Mission: Through year-round sports and training, individuals with intellectual disabilities are given the chance to gain confidence, seek opportunities to improve their physical fitness, demonstrate pride, and participate in their communities.
Programs: Special olympics missouri (somo) serves individuals with intellectual disabilities each year, by combining the health, fitness, social, and emotional benefits that result from participation in sports. Somo will substantially increase its capacity to serve these individuals through a state-of-the art training for life campus. This world-class, 44,000-square-foot facility will be built on 16. 5 acres in jefferson city, mo, centrally located for more than 120,400 individuals in the state who qualify for and would benefit from somo programs. Research shows developed economies like the united states have reduced physical activity levels by as much as 32% in fewer than two generations. The science is clear. Physical activity does more than create good health. It contributes to leadership, productivity and innovation. Special olympics provides training for life. One-third of somo athletes have autism spectrum disorder and another third have down syndrome. There are an estimated 120,400 individuals with intellectual disabilities in missouri. Athletes who participate in special olympics can double the likelihood to find and keep employment, making it far more than a sports organization. The motor skills of our children participating in the young athletes program improved at twice the rate of children who were not involved. Special olympics is the largest public health platform for people with id in the world, partnering with healthcare professionals in missouri to offer free screenings. Special olympics is proud to have 83% program expenses for 2014. This is especially impressive during a capital campaign while continuing to serve over 16,5000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities with the invaluable assistance from 21,040 volunteers. Special olympics received over $2. 2 million in contributed goods and services that are budget relieving. While this amount is excluded form the form 990, somo believes this is integral to our success. According to a recent athlete survey, 64% of somo athletes live below the federal poverty level and an additional 7% live below 133% of the federal poverty level.
the healthy athletes program is an initiative developed by special olympics, inc. , with a mission of improving the overall health of our athletes through various health screenings. This program offers athletes the opportunity to improve their health in an environment that is focused on the needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Screening programs include funfitness, healthy hearing, fit feet, health promotion, opening eyes, special smiles, and medfest. With the help of local volunteer health professionals, medfest provides athletes with physical examinations. Medfest exams also address questions and concerns of athletes' parents and guardians. All healthy athletes programs are provided free of charge to all special olympics athletes. 1,448 athletes were screened during 2014. $1 of healthy athlete expense results in $5 of service (pro bono). These programs were mainly funded by donated services in 2014, which were valued at $23,260.
Blue Springs Students Give Up Crowns to SOMO Athletes
Prom can easily be considered one of the most important nights of a senior’s last year in high school, and what could be more of an honor than ruling this night as prom king or queen? For most high schools, the race for prom king and queen takes the form of a popularity contest with weeks of anticipation for who will be named prom royalty. However, this year, on May 2 at Blue Springs High School, the prom king and queen stepped away from their thrones to give their crowns to a duo they felt were more deserving. The prom king and queen, Joe Malone and Lauren Anderson, gave up their crowns to two special education students at Blue Springs High School, Whitney Bowlin and Brent Roberts.
Joe, a graduating senior of Blue Springs High School, came up with the idea to give up his crown. “Over Christmas break I kind of went through a maturing process… popularity mattered a lot to me before, but during this time I got closer to God and realized what is really important.” Joe’s initial thought was to have a separate prom king and queen for the special education kids, some of whom he got to know by coaching a Special Olympics flag football team, but Joe’s idea was turned down by the school. So as prom neared, Joe instead decided that if he won he would give up his crown to a special education student.
When the ballots for the king and queen were tallied, Joe Malone and Lauren Anderson were found to be Blue Springs High School’s 2009 prom king and queen. Joe had already told Lauren about his plan to give up his crown, and Lauren thought it was a really cool idea and was excited to be a part of it. The duo chose two senior special education students, Whitney Bowlin and Brent Roberts, who had big hearts and a lot of Wildcat pride. They are two people whom Joe described as “always happy and always so good.”
Their prom was held at Westin Crown Center in Kansas City May 2, and Whitney and Brent arrived there clueless of their destined royalty. Whitney brought her grandpa along as her prom date, and Brent arrived solo. After Joe and Lauren were announced king and queen, they took the stage and announced that they were giving their crowns to two more deserving students. This is when Brent and Whitney’s names were announced as the new prom king and queen. When Whitney’s name was announced she ran on stage and began yelling, “I’m the prom queen! I’m the prom queen!” Brent, who cannot speak, simply smiled big and gave Joe a “classic Brent” -- two pats on the shoulder and a light slap on the cheek.
The news of the new prom king and queen traveled quickly around Kansas City, getting a lot more publicity than anyone involved ever imagined. “We didn’t expect all the publicity,” Joe says. “We just did it because they deserved it … but I think it’s nice that people hear something good is happening, when there is so much negative out in the world being covered by the media.”
Whitney’s mom was touched by the thoughtfulness these two seniors showed to her daughter and Brent. “It’s neat to know there are kids out there that still have that kind of heart … to me, it’s just like a storybook.”
The 2009 prom will not soon be forgotten at Blue Springs High School or even in the Kansas City area for that matter. “Life is about making impacts and making people a little bit happier,” Joe says. “If I were to die today, it’s good to know that Lauren and I made an impact in their lives.”
Being prom queen means more to Whitney than could be imagined. “It’s just awesome being the prom queen,” she says. “I will always be the prom queen.”