SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– The state Special Olympics were supposed to begin later this week here in Springfield, but the 2019 summer games have been canceled because of tornado damage and flooding in Jefferson City.
Authorities made the difficult decision to cancel the 2019 State Summer Games, scheduled to be held May 31-June 2 in Springfield.
The training for life campus was hit by the tornado and suffered major damage. The buildings operations have been suspended until further notice.
Windows were shattered during the storm and part of the gymnasium roof was torn off. Some equipment was damaged too. Representatives say volunteers have already began the clean up and repair.
The games were going to be held this weekend at the Missouri State University and Evengale University but the board chairman said with the damage and weather they had no choice but to cancel.
Local coaches, parents and athletes say they completely understand and are proud to see organizers regroup and begin move forward with repairs.
“We are heartbroken that we have to cancel State Summer Games,” said Susan Stegeman, SOMO president and CEO. “The athletes deserve better, but based on the severe tornado damage to SOMO headquarters, the extreme flooding throughout the state and a grim 10-day forecast, we had to make this call.”
SOMO Board Chairman Gary Wilbers said, “Our staff’s top priority is always the athletes. They would move mountains to make sure the athletes have quality competition. As the chair of the SOMO Board of Directors, I must look out for the wellbeing of our organization.
“As a board, we cannot in good conscience expect our team to execute these games after suffering the devastation of losing the campus that they, and so many of you, have worked so hard to make a home for our athletes. Their physical, emotional and mental health must be the top priority at this time as we rebuild the Training for Life Campus.”
More than 100 volunteers were at the campus Friday to help clean up in preparation for repair. Thanks to Jefferson City High School, Helias High School, Mizzou Baseball, GFI, Gibbs Center and other Special Olympics Programs for donating their time and resources this week.
Individuals and businesses interested in donating to the rebuild efforts can text SOMOREBUILD to 71777. Information regarding any future programming events is forthcoming. Follow us on all of our social media accounts to stay up to date with the latest information on the rebuild.
“We have an incredible staff and an army of volunteers helping us recover. We will rebuild and SOMO will be stronger than ever,” Stegeman said.
The Training For Life Campus offers year-round training, health and leadership opportunities for athletes, coaches, volunteers and staff
Special Olympics Missouri focuses on year round training and competition for all age groups with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics returns 86 percent of every dollar they earn back to the program. Special Olympics has been honored with several awards including Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity, Charity Navigator three star rating and an inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2013.
The athletes enjoy seeing their friends, coaches and staff the most. because the games are canceled. the area Special Olympics family locally will gather at Fassnight Park for a barbecue at 6 p.m. on Friday May 30, 2019.
Visit Special Olympics at www.somo.org, for more information.