In March, we were adapting to cope with Covid-19 by canceling events to ensure the safety of athletes, volunteers, and staff; hosting clunky Zoom calls and quickly apologizing when a dog would bark, a kid would meltdown, or a spouse would unknowingly enter the background in a bathrobe; and more than anything – worrying about the impact that this unknown virus could have on the health and well-being of our athletes, so many of whom already deal with feelings of isolation. I can’t put my finger on when the shift happened from adapting to cope to adapting to win; but boy did it happen.
Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”
– Max McKeown
I don’t often shine the spotlight on our staff as they prefer to keep athletes and volunteers at the center of all we do. But as I was writing this opening to highlight the many things happening across our mission – it really hit me just how remarkable this small but mighty team of eleven is. They deserve a tip-of-the-hat for how quickly they shifted their mindset from short-term discomfort to needing long-term solutions – and as a result, I get to share these updates with you:
Breakfast with Champions, presented by U.S. Bank: We are thrilled to launch this refreshed version of a beloved Special Olympics event next week on October 14th from 8:00 – 9:00 in the morning. Oregonians across the state are invited to join, at no charge, and start their day at home with a coffee and our ESPN Sports Center-themed program, hosted by Special Olympics Oregon athlete, Shawn Hinz. Take a break from the heavy news cycle and instead immerse yourself in their inspiring and joyful stories, listen as Shawn interviews PGA legend Peter Jacobsen, and hear from Special Olympics athlete correspondents around the state with a focus on our feature athlete’s story that will truly warm your heart. And – make sure you check out our online auction that could put you and 9 friends on a private Zoom call with Damian Lillard!

Fall Virtual Games presented by Providence Health & Services: Registration is open for athlete, Unified partner, and coach participation across four sport competition categories. Athletes will train and receive instruction in their chosen sports, connect and engage with their peers on Facebook, and submit their scores between November 2-9. There will be a traditional Opening Ceremonies November 2 and we’ll look forward to welcoming family, friends, and the community to cheer on the athletes as they push their own boundaries and experience the joy of sport. 

Polar Plunge: Registration is open for all five locations (Portland, Corvallis, Medford, Bend, and Eugene) as well as the Super Plunge and 5K/10K race. The February Plunge season will feature safe in-person options and also brrr-tual options – something for everyone. Sign up now to get your super frigid…errr, cool… Plunge face mask and be sure to join the upcoming Virtual Halloween House Party featuring a costume contest for athletes, families, friends, Unified partners, Plungers and 4-legged friends on Oct. 29th on the SOOR Active platform.

SOOR Active: We are excited with the incredible response to our virtual programming and should exceed 1,000 members by the end of the month! Everyone is welcome to join this inclusive community to participate in health, fitness, and social activities.  

Esports presented by Sony: The third season of Rocket League has kicked off and the excitement around this new platform for athletes to engage on is awesome. Special Olympics Oregon has been nationally recognized as a leader in the gaming space and we are thrilled to be working in collaboration with athlete leaders to develop this new way for athletes to stay connected and enjoy competition. 

Unified Champion Schools: October is always a month to look forward to as we get to engage with athlete and student leaders during our Youth Summits. While they are virtual this year, the excitement amongst the school programs is palpable. The UCS programs are providing students with a familiar outlet where they work on their leadership skills, have a chance to promote respect and inclusion with their classmates, and they will creatively find ways to ensure this program continues to thrive when it’s needed most.
Britt Oase
Chief Executive Officer
Special Olympics Oregon
Partner Spotlight
Special Olympics Oregon is honored to be one of the many nonprofits that has received critical support from U.S. Bank during a year when we’ve all watched our revenue streams be impacted by a global pandemic. At the core of U.S. Bank is the philosophy that people deserve the opportunity to dream, believe, and achieve – which perfectly aligns with Special Olympics Oregon’s mission of using sport as a platform to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. “I’m inspired by the many nonprofit partners U.S. Bank engages with throughout the year”, shared Karen Kervin, Vice President and Community Affairs Manager. “There is great need in the community right now, and this need is being met by nonprofit organizations.”

Karen has been actively following Special Olympics Oregon’s rebuild over the last two years and saw an opportunity to come alongside the organization to relaunch and refresh one of its most beloved events – Breakfast with Champions. With engagement from Stacey Dodson, Market President overseeing Portland, Oregon and SW Washington, and Lance Rudge, Consumer and Business Banking Market Leader, U.S. Bank became the event’s presenting sponsor. On the morning of October 14th from 8:00 – 9:00, all Oregonians are invited to start their day at home with a virtual program that promises to be as joyful as it will be inspiring. Thanks to U.S. Bank, Special Olympics Oregon athletes have been empowered to curate the program content and will be hosting the show to give the audience a glimpse into their lives. It’s an hour you won’t want to miss – and all are welcome to join.

On behalf of the entire Special Olympics Oregon family, we thank U.S. Bank for the tremendous impact they make in our program and throughout our state. When asked what she loves most about the work she does, Karen said that “it’s an honor to support nonprofit work through U.S. Bank Foundation grants. I am particularly proud of the $650,000 we invested this year with eight local, BIPOC-led, nonprofit organizations that are addressing needs exacerbated by systemic racial inequities in small business, housing and workforce advancement. These grants were awarded as operating funds because we trust community leaders to know how, when and where to use these funds for the greatest impact.” 

We hope to see everyone for the Breakfast with Champions presented by U.S. Bank next week!

