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About Us

Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) is a statewide organization which provides individuals with intellectual disabilities year-round sports training and athletic competition. Individuals who are at 8 years old and are identified as having a intellectual disability are eligible for participation.


With seven Regional offices throughout the state, Special Olympics Wisconsin serves nearly 10,000 athletes in approximately 180 communities statewide. SOWI is one of the 52 state programs and one of more than 170 countries providing this opportunity to nearly 3.7 million athletes around the world.


Mission

To provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities 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.


Guiding Values

  • Mutual Respect
  • Positive Attitude
  • Accountability
  • Teamwork
  • Dedication

Special Olympics does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, nationality, origin or political philosophy.


Research

As part of the Strategic Research and Evaluation Plan, Special Olympics Inc. (SOI) has conducted several studies concerning the population that Special Olympics serves and society's attitudes towards them. View Special Olympics Research Studies.


For more information about Special Olympics Wisconsin contact Special Olympics Wisconsin Headquarters at (800) 552-1324 (608) 222-1324 or e-mail info@specialolympicswisconsin.org.

Headquarters Staff

Operations
(608) 442-5660Dennis AlldridgePresident/CEO
(608) 442-5663Carol EllisChief Operating Officer
(608) 442-5665Faye BorchertDatabase Manager
(608) 442-5666Mary HensenAccounting Manager
(608) 442-5664Theresa RossmanGift Records Manager
(608) 442-5675Barb BurgVolunteer Records Manager
(608) 442-5667Rebekah PhillipsAdministrative Assistant
Competition & Training
(608) 442-5661Bob WhiteheadVice President of Program Services
(608) 442- 5679Angela LillethunDirector of Training and Competition
(608) 442-5677Samantha SoteloAthlete Records Manager
(608) 442-5683Sara RollinSports Event Manager
(608) 442-5682Samantha StoryCompetition and Training Assistant
Field Services & Initiatives
(608) 442-5673Jeanne HrovatSenior Director of Field Services and Initiatives
(608) 442-5674Jenn StreatorDirector of Field Services
(608) 442-5676Melissa SchoenbrodtDirector of Athlete Wellness Initiatives
(715) 803-4931Jessica ChuckelHealthy Communities Project Director
(262) 241-7786 Krysten KirschDirector of Youth Initiatives
Development
(608) 442-5668Julie BueddingDirector of Development, Law Enforcement Torch Run
(608) 442-5662Matt BurrDirector of Development – Government Relations & Strategic Grants
(608) 442-5670Bari BatesLETR Assistant
(608) 442-5678Alexandria MoellerDevelopment Assistant
Regina McFarlandDirect of Development Individual Giving
Marketing & Communications
(608) 442-5669Jennifer WagnerVice President of Marketing
(608) 442-5672Christina HarrisDirector of Communications
(608) 442-5671Andrew KlossnerVisual Media Manager

Board of Directors 2013-2014


CHAIR

Paul Baniel
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay, WI
Term Expires: 2014


CHAIR-ELECT

Jeff Mahloch
Briggs & Stratton Corporation
Wauwatosa, WI
Term Expires: 2015


TREASURER

Angela Achenbach
Baker Tilly Virchow Krause
Milwaukee, WI
Term Expires: 2016


SECRETARY

Lisa Walter
UW-Stout Police Department
Menomonie, WI
Term Expires: 2015


Tiffany Bean

Kwik Trip
La Crosse, WI
Term Expires: 2015


Mike Buck

Mega Foods
Eau Claire, WI
Term Expires: 2015


Bill Carollo

Big Ten Conference
Shorewood, WI
Term Expires: 2015


John Cayer

Kimberly Clark
Mequon, WI
Term Expires: 2014


Dr. Michael Clark
Ministry St. Clare’s Hospital
Weston, WI
Term Expires: 2016


Martha Hill
Sheboygan, WI
Term Expires: 2016


Gary Karner

WIAC
Madison, WI
Term Expires: 2014


Brian Kesseler

Johnson Controls
Glendale, WI
Term Expires: 2016


Ashley Kobel

Two Rivers, WI
Term Expires: 2015


Brittany Ogden

Murphy Desmond S.C.
Madison, WI
Term Expires: 2015


Carolyn S. Smith

Marquette University
Milwaukee, WI
Term Expires: 2016


Jerry Vite

Mequon, WI
Term Expires: 2015


Vince Vitrano

Journal Broadcast Group
Milwaukee, WI
Term Expires: 2016


Ed Wall
Wisconsin Department of Corrections
Madison, WI
Term Expires: 2017

George Whitely
Stephan & Brady
Madison, WI
Term Expires: 2017



*All members listed above are independent, voting members.

