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All the medals waiting patiently

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Ready, Set, Olympics!

Learn How to Support the Athletes Participating in Special Olympics Texas!

As spring approaches in the distance, so does one of the most rewarding events for The Woodlands community! Special Olympics Texas (SOTX)  is working with The Woodlands Kiwanis Club to put together a track and field event for athletes on March 23rd at The Woodlands High School. This event will be a spectacular way to provide the athletes with practice leading up to the SOTX area regional and state competitions. Event coordinator Royce Brooks started out as a volunteer and soon realized his love for this organization. Almost twenty years later, Royce has never looked back. “To be on the field and hear the special Olympians sing the national anthem is the most moving event,” says Royce. Truly, the mission behind Special Olympics Texas is one to adamantly love and support. On their website, they describe their mission as wanting to, “provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.” Through these competitions, their goal is to “develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.” East Region Program Director, Kristen Basel also describes the Special Olympics Texas community as a homecoming where everyone comes together to compete and practice together. “It’s really cool when you know you have community connections and volunteers and can take a step back and live in the moment.”  Although I’m already hooked by their mission statement, the history behind the organization is even more heartwarming!

Special Olympics Texas began in 1963 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver who started a summer day camp at her home in Maryland. Eunice’s goal was to create a place where children and adults with intellectual disabilities could explore their capabilities in a variety of physically demanding ways. Several years later in 1968, Chicago Park District and the Kennedy Foundation created the First International Special Olympics Summer Games which had 1,000 athletes from 26 U.S. States as well as athletes from Canada. At the time, the only offered competitive events were athletics, floor hockey, and aquatics. In December of 1968, Special Olympics was established as a non-profit charitable organization under the laws of the District of Columbia, and from there it flourished beautifully! For more history on SOTX, go to www.sotx.org/sotx-history-timeline for an in-depth timeline.

Currently, SOTX offers a gigantic variety of competitive sports such as athletics, bowling, cheering, cycling, tennis, aquatics, bocce, powerlifting, and so many others to choose from! They even have several games in the works like the recently popularized pickleball. After athletes choose a particular sports genre, then they must train under a certified coach who understands the rules of the sport and understands the guidelines of SOTX competitions and events. Conroe Stars coach David Kight can attest to the large variety of sports and work it takes to be a part of the organization as he has been involved since 1992. When talking with David, he mentioned that Conroe Stars must train for their event at least eight weeks before they go out and compete or practice for competitions. But what David really loves is seeing his students strive to be their very best and watching them create relationships through these events. “It’s like a big family!” Special Olympics Texas has not only become a huge family, but it’s a community that continues to come together to create an even bigger interconnected family ready to support each other.

Now we get to my favorite part of the entire article: the fundraising events! Because SOTX is a non-profit, they host several different events to raise money which is then used to help feed athletes, coaches, and volunteers as well as support many other aspects of the events. These fundraisers also help raise awareness for Special Olympics Texas. A popular fundraising event is the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Texas which has continued to grow since its original start over forty years ago. As the largest public awareness and grass-roots fundraiser, over 100,000 law enforcement members carry the “Flame of Hope” into the opening ceremony of local competitions. Included in this grand fundraising platform are smaller fundraising avenues such as Plane Pull, Polar Plunge, and Tip-A-Cop to name a few. The popular fundraising event, Tip-A-Cop partners with Texas Roadhouse where an athlete, aka the guest of honor, pairs with a cop who is the server for the night. Together they raise funds for SOTX as well as spread awareness. There are so many ways to support the athletes of SOTX like donating or volunteering to help make the events something special to remember. If Special Olympics Texas is something you would love to sponsor or become a part of, please contact Kristen Basel at 832-617-0930 or at kbasel@sotx.org. You can also contact Mary Buford at 832-627-0896 or mbuford@sotx.org who can give you further direction! All it takes is a loving community willing to support the dreams of those around them!

  • All the medals waiting patiently
  • Winners all lined up on pedestals
  • Teamwork makes the dream work!
  • Athletes and families walking under the arch
  • Special Olympics Texas arch
  • The orange flag is up!
  • Kevin Brady with athletes and family!
  • Kevin Brady joining to watch the games
  • Kiwanis Club Members!