Timothy Shriver Visits Des Moines Public Schools
January started off with a very exciting visit from Special Olympics North America and Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics International Chairman! This visit was due to Des Moines Public Schools becoming an Urban Unified Champion School. Des Moines Public Schools have distinguished themselves as a leader in the Inclusion Revolution and a model for other urban schools looking to become Unified Champion Schools.

Day one of the visit included an inspirational address from Ray Roberts, former Seattle Seahawks Football player and current Director of Unified Champion Schools, Urban Development at Special Olympics North America. Roberts' message focused on the importance of being authentically you. Roberts asks the freshmen and sophomores in attendance this question, "Do you remember who you were before you were told who you should be?"

Day two was one of those marathon event days! The morning began with middle school student roundtable discussions facilitated by Shriver and Roberts; topics discussed were inclusion and their school climate. The morning concluded with a high energy pep rally, which ended with the ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding. The afternoon was filled with more roundtable discussions, this time with high school students.

The evening included Shriver visiting the Des Moines Public Schools' School Board Meeting and the Night of Inclusion reception. The reception's program included a few words from John Kliegl, President and CEO of Special Olympics Iowa; Bryan Coffey, Director of Unified Programs for Special Olympics Iowa; Matthew Smith, Des Moines Public Schools Associate Superintendent; and Shriver.

Students from across the district are excited to take the programming Special Olympics Iowa provides and use it to build a more inclusive community. Special Olympics North America, Shriver and Special Olympics Iowa are excited to see Des Moines Public Schools' transformation over the coming years.
Another Winter Games in The Books
The 2019 Winter Games was full of excitement and for good reason, the weather was perfect, athletes were recording personal bests and many were able to reconnect with old friends. At this year's Winter Games we saw record numbers in the snowshoeing competition and many athletes advancing their skills on the slopes.

Thank You!
A big thank you to everyone who came out for the 2019 Winter Games in Dubuque! We couldn't have done it without all of the help and support from the volunteers, coaches, sponsors and, of course, friends and family.
Mother Nature Not Cooperating For Area Basketball Competitions
Even though Mother Nature may not be cooperating the best, we have begun holding the area Basketball competitions. For those that are in the areas that have had Basketball Skills competitions canceled due to inclement weather, there will still be state qualifiers for each division. The State Office will send Delegation Managers a list of the athletes that have been selected to compete at the Mid-Winter Tournament. Results can also be found on the Special Olympics Iowa website. We wish everyone the best of luck in their upcoming competitions!

Healthy Athlete Screenings at Mid-Winter Tournament
This year at Mid-Winter Tournament there will be opportunities for those competing, as well as those not competing, to receive Healthy Hearing, Special Smiles and Health Promotion screenings. It is encouraged that any athletes that can attend these screenings do so, as they are free of charge. You do not have to be competing in the Mid-Winter Tournament to take advantage of the free screenings. Please reach out to Wendy Olinger at wolinger@soiowa.org with any questions you may have. 
Special Smiles Screenings
Date: Friday, March 15 (1:00pm - 6:00pm)
Location: Marriott Hotel in Coralville
Health Promotion Screenings
Date: Friday, March 15 (4:00pm - 8:00pm)
Location: Marriott Hotel in Coralville
Healthy Hearing Screenings
Date: Saturday, March 16 (9:00am - 1:00pm)
Location: Iowa City West High School

*At each location there will be signs directing you to the correct room*

Mid-Winter Tournament
The Mid-Winter Tournament is Special Olympics Iowa’s very own Championship Weekend tournament. Held annually in Iowa City, more than 1,000 athletes and Unified Sports partners can be seen competing at the University of Iowa Field House, Iowa City High and Iowa City West High School.

Date : March 15-16, 2019
Registration Deadline : February 18, 2019
Location : Iowa City (University of Iowa, Iowa City West High School, Iowa City High)

Mitchell Betsworth Featured in Sports Illustrated's 2018 Year in Photos Campaign
Mitchell Betsworth received quite the surprise when he opened the December 17, 2018 issue of Sports Illustrated. A photo of Betsworth was chosen to represent the National Special Olympics Games in the 2018 Year in Photos spread. Congratulations on the honor Mitchell!
Spring 2019 Polar Plunge® Dates
Whether you plunge solo or with coworkers, friends or family this is sure to be the "coolest" thing you do this year! The only thing that won't be freezing is your heart, which will be overflowing with warmth.

The Polar Plunge ®  is a signature fundraiser for Special Olympics and offers a unique opportunity for individuals and organizations to raise money and support Special Olympics Iowa athletes by jumping into frigid waters.

Upcoming Plunges:

Date : Saturday, February 23
Location : Lake Ahquabi
Cost : $75 fundraising minimum

Date : Saturday, March 23
Location : Lake Manawa (Council Bluffs Country Club)
Cost : $75 fundraising minimum

Date : Saturday, March 30
Location : Coralville Lake, West Overlook Beach
Cost : $75 fundraising minimum

Date : Saturday, March 30
Location : Pleasant Creek State Park - Palo
Cost : $75 fundraising minimum

Date : Saturday, April 13
Location : George Wyth State Park
Cost : $75 fundraising minimum
Karaoke Night at Jeannie's Bottle
Jeannie's Bottle
Athletes are invited to Jeannie's Bottle for a karaoke night on Tuesday, February 12 from 4-7 p.m.

Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Location: 3839 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines, Iowa
Special Olympics Night with the Wild
Athletes and their families are invited to Wells Fargo arena for what is sure to be a fun evening. The Iowa Wild will take on the San Jose Barracudas; following the game there will be a concert by Drop Kick Murphy.

Date: Friday, February 22, 2019 (Game time is 6pm)
Location: Wells Fargo Arena (730 3rd Street Des Moines)
Ticket Price:
Discounted Defense Preferred Tickets - $24
Discounted Defense Mezz Tickets - $16

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. Please email Karen Whitman at kwhitman@soiowa.org with your story ideas.

*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 registrations@soiowa.org 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!

1- Special Olympics Night with the Iowa Wolves
2- East Central Conference Basketball
2- Northeast Area Basketball Skills
2- West Conference Team Basketball Tournament
7- Oskaloosa Young Athletes Play Day
9- Southeast Area Basketball Skills
9- Wartburg Unified Sports Day
10- East Central Area Basketball Skills
14- NC Basketball Skills
14- Southwest Area Bocce Competition
23- East Area Swimming
23- Warren County Polar Plunge®

2- Cornell Unified Sports Day
2- Des Moines Challenge Day
3- Northeast Area Spring Games
5- NAIA National Basketball Special Olympics Clinic - Sioux City
16- State Mid-Winter Tournament
21- Dubuque Young Athlete Play Day
21- North Area Regional Swimming
23- Council Bluffs Polar Plunge®
26- West Des Moines Young Athlete Play Day
30- Cedar Falls Challenge Day
30- East Central Area Swimming
30- Iowa City Polar Plunge®
30- Cedar Rapids Polar Plunge®

4- Cedar Rapids Young Athlete Play Day
6- East Central Area Spring Games
9- Southwest Area Spring Games (Track & Field)
11- North Area Spring Games
13- Central Area Spring Games
13- East Area Spring Games
13- Northwest Area Spring Games
13- South Central Area Spring Games
13- Southeast Area Track and Field
13- Cedar Falls/Waterloo Polar Plunge®
16- West Central Area Spring Games
16- West Central Area Swimming
18- North Central Spring Games
!9- Ankeny Young Athletes Play Day
23- Des Moines Young Athlete Play Day
23- Youth Games
26- River Hills Young Athlete Pay Day