Special Olympics Missouri will host its first camps since the May 2019 tornado severely damaged the organization's Training for Life Campus in Jefferson City.
It's been a long trip from that fateful day to now, said Susan Stegeman, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit.
The EF-3 tornado that struck Jefferson City caused approximately $5.4 million in damage to the campus. It broke windows, compromised the roof and damaged 22 roof trusses. It ripped up landscaping and knocked down light poles.
Now that repairs are close to complete — crews Wednesday were placing the last few pieces of hardware on glass doors — SOMO and the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department are partnering to offer day camps this summer for youth with intellectual disabilities.
For the first week (which begins Monday), Camp Star will be conducted at Turkey Creek Golf Course. However, beginning July 6 and continuing through Aug. 3, the camps will all be at the campus, Stegeman said.
The camps are intended to bring a sense of community to the children who participate and highlight JC Parks Stars, a sports training program for Jefferson City-area residents with intellectual or physical disabilities.
On top of all the challenges the campus faced following the tornado, it also had to deal with delays to repairs and events the COVID-19 pandemic caused.
"We are just starting to get events scheduled and back on our calendar," Stegeman said. "We are creating 'Back to Play' protocols, which will ensure safety of our athletes and volunteers, taking into consideration guidelines from Special Olympics, Inc., the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), other sports organizations and partner agencies."
Once the SOMO board approves guidelines, the campus will reopen, she said.
Otherwise, there isn't much scheduled for the campus until "Central Area Bocce," which is set for Aug. 22, and the State Outdoor Games in late September.