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story.lead_photo.caption Lorne Lawson, with Reinhardt Construction, uses a cut-off grinder to remove metal signage from the wall of the gymnasium at the Special Olympics Missouri Training for Life Campus. Due to damage from the May 22 tornado, SOMO recently announced it will be moving its State Outdoor Games to elsewhere in Jefferson City. Photo by Joe Gamm / News Tribune.

May's tornado has caused organizers to move some sites for the upcoming Special Olympics Missouri State Outdoor Games, but they will take place in Jefferson City.

Susan Stegeman, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit organization, said many of the events scheduled to be at the Training for Life Campus have been moved.

The tornado that ripped through Jefferson City the night of May 22 struck the campus, causing widespread damage to the grounds and the 32,500-square-foot structure. That facility housed health and wellness, fitness, sports skills development and sports leadership training centers. It also contained offices for SOMO and SOMO-Central Region.

SOMO will use multiple rooms at Capitol Plaza Hotel for the games, Stegeman said. The organization will host the Outdoor Games' dance, dinner and bingo there.

The Input Council, which gives athletes a chance to share opinions and ideas and to provide input on the games, has been moved to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, where it had been in the past.

Organizations have been very helpful in making room for the Outdoor Games, Stegeman said.

"They've been very accommodating," she said. "Special Olympics is very blessed to have a community that supports it this way."

The structure on the $18.5 million, 16.5-acre campus at 305 Special Olympics Drive, off Missouri 179 and Christy Drive, has been boarded up since the storm as the insurance company and contractor assess the damage.

With it closed up, SOMO has been forced to rent office space elsewhere.

"The assessment (of damage) is ongoing," Stegeman said. "Demolition is underway."

Part of the difficulty, she added, is as material is removed, hidden damage can be found.

She said the contractor and insurance company have worked together to identify problems. The contractor has found things the insurance company didn't, and the insurance company has found issues the contractor was unaware of, Stegeman said.

The structure has damage to the roof, 22 trusses, drywall, flooring, doors, signage, outdoor lighting, landscaping and much more, she said.

"It sounds like a lot," she said. But on the bright side, she added, "the outer shell is in good condition. And some interior rooms are good."

Insurance covers most of the damage.

"We have no clue of the cost," Stegeman said. "(Assessors) know that they're not done yet. It's the same thing with the timeline — that's what everybody wants to know."

People have donated about $12,000 toward the campus repairs, Stegeman said. Much of that money will go toward "wish list items" — like upgrades to bathroom doors so they have a power-assist or to improve the windows in the gym so they don't glare as much.

The outdoor games kick off at 8 a.m. Sept. 27 with bocce at Blair Oaks High School, golf at Oak Hills Golf Course and tennis at Lincoln University Tennis Complex.

The games will continue through the weekend.

Special Olympics Missouri will host a parade and opening ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Binder Park. The ceremony will include the Parade of Athletes, lighting of the Flame of Hope and traditional declaration of the opening of the games and a fireworks show. It is free and open to the public.

Softball competitions begin at 8 a.m. Sept. 28 at Binder Sports Complex. Disc golf begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 at the complex.

Flag football is 8 a.m. Sept. 29 at the Helias Catholic High School sports complex.

Volunteers for the games are needed.

The organization could use more than 350 volunteers during the event. There is particular need in tennis, flag football and golf individual skills. Duties could include assisting athletes at events, helping staff prepare for events, or shooting photos and video.

To volunteer, visit

Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 16,400 athletes participate in 16 Olympic-type sports throughout the state. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy as they share gifts and friendship with their fellow athletes, families and friends.

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