SPECIAL ADVISOR TO THE BOARD
Dr. Marsha Mailick
Waisman Center, UW-Madison
Madison, WI

 

For more information, contact

Alexandria Moeller, Development Assistant
amoeller@specialolympicswisconsin.org
Direct Line: (608) 442-5662

 

History

June 1963
Eunice Kennedy Shriver starts a summer day camp for children and adults with mental retardation at her home in Maryland to explore their capabilities in a variety of sports and physical activities.

July 20, 1968
Together with the Chicago Park District, the Kennedy Foundation plans and underwrites the First International Special Olympics Summer Games, held in Chicago's Soldier Field, with 1,000 athletes with mental retardation from 26 states and Canada competing in athletics, floor hockey, and aquatics.

December 1968
Special Olympics, Inc. is established as a not-for-profit charitable organization under the laws of the District of Columbia. The National Association for Retarded Citizens, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the American Association on Mental Deficiency pledge their support for this first systematic effort to provide sports training and athletic competition for individuals with mental retardation based on the Olympic tradition and spirit.

1969
Special Olympics Wisconsin holds its first state track meet in West Allis, with 200 athletes participating.

August 13-15, 1970
The Second International Special Olympics Summer Games take place in Chicago, Illinois, with 2,000 athletes from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, France, and Puerto Rico.

February 1972
Special Olympics Wisconsin is incorporated as a non-for-profit charitable organization under the laws of the state of Wisconsin.

August 13-18, 1972
The Third International Special Olympics Summer Games take place at the University of California-Los Angeles with 2,500 participants.

August 7-11, 1975
The Fourth International Special Olympics Summer Games take place at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, with 3,200 athletes from 10 countries taking part. The Games are broadcast nationwide on CBS' "Sports Spectacular."

February 5-11, 1977
The First International Special Olympics Winter Games are held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with more than 500 athletes competing in skiing and skating events. CBS, ABC, and NBC television networks cover the Games.

August 8-13, 1979
The Fifth International Special Olympics Summer Games take place at the State University of New York at Brockport with more than 3,500 athletes from every state in the U.S. and more than 20 countries.

1980-1981
Special Olympics launches a training and certification program for coaches and publishes the first Sports Skills Guide.

March 8-13, 1981
The Second International Special Olympics Winter Games are held at the Village of Smugglers' Notch and Stowe, Vermont, with more than 600 Alpine and cross country skiers and ice skaters participating.

1981
History is made as the first Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics is held in Wichita, Kansas. The original Torch Run takes place with the authorization and support of Wichita Police Chief Richard LaMunyon. The original six Torch Runners are: Robert G. Bachman, Don Ipsen, Walt Kuykendall, Jack Leon, Jan McCloud and Kirk Miles.

July 12-18, 1983
The Sixth International Special Olympics Summer Games are held at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. A crowd of more than 60,000 attends the Opening Ceremonies and approximately 4,000 athletes participate.

March 24-29, 1985
Athletes from 14 countries are represented in skiing and skating events at the Third International Special Olympics Winter Games in Park City, Utah.

1986
Wisconsin joins the Law Enforcement Torch Run® movement along with 42 other U.S. states by holding its first Final Leg in conjunction with the State Summer Games. Dale Brunner, Milwaukee Police Department serves as the first State Torch Run Director through 1999.

September 1986
The International Year of Special Olympics, culminating in the 1987 International Special Olympics Summer Games, is launched at the United Nations in New York City under the banner "Special Olympics-Uniting the World."

July 1987
More than 30,000 law enforcement officers from every state in the U.S. and seven countries run 26,000 miles in the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics. The 1987 Torch Run raises more than $2 million.

July 31-August 8, 1987
The University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana, host the Seventh International Special Olympics Summer Games. More than 4,700 athletes from more than 70 countries participate in 1987's largest amateur sports event. The Games are covered in Sports Illustrated and Time, and reach more than 150 million people worldwide.

