The Special Olympics Iowa staff would like to thank all the athletes, Unified partners, coaches, delegation managers, volunteers, families, caregivers and partners for sharing in the memories that made 2019 special. We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!
Eight Individuals Inducted into
Special Olympics Iowa Hall of Fame
The second Special Olympics Iowa Hall of Fame class was inducted on December 2 at the Iowa Hall of Pride. Each of the Hall of Fame inductees exemplify what it means to be a leader and innovator in the Special Olympics movement. We would like to congratulate the 2019 class which includes John Barker (Cedar Rapids), Sonia Bellile (Iowa City), Beth Hagedorn (Manning), Kathy Henningsen (Eldridge), Kyler Prunty (West Des Moines), Ron Schmidt (Sioux City), Bob Steward (Sheldon) and Richard “Dick” Vetter (Muscatine).
The 2019 Special Olympics Iowa Hall of Fame class (from left to right, back row) Ron Schmidt, Kyler Prunty, Bob Steward, John Barker, Beth Hagedorn (front row) Sonia Bellile, Richard "Dick" Vetter and Kathy Henningsen.
Are You Ready to Take on the 8-Week Fitness Challenge?
We are excited to share that athletes have begun taking the 8-Week Fitness Challenge. This program works to empower and equip our athletes, and those who spend time with them, to take steps towards living a healthier lifestyle. The 8-week Fitness Challenge curriculum is based off of the Special Olympics Fit 5 resource and focuses on nutrition, hydration, and exercise. Athletes that have completed the challenge say they learned a lot of new exercises and their favorite part was practicing making a healthy snack. The 8 weeks are split into the pre-assessment week, 6 weeks of 15-minute lessons and the post assessment week.

The programming is easy to implement at sport practices, workout groups, PE and health classes. Special Olympics Iowa provides all resources, lessons that can be easily modified to fit the needs of any group and prizes for the end. If you would like additional information about how you can implement the fitness challenge with your team contact Kara Neustrom , Special Olympics Iowa Health and Fitness Coordinator.
2019 State Bowling Recap
November 23 proved to be an exciting day of bowling across Iowa with over 1,000 athletes and Unified partners competing in the Special Olympics Iowa 2019 State Bowling Competition. The competition was held at four locations including Westdale Bowling Center in Cedar Rapids, Thunderbowl in Council Bluffs, and Bowlerama Lanes and Merle Hay Lanes in Des Moines. Each location had two or three sessions of competition. Congratulations to all of the athletes and Unified partners who competed in the state competition this year!

With more than 3,100 of the 16,000+ athletes and Unified partners in Iowa competing in area and state bowling, the bowling competition continues to be the second most popular Special Olympics sport in Iowa. 
SOIA Unified Programming Staff Bring Back New Insight From Special Olympics North America Workshop
Special Olympics Iowa Unified Programs staff, Bryan Coffey, Lexxi O'Brien and Rachel Bosworth, traveled to Baltimore, Maryland earlier this month for a Unified Champion Schools workshop put on by Special Olympics North America. The workshop focused on better understanding the dynamic and needs of programs around the country. Delivery of quality engagement to existing schools, as well as program growth in each state was analyzed through data, best practice sharing and crossover between the two.

The three components of a Unified Champion School, when practiced meaningfully, supports the Special Olympics mission of assisting athletes to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Winter Games to be Held January 13 and 14
Next month Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners will take Dubuque by storm as they gather for the 2020 Special Olympics Iowa Winter Games. The 2-day competition is expected to have more than 250 athletes and Unified partners competing in skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing events.

Date:  January 13-14, 2020
Locations:  Sundown Mountain, Albrecht Acres, and Mystique Ice Center in Dubuque

More information  on volunteering and competition.
Athletes and Unified Partners Learn about Sharing Their Story with the World
The annual Athlete Leadership Conference, held November 8 and 9, prepared Special Olympics Iowa athletes and Unified pairs to be leaders and ambassadors of the Special Olympics Movement.

The two-day conference worked to prepare athletes for meaningful positions of influence and leadership throughout the Special Olympics organization, both on and off the playing field. During the conference athletes learned about writing and giving speeches, creating presentations and using social media to share their story. 

“This year we had 10 athletes and 2 Unified partners that were trained for the first time as a Global Messenger at the Athlete Leadership Conference,” shared Wendy Olinger, Director of Athlete Initiatives. “As athletes go through the training they gain self-confidence and valuable skills that help them to not only be ambassadors of the Special Olympics Movement but also active members in their communities.” 

The trainin g pairs an athlete or Unified pair with a speech coach who assists with organizing the athlete’s thoughts and experiences both in and out of Special Olympics. The speech coach also serves as a mentor both during and after the conference.   
The 2019 Special Olympics Iowa Global Messengers.
Fundraising Central
12 Bars of Charity

Special Olympics Iowa is excited to be one of the eight charities for the 3rd Annual 12 Bars of Charity event. The 12 Bars of Charity is the holiday pub crawl that gives back to local charities. Grab your friends and register today to be part of Team Special Olympics Iowa.

Date: Saturday, December 14
Location: Court Ave., Des Moines
Sweatshirt Color: Navy
Finish Line Youth Foundation Holiday Drive

This holiday season the Finish Line Youth Foundation is hosting their annual holiday drive to raise funds for Special Olympics. To help Special Olympics athletes be unstoppable visit your local Finish Line now through December 30 to donate or visit the Finish Line Youth Foundation page . Your gift will be matched by Finish Line - $10 becomes $20, $35 becomes $70, and $150 becomes $300.
Coaches Corner
Coaches' Guide Available Online!
The 2019-2020 SOIA Coaches' Guide is now available on our website !

Becoming a coach and coaching re-certification is now easier than ever!
Check out our "Become a Coach" page !
You can now become certified/re-certified ONLINE !
Contact Dawn Criss if you have any questions about coaching certification.

Registration Forms Available Online
Registration forms for Challenge Days and Young Athlete Play Days are now available online! Go to the Participation Forms page on our website to view registration forms for all SOIA events.

Share Your Story!
Do you know someone with a great story to share? We're always looking to share our athletes' stories in the newsletter. Please email Karen Whitman with your story ideas.
Event Calendar

Visit our online calendar for event updates!

2-NAIA Volleyball Special Olympics Clinic
2-Hall of Fame Induction and Holiday Party
7-University of Iowa Unified Sports Day
8-West Des Moines Polar Plunge®
14-Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament

7-Southwest Area Basketball Skills
13 & 14-Winter Games
15-Unified Indoor Rowing (University of Iowa)
18-East Area Conference Basketball (Team & Skills)
18-South Central Basketball Skills
19-Unified Track Meet
22-Unified Indoor Rowing (University of Iowa)
23-North Area Basketball Skills
25-Northwest Area Basketball Skills
28-Central Area Basketball Skills
29-Unified Indoor Rowing (University of Iowa)
30-West Central Area Basketball Skills

1-West Conference Basketball Tournament
5-Unified Indoor Rowing (University of Iowa)
6-Oskaloosa Young Athletes Play Day
8-Wartburg College Unified Sports Day
8-East Central Conference Basketball Tournament
8-East Central Basketball Skills
8-Southeast Area Basketball Skills
8-Iowa Indoor Rowing Challenge
13-Southwest Area Bocce Tournament
13-North Central Area Basketball Skills
15-Northeast Area Basketball Skills
15-West Central Conference Basketball
29-East Area Swimming