Special Olympics eyes showcase training facility

Would move HQ from Jefferson City to Columbia

Special Olympics Missouri has started fundraising $12.5 million to build a Training for Life facility just south of Columbia.

The 44,000-square foot facility will allow Special Olympics Missouri athletes to train year round.

The facility would be the fourth of its kind worldwide, which Special Olympics Missouri President and CEO Mark Musso said will attract Special Olympics programs from all over the world to the state.

“They’ll want to come here to see how we are doing it,” Musso said. “Few programs have the space that we will have.”

The new facility will allow for Special Olympics Missouri headquarters in Jefferson City to merge with the agency’s area office already located in Columbia.

Musso said the plan for the new facility was already in place in 2008 when the agency acquired 11 acres of land between Columbia and Jefferson City.

“It will allow outdoor training and indoor training for our 21 sports year round,” he said.

The CEO said the concept of the facility is exactly like that of the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

The facility will also include space for Special Olympics to offer health screenings.

“Our 17,000 athletes in Missouri quite often don’t receive the health screenings they need,” Musso said. “We want to make sure our athletes are in the best health possible.”

He said the new training facility will also require additional Special Olympics Missouri staff for the weekly camps and additional programs.

Fundraising for the new facility includes significant tax credits from the state that will match donated funds.

Musso said the agency also has formed a steering committee of 75 people to plan fundraising events and actively seek donations.

“Our hope is to have the money raised to build in 2016 and move into the building in 2017,” he said.

He said it’s important to note that Special Olympics Missouri events in Jefferson City will not change. The change in location will only affect the office headquarters.

It’s really a place for them to call their own,” Musso said of the new facility. “I have been involved with Special Olympics since 1972 and I have seen firsthand how we are often the last group on the priority list and get bumped out of facilities.

“This is a chance for our athletes to have a place to call home.”

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