October 1987
Jimmy and Vicki Iovine of A&M Records and Bobby Shriver produce A Very Special Christmas, featuring holiday music performed by top pop chart music performers, with all album proceeds benefiting Special Olympics programs worldwide.

February 1988
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) signs an historic agreement officially recognizing Special Olympics.

July 1988
Special Olympics Unified Sports™ is launched at the annual Special Olympics Conference in Reno, Nevada.

1989
Special Olympics Wisconsin recruits Dennis Alldridge as President/CEO.

April 1-8, 1989
The Fourth International Special Olympics Winter Games are held in Reno, Nevada, and Lake Tahoe, California. More than 1,000 athletes from 18 countries participate. US Olympic Speed Skater leads SOWI’s delegation of speed skaters, alpine and Nordic skiers, and coaches.

February 11, 1990
ABC-TV's "Life Goes On" - the first prime time television drama starring an actor with mental retardation devotes an hour-long episode to Special Olympics.

February 14, 1990
Sargent Shriver announces the historic decision by the Soviet Union to join the Special Olympics movement. Terry Dolan from UW-Madison Waisman Center travelled with Special Olympics ambassadors to USSR. Special Olympics is the first charitable organization to implement such a program at local and national levels in the USSR.

June 1990
Special Olympics founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, attends SOWI Summer Games.

July 20-27, 1990
The third European Special Olympics Summer Games are held in Strathclyde, Scotland. Thirty European countries are represented by 2,400 athletes participating in eight official and five demonstration sports.

July 19-27, 1991
The eighth Special Olympics World Summer Games* are held in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Six thousand athletes from more than 100 countries make this the largest sporting event in the world in 1991. (*The official name changes in 1991 from International Games to Special Olympics World Summer or World Winter Games.)

February 1992
Dale Brunner, Wisconsin’s first Torch Run Director, is one of 11 original inductees into the International Richard LaMunyon Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Hall of Fame.

September 30, 1992
Special Olympics kicks off its 25th Anniversary Celebration-"Together We Win"-at the United Nations in New York City, where the 25th Anniversary Traveling Exhibit is officially launched before beginning a nationwide tour.

March 20-27, 1993
The fifth Special Olympics World Winter Games are held in Salzburg and Schladming, Austria, with 1,600 athletes from more than 50 countries participating in five winter sports. These are the first World Winter Games held outside North America.

July 1-9, 1995
Over 7,000 athletes from 143 countries gather in New Haven, Connecticut, for competition in 21 sports at the ninth Special Olympics World Summer Games.

November 1995
Wisconsin hosts the 12th annual International Law Enforcement Torch Run® conference in Milwaukee, as "Harley Night" sets the new standard for entertainment at a Torch Run Conference.

February 1-8, 1997
Nearly 2,000 athletes from 73 countries compete in five Olympic-type winter sports in Toronto/Collingwood, Ontario, Canada for the sixth Special Olympics World Winter Games. This event is the world's largest winter multi-sport event in 1997.

Spring 1998
Special Olympics Wisconsin places Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs) as a priority, with staff beginning to include ALPs in their year's action plans.

July 20, 1998
Special Olympics celebrates 30 years of heroes with the introduction of twelve 30th Anniversary Global Messengers.

December 1998
SOWI implements the first Agency Accreditation Application process to ensure that SOWI consistently continues to meet the highest standards we have set to fulfill the mission of Special Olympics in every community in Wisconsin.

December 17, 1998
President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted a Christmas concert at the White House-entitled "A Very Special Christmas from Washington D.C."-to celebrate Special Olympics 30th Anniversary. The event marked the first time a United States President has hosted a Special Olympics gala at the White House. It also was the first time that artists from the successful "A Very Special Christmas" album series gathered to perform together.

February, 1999
Glendale athlete Cindy Bentley becomes the first ever ALPs athlete to be elected to the Special Olympics Wisconsin Board of Directors.

March 1999
Wisconsin hosts its very first Polar Plunge® fundraising event at Lake Onalaska with 315 Plungers and raised more than $30,000. After attending the Law Enforcement Torch Run® International Conference in Anchorage, Alaska in November of 1998, Wisconsin law enforcement and staff attendees participated and/or observed their first Polar Plunge event and brought the event back to Wisconsin!

