Derek Sandbothe shows off the renderings of the Training for Life Campus

Derek Sandbothe shows off the renderings of the Training for Life Campus

Special Olympics Missouri continues plans for their Training for Life Campus, The 44,000-square-foot campus will be located on donated land in Jefferson City, and will offer year-round training opportunities for athletes, coaches and volunteers who live throughout Missouri.

The campus will assist the more than 15,000 current athletes (and more than 108,000 Missourians with intellectual disabilities not yet participating) in the sate to not only train for 21 different sports, but also provide free health screenings and a place to learn life skills.

It is time for these athletes to gain a home field advantage…and you can help.

Derek Sandbothe has been with Special Olympics for 15 years and always loved sports.  Derek started playing tee-ball when he was five, but when he was old enough for baseball, him and his mom decided it would be best if he stopped playing.

“Because of my lack of reaction, I ended up dropping out of hard ball,” Sandbothe said.  “My brother played all the way through high school which was cool for him, but it kind of made me feel like an outsider, because I was never really good enough to compete at that level.  I understand that and I’m OK with that…but I wanted more.”

When Sandbothe graduated from high school he learned about Special Olympics and from then on it felt like his life had a purpose.

“Before Special Olympics, it was go to work, come home,” recalled Sandbothe.  “This organization (Special Olympics) has made my life tremendously better.”

Hear more about Derek’s story and how the Training for Life Campus will benefit athletes for generations and help Special Olympics athletes gain a Home Field Advantage

The Training for Life Campus would open up opportunities for anyone with intellectual disabilities to experience what Special Olympics is all about.  Not only would the campus act as a training ground for current and new athletes, but it would allow and encourage people to try out different sports they may not otherwise be exposed to.

As I talked with Derek, he told me about the Healthy Athletes program developed by Special Olympics.  Prior to events, each athlete must go through a physical and then routine screenings as they continue competition.  However, most of the time it is not routine.  Special Olympics offers free screenings, but only at their state games which take place three times a year. Not all athletes will compete in those events and for those that do, time becomes an issue when trying to go through the screening process.  Yet in order to compete, athletes must be screened regularly, which could incur high costs for families.

The Training for Life Campus would allow athletes to come any time of the year for screenings to have their feet and ankles evaluated, hearing screenings, dental checkups, eye exams and more.  All of these services would be provided at the campus free of charge to athletes and their families.

“It’s remarkable,” said Sandbothe. “Because most people don’t have the kind of funding to pay for that out of pocket cost by going to a doctor’s office for this.  The Training for Life Campus will accommodate for that with no cost to the athlete.”

Some numbers that jumped out at me:
59% of the athletes served by this program were in the wrong shoe size
26% failed hearing tests
49% have at least one skin or nail condition
39% have untreated tooth decay
35% need new prescription glasses

Donors are supporting the Campus project in a big way. Even athletes are supporting the fundraising campaign. They need your support to meet their fundraising goals and start building the Campus.

Click here to donate

Supporting the SOMO Training for Life Campus is easy. You can consider these options for donating:

-Tax credits for businesses, individuals and families
-Naming opportunities for various areas of the Campus
-Gifts of stocks, real estate or property
-Direct support for a SOMO athlete
-Annual or monthly pledges
-Matching gifts from employers

Special Olympics Missouri is nearing 80% of their goal to build this $15.8 million facility.  In order to receive the challenge award from the Mabee Foundation of $1 Million, Special Olympics Missouri must reach their goal by April 15.

What’s also beneficial to donors is that cash or pledges are welcome, so you don’t necessarily need to have cash available by the deadline.  A pledge will also count towards the goal.

Special Olympics Missouri

Derek is pictured here front row second from right at SOMO’s first Athlete Leadership Program’s University. The twice a year, two-day training allows athletes to take educational courses to help them become leaders within their communities. This new program will also play a pivotal role in the campus once completed.