Winter Games to be held January 14-15, 2019
Cold weather, snow, ice, mountains...nothing can stop our athletes from speeding down the slope, running through the snowshoe course, or skating around the rink. Dubuque hosts more than 350 athletes and 150 volunteers for the two-day Winter Games.

Date: January 14-15, 2019
Locations: Sundown Mountain, Albrecht Acres, and Mystique Ice Center in Dubuque
Registration Deadline: December 3, 2018

More information on volunteering and competition.
State Bowling Recap
1,041 Special Olympics Iowa athletes and Unified Sports Partners were registered for the State Bowling tournament on November 17th. The tournament was held at four different locations- Bowlerama Lanes and Merle Hay Lanes in Des Moines, Thunderbowl in Council Bluffs, and the Westdale Bowling Center in Cedar Rapids.

Athletes and Unified Partners who received first place in their division at area tournaments qualified for the state tournament. Bowlers participated in singles, doubles or team competition. Bowlers who required additional physical assistance utilized ramps for their competition. Each athlete and Unified Sports partner bowled two games.

A special thank you to the community volunteers that assisted as lane monitors and award presenters and to Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations for sponsoring the tournament.
Athlete Leadership Conference Recap
The first Annual Athlete Leadership Conference was held November 9th and 10th at Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines. This conference brought 51 Global Messengers and their Speech Coaches together from across the state. Ten of those Global Messengers are new to the program.

On Friday the participants had a chance to learn about each other and the direction the Athlete Leadership program is going to take moving forward. Saturday the group came together in the morning to learn about what makes Special Olympics unique. Saturday afternoon the group split into groups and new Global Messengers learned how to write and give a speech, while advanced Global Messengers learned more about divisioning, writing a purpose statement, and the history and structure of Special Olympics.

The goal for the future is that the Global Messengers will continue to go through a track of chosen classes that are created based on information they want to learn more about which could include writing a new or longer speech, helping more with fundraising, or advancement in leadership opportunities.
Shoot for the Stars at the
Pistol Shoot Tournament
Join us for the 3rd Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Pistol Shoot, "Shoot for the Stars" hosted at CrossRoads Shooting Sports. There are a variety of options to fit different types of people.

Date: Saturday, December 15, 2018
Location: CrossRoads Shooting Sports (5550 Johnston Dr., Johnston, IA 50131)
Time: 9 a.m. - noon

2018 Young Athlete Play Day and Challenge Day Programs
904 athletes participated in the 11 Young Athlete Play Days that were held throughout the state in 2018. The Young Athlete Play Days expose athletes both with and without intellectual disabilities to 8 of the various sports (Gymnastics, Basketball Skills, Soccer, Athletics, Softball, Bowling, Bocce, and Dance) that Special Olympics has to offer.

310 athletes participated in the 6 Challenge Days that were held throughout the state in 2018. Challenge Days are designed to provide adaptive sports to those who are significantly challenged or to those who are no longer able to participate in traditional sports. During a Challenge Day, athletes are able to participate in 11 sports stations that represent 7 of the sports (Bowling, Golf, Athletics, Softball, Basketball, Volleyball, and Bocce) that are offered at Special Olympics.

In addition to Young Athlete Play Days and Challenge Days, 2 Healthy Athlete events were held in Iowa City and Ames. Athletes were able to receive free health screenings during these events. 771 screenings were performed for Fit Feet, Fun Fitness, Health Promotions, Healthy Hearing, Opening Eyes, Medfest and Special Smiles.
Norwalk Dodgeball Tournament
Get your team together and get ready to dodge! The Norwalk Dodgeball Tournament is coming up on Saturday, January 26, 2019. Registration is coming soon!

