Inaugural Class Inducted into Special Olympics Iowa Hall of Fame
Special Olympics Iowa inducted its inaugural Hall of Fame class on December 3 at the Iowa Hall of Pride. The six individuals inducted were Sara Cummings (Maxwell), Angela Oberlander (Des Moines), Jesse Pease (Sioux City), Nancy Shannon (Long Grove), Ray Strekal (Perry) and Rhonda Thornton (Spencer).

The mission of Special Olympics is to help persons with intellectual disabilities to participate as productive and respected members of the community. Inductees are individuals who continually strive to reach this goal by being leaders and innovators in the Special Olympics movement.
Hall of Fame inductees were, from left to right, Ray Strekal, Jesse Pease, Angela Oberlander, Sara Cummings, Nancy Shannon and Rhonda Thornton.
Final Countdown to 2019 Winter Games
With over 280 athletes and 8 unified partners from 49 delegations coming to the Winter Games, it is sure to be an exciting two days. Athletes will compete in alpine skiing, cross county skiing, showshoeing, speed skating and figure skating events.

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

Calling All Volunteers!
If you enjoy winter sports or just want to be a part of the fun at the Winter Games, we have a great opportunity for you to volunteer. There is a variety of needs and time slots, so use the link below to see what is still available. Thank you!

Iowan Named Big 12 Conference Special Olympics Female Athlete of the Year
Iowa native Marissa Schletzbaum named 2018-2019 Big 12 Conference Special Olympics Female Athlete of the Year. Andrew “Drew” Bowsen (Oklahoma) was named Big 12 Conference Special Olympics Male Athlete of the Year. The pair was recognized at the 2018 Big 12 Conference Football Championship game on Saturday, December 1. As part of their recognition they were able to help with the coin toss at the beginning of the game and were recognized during a game timeout.

Each year the Big 12 Conference honors one male and one female as Big 12 Conference Special Olympics Athletes of the Year. Athletes are required to be from one of the five states with schools in the conference.
Unified Volleyball Intramurals
The University of Iowa welcomed Unified Volleyball into their intramural program in 2018. The Unified Volleyball Intramurals consisted of six weeks of programming where Special Olympics athletes join university students in tournament-style play. Over the course of six weeks, the athletes and university partners develop friendships while building on the fundamental skills of volleyball.

The athletes and students enjoy having opportunities to connect through the growing programs at Iowa. The University of Iowa continues to lead the way for Intramural Programs in the state. In addition to Unified Volleyball, they host Unified Flag Football and Basketball programs. Congratulations to the championship team!
Special Olympics Iowa Will Have Five New Board Members in 2019
Starting January 1 there will be five new members to the Special Olympics Iowa Board of Directors.

Newly appointed members include:
  • Dawn Criss - Dawn resides in Winterset and has been the area director for the South Central region for 4 years.
  • Patrick Gulbranson - Patrick is from Stuart and has been a Special Olympics Athlete for 19 years.
  • Jason Miller - Jason has been coach and delegation manager for 8 years in Muscatine, where he also resides.
  • Lisa Spencer - Lisa is from Ankeny and has been a Special Olympics Athlete for 20 years.
  • Angela Wood - She is a Promotions Manager at Casey's General Store located in Ankeny, where she also resides.

Patrick and Lisa will be the Athlete Representatives through 2021.
Norwalk Dodgeball Tournament
Get your team together and get ready to dodge! The Norwalk Dodgeball Tournament is coming up on Saturday, January 26, 2019. Register today!

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

Spring 2019 Polar Plunge ® Dates
Remembering Traci Lee Long
Traci Lee Long (47) passed away on December 1 at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. She was involved with Special Olympics for 23 years, during that time she enjoyed competing in numerous games and was a Global Messenger. Traci was a board member for Special Olympics Iowa in 2016. She enjoyed traveling with and sharing her passion for the Special Olympics. She loved all animals and was an avid Iowa Hawkeye fan.

During Traci's visitation her family handed out the many Special Olympics medals she had won. Her memory, cheerful personality and dedication to the Special Olympics will live on for many years to come.
Special Olympics Night with the Iowa Wolves
Join us for an exciting evening cheering on the Iowa Wolves. The fun will begin with a pre-game basketball scrimmage featuring Special Olympics athletes. The Iowa Wolves will tip-off against the South Bay Lakers at 7:00pm and following the game will be a concert by Craig Campbell.

Date: Friday, February 1, 2019
Location: Wells Fargo Arena (730 3rd Street Des Moines)
Ticket Price: Starts at $5 a ticket

Karaoke Night at Jeannie's Bottle
Jeannie's Bottle
Athletes are invited to Jeannie's Bottle for a karaoke night on Tuesday, January 8 from 4-7 p.m.

Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2018
Location: 3839 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines, Iowa
Special Olympics Night with the Wild
Athletes and their families are invited to Wells Fargo 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 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 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!

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- Norwalk Dodgeball Fundraiser
26- NW Area Basketball Skills
26- West Central Area Basketball Skills (Ages 22+)
26- West Central Conference Basketball Tournament
30- Central Area Basketball Skills

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- Warren County Polar Plunge®

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®