams and loves getting them pumped up for the next game.

At Forest Grove High School, Hasan is well known for his enthusiasm and friendly personality.  You can often find Hasan cheering for his fellow Forest Grove High School Viks (Vikings) at a sporting event.  Hasan is also very involved in many other inclusive school activities, including ASB Leadership Unity Rep for 2015-2016, selected by his peers to be the 2015 Homecoming King, presents to local elementary schools about the R-Word, is an active member in Unified Theater, and don’t forget his 4 straight appearances in his school’s Lip Sync Assembly!  He has also attended SOOR Youth Leadership Summits and has participated in Youth Games at Nike for the past 9 years. 

Last year Hasan represented his school at the Oregon Association of Student Councils (OASC) spring leadership conference where he was the first student with an intellectual disability to attend.  He was invited back to attend the OASC fall conference to help facilitate workshops to encourage students to create inclusive leadership opportunities at their schools for students with intellectual disabilities. 

SOOR has been an instrumental part in Hasan's life.  Through his experiences he has become a great leader and student. Hasan started as a shy 4th grader who had a difficult time making it through the day.  Now he shows up to school each day looking forward to practice.  He has gained numerous friends through SOOR who he couldn't live without.  You'll see him walking down the hall high fiving his teammates and friends!  Hasan’s biggest accomplishment has been being selected as the Unity Rep for Forest Grove High School.  In a school of 2000 students, this speaks volumes to his efforts as a leader and the inspiration he is to others.  One of his favorite moments is when he was announced Homecoming King and the crowd began chanting, “Hasan, Hasan, Hasan…” 

When Hasan isn’t participating in Unified Sports or other activities, he enjoys Fishing, playing X-Box, going to sporting events and spending time with friends.  In 2014 he received an award for his fishing efforts! 

Forest Grove High School will never be the same because of the positive impact Hasan has made!  Thanks to SOOR and the opportunities it provides Hasan, he has gained the confidence to be a leader and role model for unity!  We continue to be inspired by Hasan’s hilarious and energetic personality and his outstanding leadership on and off the field.

January Volunteer Spotlight

Jan 11, 2016 • Volunteer, unified sports, Polar Plunge

Mica Annis, Glencoe High School

During the summer leading into her freshman year at Glencoe High School, Mica Annis attended a leadership camp where she learned about the Polar Plunge.  She immediately became interested in getting involved with Special Olympics Oregon and supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities.  Once school started, she hit the ground running with excitement to get her school involved in the Polar Plunge.  Now a senior, Mica has been Glencoe’s Polar Plunge captain for the past 4 years and has expanded her involvement with SOOR and her passion for advocating for individuals with intellectual disabilities. 

As a freshman, Mica coached an elementary Unified basketball team and quickly realized the impact that sport can have for individuals with intellectual disabilities, especially youth.  She specifically worked with two youth basketball players who had low skills and never scored a basket.  At their last game of the season, one of the players was passed the ball and their entire team came together to help her score her first basket.  This experience helped Mica realize the power of sport and the true spirit of Special Olympics. 

“Yes, there is a competitive aspect, but Special Olympics is more about coming together and helping each other succeed.  This is really exciting to be a part of,” says Mica. 

After coaching, Mica played a valuable role in starting a Unified Sports program at Glencoe High School.  She even participated as a Unified Partner on their Unified soccer team one year.   Mica says that Unified Sports has truly helped herself and her peers develop relationships with students with intellectual disabilities.  When asked what has been the most powerful part of her involvement with Unified Sports, Mica said, “Seeing how much Unified Sports and Special Olympics can help people and integrate them into society, develop friendships and build confidence.”

Special Olympics Oregon is not the only thing that Mica is passionate about, her list of involvements is quite outstanding for an 18 year old.  Mica is currently the Student Body President and Key Club President at Glencoe High School.  She is also a member of multiple organizations, including the Hillsboro Youth Advisory Council, Youth Advisory Board for World Affairs Council of Oregon, and an Ambassador to the State Capital for the Oregon Association of Student Councils.  In addition to these roles, Mica has also been a leader for SOOR by facilitating multiple workshops about the Polar Plunge at various leadership conferences and events for youth.  Last summer Mica interned at the SOOR state offices and was a huge help in assisting with projects, events, and presentations.

One of Mica’s favorite experiences throughout her SOOR involvement has been building Glencoe’s participation in the Polar Plunge.  The first year only 5 students joined Glencoe’s team, but last year there were 35 students that took the Plunge with Mica.  “It’s exciting to see how much it has grown and how many people care about the cause and are passionate about it,” says Mica.

After graduation this spring, Mica plans to attend college and pursue a degree in International Studies and minor in Women’s Studies.  She then hopes to acquire a law degree and work on civil and human rights to advocate for equality and basic human needs.

Thank you for being such a dedicated advocate and supporter for Special Olympics Oregon, Mica.  Your passion, leadership, and commitment to promoting inclusion is an inspiration to us all, especially our youth leaders and athletes!

Isaac and Suke’s 5th Annual Radiothon for Special Olympics Oregon Raises Over $130,000

Dec 02, 2015 •

Isaac and Suke’s 5th Annual Radiothon for Special Olympics Oregon Raises Over $130,000

PORTLAND, OR — 1080 The FAN (KFXX/KWJJ-FM HD2) completed its 5th annual radiothon with over $130,000 raised for Special Olympics Oregon. The 28-hour radiothon was anchored by The FAN’s afternoon-drive hosts Isaac Ropp and Jason Scukanec of Primetime with Isaac and Suke.
“I am humbled by the generosity of our listeners, and their collective can-do attitude to help us with Special Olympics Oregon each year,” commented Ropp. “Portland is a great community, and this is a cause that is near and dear to us. We talk about sports and high-profile athletes every day, but these Olympians are the real champions.”

“Special Olympics Oregon and its 12,000 participants are truly grateful to Entercom, Isaac & Suke, and all of the FAN listeners for their amazing support during the radiothon,” said Special Olympics Oregon chief development officer Torre Chisholm. "We are also appreciative of the role Comcast SportsNet Northwest and their outstanding broadcasters played in the event. Together, as a community of people who believe in the power of sports to change lives, we succeeded in raising a record amount of money to create new and expanding opportunities for Special Olympics athletes throughout Oregon."

“We’re honored to partner with Special Olympics Oregon each year,” said FAN program director Jeff Austin. “The overwhelming support of the FAN staff, our listeners, and advertisers was essential in setting a new record for donations, and further proof of the unique bond Isaac and Suke have with their audience.”

Primetime with Isaac and Suke, which airs each weekday from 3pm to 7pm on The FAN, is streamed live at, on the 1080 The FAN app and on TuneIn, and is simulcast regionally via Comcast SportsNet Northwest. The FAN is on twitter @1080thefan and on Facebook at

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 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 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.

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: or

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 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 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


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:


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 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 or visit the Facebook page


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 crucia