June 26-July 4, 1999
The tenth Special Olympics World Summer Games are held in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area (Triangle) in North Carolina. Over 7,000 athletes representing 150 countries compete in 19 sports.

January 16, 2000
ABC-TV's The Wonderful World of Disney-the first prime time television movie about the life of a Special Olympics athlete-"The Loretta Claiborne Story."

2000
Wausau, Eau Claire, Madison and Pleasant Prairie joined the Coulee Region for a total of five Polar Plunges with 1,500 plungers, raising more than $160,000.

May 18-22, 2000
The Special Olympics China Millennium March took place throughout China. Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with Special Olympics athletes, lit the Flame of Hope at the Great Wall of China, and celebrated the Special Olympics movement with gala events in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Special Olympics China declared that they would increase the current number of Special Olympics athletes from 50,000 to 500,000 by 2004.

May 20-23, 2000
The first-ever Global Athlete Congress took place in The Netherlands. 60 athletes representing every region of the world came together to discuss the future of the Special Olympics movement, including ALPs athletes Cindy Bentley and Craig Schimming, and volunteer Tom Pezzi. Despite differences in language, culture, age and gender, these athletes were able to discuss topics, challenge existing ideals and vote on new resolutions. Cindy Bentley was chosen as an International Games Messenger. The Congress kicked off her four-year term.

May 27- June 4, 2000
More than 2,000 athletes from 53 Special Olympics Programs representing Europe and Eurasia participated in the 2000 Special Olympics European Games in Groningen, the Netherlands.

December 14, 2000
President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted a Christmas concert at the White House-entitled "A Very Special Christmas from Washington D.C."-to celebrate the Spirit of Special Olympics. Cindy Bentley and local coach Sue Neupert attend the concert. The event marked the second time a United States President has hosted a Special Olympics gala at the White House. It also was the second time artists from the successful "A Very Special Christmas" album series gathered to perform together.

2001
Oshkosh, Green Bay and Muskego joined the fun for a total of eight Polar Plunges held across the state with 3,000 plungers, 12,350 spectators and raised nearly $422,000.

February 2001
Wisconsin athlete and Global Messenger Cindy Bentley visits Greece to take part in the lighting of the official World Games Torch lighting, as it traveled around the world to Anchorage, Alaska for the 2001 World Winter Games. Milwaukee athlete Michael Lunz took part in the Torch Run in Alaska as one of the first ever athletes to be a torch runner with law enforcement officers.

March 4-11, 2001
Over 1,800 athletes representing approximately 70 countries competed in seven Olympic-type winter sports at the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Anchorage, Alaska. The 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games was the largest sporting event ever held in the history of Alaska.

March 5, 2001
The United States Senate Committee on Appropriation conducted a public hearing, chaired by the Honorable Senator Ted Stevens, on promoting health for individuals with Mental Retardation. Special Olympics presented a Special Report on the Health Status and of Needs of Individuals with Mental Retardation, which identifies actions to improve the quality and length of life of persons with mental retardation. A panel of distinguished speakers in the fields of mental retardation, healthcare, and physical fitness testified.

March 5-10, 2001
First-ever Global Youth Summit is held in conjunction with the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games. Thirty-four students with and without mental retardation from around the world, including Milwaukee athlete Kelby Hall and his peer Zer Her, worked in pairs to report on the World Games and discuss how to overcome the attitudes and stereotypes that kids with mental retardation face.

Summer 2001
Cindy Bentley and volunteer ALPs coordinator Tom Pezzi travel to New York City as the first time Wisconsin has been involved in the Special Olympics, Inc. worldwide ALPs Task Force.

June, 2001
Special Olympics Wisconsin holds the first ever Healthy Athletes Initiative, to provide basic health care screenings and testing to athletes at no cost. More than 350 athletes had screenings and education on proper dental hygiene and the importance of a healthy diet. Prescription glasses were prescribed and provided, in addition to custom-fit mouth guards for soccer athletes. More than 75 dentists, hygienists, optometrists, opticians and dieticians from all over the state gave of their time for a full day of screenings and education in victory village.

July 12-14, 2001
Special Olympics African Hope 2001 is held in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sun City, South Africa. Former President Nelson Mandela, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Special Olympics athletes light the "Flame of Hope" on Robben Island, followed by the world’s largest Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics through the streets of Cape Town. A soccer tournament, golf fundraiser and gala events in Johannesburg and Sun City generate awareness of the movement throughout the continent. African Hope 2001 launches a major growth campaign to reach 100,000 new Special Olympics athletes throughout Africa by 2005.