Date: Saturday, January 26, 2019
Cost: $200 per team
Location: Lakewood Elementary, Norwalk

Polar Plunges ®
Ready, Set, FREEZE!
Our Polar Plunges ® have begun! Are you brave enough to face the cold and help raise money for Special Olympics Iowa? Check out the list of Fall and Spring Polar Plunges ® below:
Remaining Fall Polar Plunge ® Dates:

West Des Moines - Sunday, December 2, Raccoon River Park

Spring Polar Plunge ® Locations & Dates:

Warren County - Saturday, February 23, Lake Ahquabi, Indianola

Iowa City - Saturday, March 30, West Overlook Beach

Iowa Tennis Official Selected to Serve as Tennis Official at 2019 SO World Games
Donna Farley, a tennis official from Iowa, has been selected to attend the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi as a Tennis Official. Donna first learned about the Special Olympics Summer Games from John Terpkosh, a USTA Park & Recreation Section Coordinator from Des Moines. John encouraged Donna to get involved with the 2005 Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games as a lead-up to the first ever Special Olympics North America National Games in 2006 hosted in Ames. "This is where it all began as I met so many other dedicated tennis officials from all over the country," said Farley. "I fell in love with the athletes because of their enthusiasm and joy, bright spirits and competitive approach to the game of tennis."

Donna's love for Special Olympics and officiating tennis has continued for 14 years. She has been on many National and International tennis officiating teams including the following USA National Games: Ames, IA (2006); Lincoln, NE (2010); Princeton, NJ (2014); and Seattle, WA (2018) and the following World Games: Shanghai, China (2007) and Los Angeles, CA (2015).

Donna looks forward to traveling to the Middle East for the first time and is avidly reading books about Abu Dhabi. There will be 36 tennis officials, mostly from the host country, but Donna is one of four from the United States. "The competitions are the highlight, seeing these athletes reach their potential and getting the recognition they deserve." Donna is anxiously awaiting the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi and the chance to make memorable sport experiences for the 7,000 athletes from 170 countries that will be competing.
50 For 50 Years
2018 marks 50 years for the Special Olympics. That means 50 years of our volunteers, staff, and supporters working tirelessly to achieve our mission – a world without discrimination. A world where individuals with intellectual disabilities can tap their untold potential and live their lives to the fullest.

Special Olympics Iowa asks you to join us in celebrating 50 years of bliss, bravery and empowerment by donating to our  $50 for 50 campaign  in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics. With each $50 donation, donors will get their choice of a limited-edition commemorative 50th Anniversary Gold Pin or Gold Coin.

Special Olympics Iowa is so proud of being a part of what has been accomplished over the past 50 years. With 5 million served in over 172 countries, we have changed many lives all over the world. Help us continue to make a difference in athlete’s lives.
Karaoke Night at Jeannie's Bottle
Jeannie's Bottle
Athletes are invited to Jeannie's Bottle for a holiday themed karaoke night on Tuesday, December 11th from 4-7 p.m.

Date: Tuesday, December 11th, 2018
Location: 3839 Merle Hay Rd, Des Moines, IA
Coaches Corner 
Coaches' Guide Available Online!
The 2018-2019 SOIA Coaches' Guide is now available on our website !

Becoming a coach and coaching re-certification is now easier than ever!
Check out our new "Become a Coach" page:
You can now become certified/re-certified ONLINE

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. If you have a story idea for us about an athlete, coach, volunteer, or family please email Karen Whitman at for a chance for them to be featured in the newsletter!

*The 2019 SOIA Summer Games Bocce Competition will be held on May 23 and 24. The Summer Games Team Bocce Quota Request Form is due to or to the State office by January 14. Click here to download the request form. Final allocations of bocce teams will be based on completed Quota Request forms received from each delegation. Please contact Sally or Rhonda if you have any questions.
Event Calendar  

Visit our online calendar for event updates!

2- West Des Moines Polar Plunge
15- 12 Bars of Charity
15- Pistol Shoot Fundraiser

10- Southwest Area Basketball Skills
14-15 Winter Games
19- East Area Conference Basketball (Team & Skills)
19- South Central Area Basketball Skills
24- North Area Basketball Skills
24- West Central Area Basketball Skills (Ages 8-21)
26- West Central Area Basketball Skills (Ages 22+)
26- West Central Conference Basketball Tournament
26- NW Area Basketball Skills
26- Norwalk Dodgeball Fundraiser
30- Central Area Basketball Skills

2- East Central Conference Basketball
2- West Conference Team Basketball Tournament
2- Northeast Area Basketball Skills
7- Oskaloosa Young Athletes Play Day
9- Wartburg Unified Sports Day
9- Southeast Area Basketball Skills
10- East Central Area Basketball Skills
14- Southwest Area Bocce Competition
14- NC Basketball Skills
23- Warren County Polar Plunge