Special Olympics Missouri has canceled the State Summer Games scheduled to be held May 31-June 2 in Springfield due to tornado damage that devastated the organization's headquarters in Jefferson City.
"We are heartbroken that we have to cancel State Summer Games," Susan Stegeman, SOMO president and CEO, stated in a news release. "The athletes deserve better, but based on the severe tornado damage to SOMO headquarters, the extreme flooding throughout the state and a grim 10-day forecast, we had to make this call."
The top priority of the staff is the athletes, according to SOMO Board Chair Gary Wilbers, but he added, "As a board, we cannot in good conscience expect our team to execute these games after suffering the devastation of losing the campus that they, and so many of you, have worked so hard to make a home for our athletes. Their physical, emotional and mental health must be the top priority at this time as we rebuild the Training for Life Campus."
More than 100 volunteers were at the campus Friday to help clean up in preparation for repair. Volunteers from Jefferson City High School, Helias Catholic High School, Mizzou baseball, GFI, Gibbs Center and other Special Olympics programs donated their time and resources this week.
Individuals and businesses interested in donating to the rebuilding efforts can text SOMOREBUILD to 71777. Information regarding any future programming events is forthcoming. SOMO's social media accounts will post future updates on the rebuilding effort.
Stegeman praised the staff and army of volunteers helping in recovery, noting, "We will rebuild and SOMO will be stronger than ever."