For more details and to register, please visit our website >> BWC: Info + Registration
Hero Spotlight
Steve Berne
author: Britt Oase
We all have different ideas of what angels might look like – I’ll let you in on a little secret: There’s an angel in Oregon who wears a suit every day and rides a Harley in his free time. Steve Berne, partner with Harris Berne Christensen, came alongside SOOR’s leadership team in the Fall of 2018 to provide much needed pro bono expertise and guidance. What initially was intended to be a few hours here or there turned into a passion project for Steve that had him rolling up his sleeves to provide Special Olympics Oregon with the kind of time, attention, and care I would expect his most prestigious clients received. And, make no mistake – we needed it.  

I asked Steve why he embraced our organization in the way that he did. “When I heard the predicament you were in”, Steve said, “I immediately thought it was unacceptable that Oregonians would let Special Olympics die in the very State where Nike was born and grew up, and I knew I had to use my professional skills and connections to help get things turned around.” And that he did. Steve helped us to restore relationships with critical vendors, gain the trust of philanthropists, and stabilize our financial situation. When he wasn’t busy negotiating on our behalf or providing consultation, he was showing up to cheer athletes on at soccer matches and other events.  >> read more
Unified Champion Schools
Special Olympics Nationally Recognized
Unified Champion Schools
  • Portland Westview High School
  • Silverton Silverton High School
  • Sisters Sisters High School
  • Portland Cleveland High School
  • Milwaukie Alder Creek Middle School
Volunteer Spotlight
Long Time SOOR Clackamas Volunteer, Ann Beringer, Says Good-bye

Ann Beringer has been a member of the SOOR family for two decades. She recently resigned from her volunteer role because she’s moving to Washington. It’s hard to say good-bye to family – but we do it with love, respect and kindness for all you’ve done for us!

Ann became part of the SOOR family in 1997 as the Sports Manager for the Clackamas County local program. It was a paid position and she was so happy to go to work every day and be involved with sports! Within a few years, the SOOR structure evolved to all volunteer local program management teams. The team still needed Ann and in a decision that shows commitment and compassion, she re-joined the group and volunteered as the Sports Manager and coach for 20 years. Ann loves her Clackamas group and it’s hard to leave!

Ann said, “The Local Program Management Team worked so well together. The duties were divided up among all the volunteers so everyone could have a role and help out.  We got to focus on the areas that we like the best. It made for a nice big team with everyone working together.” >> read more
Athlete Spotlight
What has Henry Meece, Special Olympics Oregon athlete
and five time X-Games medalist been up to during COVID?
Just like everyone else, our world became smaller in mid-March due to covid-19. Henry’s employment stopped, community inclusion programs stopped operating, dragon boating season was over before it started, Saturday night skate night at Oaks Park ceased and Special Olympics Oregon sign-ups and fun events were nowhere to be found on our horizon. Trying to stay engaged and in touch with family and friends was challenging especially in the beginning before we started establishing our new routine.

Our new routine included lots of walking, birdwatching and hiking. We started walking
3 times a day, a few miles each walk. We explored almost all of the metro green spaces which have remained open during the pandemic. We hiked all our favorite ski runs on Mt. Hood and hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail from Timberline to Paradise Park. It was so much fun we did it twice. Henry loves forest park and we hiked most of those trails this summer. It’s close by and you can choose any distance and hike as much or as little as you want. We started keeping track of our mileage— we’ve walked 1282 miles so far. We practiced Tai Chi on a closed street. We can still kayak so we paddled in new water and skating happened too— only 4 nights, but it was outside and with a live DJ so it seemed special. And then… one of Henry’s jobs came back… and then Fall Virtual Games sports sign up… So now we have a horizon!

We still can’t get together with friends, but we can see grandparents in their backyard in our masks and now we can connect with some groups via zoom. It’s really not the same but we can connect on some level and at least feel like we are moving forward and establishing some kind of new normal. One of the biggest changes in our lives is that there are no casual conversations in the community. We go about our outdoor activities masked, avoiding socialization and we miss being able to strike up unplanned conversations.

Henry has participated in SOOR Active since the first week and it’s no surprise that the Thursday dances and the Tuesday social hour are his favorite events. Those of you who know Henry know that he lives for the dance at the state competitions. He’s looking forward to participating in the Special Olympics Oregon Fall Virtual Games Fitness Challenge and athletics events

- Nancy Newell (Henry Meece’s Mom)
Esports League Season 3 Presented by SONY
Register today for our upcoming SOOR Esports League Season 3 Presented by SONY! The season will begin on October 12th (Monday night) at 6pm, and conclude on Thursday, November 19th. We will play Rocket league every Monday night at 6pm throughout the 6 week season. There will be a final competition Thursday (11/9) to align with our 2020 SOOR Virtual Fall Games which will also be live streamed. You and your teammate will compete for a medal and will qualify as an official participant of the 2020 SOOR Fall Virtual Games event. Sign up now to register for our 6 week season, just the Rocket League Virtual Fall Games tournament or both!
Strava Club
Join the SOOR Strava club for access to monthly fitness and distance challenges and the chance to take your place on our weekly leaderboard. Earn badges for your profile by getting active and compete with other Strava athletes across Oregon. You can connect to Strava by using your smart phone, fitness tracking device or input activities through your desktop computer. Simply sign up for a free Strava account and search for ‘Special Olympics Oregon’ club. >> sign up
Sponsor Spotlight
Thank you to the many companies that have made our Fall Virtual Games and
Breakfast with Champions possible.
Our Mission
Special Olympics Oregon provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children, youth and adults living with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.