October 2001
Special Olympics Wisconsin conducts its first Athletes-As-Coaches workshop for seven athletes and their mentors.

December 5-6, 2001
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher holds a conference in Washington, D.C., to address the disparities in health care experienced by people with mental retardation. It is the first conference of its kind to address the medical discrimination and neglect of people with mental retardation, as well as their lack of access to affordable, quality health care. The conferees develop action steps to address these issues.

December 13, 2001
President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush host a Christmas dinner at the White House to celebrate the "Spirit of Special Olympics." Musician B.B. King performs for the more than 100 guests. Cindy Bentley, escorted by Karin Hawley, presents the President with one of her medals that she had blessed by the Church.

February 11, 2002
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher releases A National Blueprint to Improve the Health of People with Mental Retardation, the first government report to bring this issue to the forefront and promote actions to remedy it.

2002
A total of eight Polar Plunges were held across the state with nearly 3,700 plungers and 20,000 spectators, raising more than $609,000.

March 22, 2002
Under the theme "E.T. and Special Olympics Celebrate Differences", the Universal Studios-Special Olympics partnership communicated the messages of acceptance, tolerance, and diversity. E.T. carried the torch for Special Olympics and invite people around the world to log on to www.ET20.com and become an ET Torchbearer to help carry the message through a variety of ways - school activities, contribution possibilities and volunteer opportunities.

July 19-20, 2002
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund partnered with Special Olympics to host an annual birthday celebration for its Founder and Chairperson, former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. In alignment with the theme, "Unified Sports and Intellectual Disability," Special Olympics athletes participated in non-competitive, Unified Sports™ activities with children from the Children’s Fund at the Polokwane Stadium in South Africa. An estimated 30,000 spectators watched 240 children each from the Children’s Fund and Special Olympics participate in football (soccer), floor hockey, athletics, golf, bocce and mini-cricket. This was the first-ever publicly celebrated birthday event for Mandela.

November 2002
The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Wisconsin raises more than $1 million in one year for the athletes, with 933 registered law enforcement participating. Wisconsin receives award for the 7th largest program in the world.

2003
Eight Polar Plunges were held across the state with nearly 4,800 plungers, 20,000 spectators, and raised more than $804,000.

June 3-23, 2003
Deputy Ray Merlin, Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, represents Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games from Athens, Greece to Dublin, Ireland.

June 16-29, 2003
The eleventh Special Olympics World Summer Games are held in the Ireland. Over 7,000 athletes, 3000 coaches and 28,000 family members and friends representing 150 countries compete in 19 sports. This is the first time this major event will be held outside of the United States and it will be the largest sporting event in the world in that year.

November 2003
Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement Torch Run® raises nearly $1.2 million statewide, with registered law enforcement participants reaching 1,239. Wisconsin receives awards for the largest increase in gross revenue, 5th highest funds per capita and 3rd largest program in the world.

2004
Eight Polar Plunges were held across the state with more than 5,400 plungers, 20,000 spectators and raised more than $930,000.

March 27, 2004
Special Olympics Wisconsin takes part in the first ever (possibly in the world) Athlete Leadership Program (ALPs) Global Messenger training through video conferencing in four different locations of the state.

August 2004
Special Olympics Wisconsin collaborates with the Dept. of Public Instruction to enlist AmeriCorps members to further SOWI’s mission in the schools statewide. SOWI hires eleven AmeriCorps members, including two Special Olympics athletes. It is the first and only known collaboration of its kind in the United States and represents the first time SOWI has employed athletes in a formal role.

November 2004
Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement Torch Run® raises nearly $1.3 million statewide, with 1,322 registered law enforcement participating. Wisconsin receives awards for the 4th highest funds per capita and 3rd largest program in the world.

2005
Stevens Point was added as an additional site for a total of nine Polar Plunges across the state with more than 5,600 plungers, 20,000 spectators, raising $937,000.

February 17-27, 2005
Inspector Lorie Floyd, Wisconsin State Patrol, represents Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Japan.

February 22- March 5, 2005
The 8th Special Olympics World Winter Games is held in Nagano, Japan. Over 80 countries will unite for competition. Worldwide, approximately 2,500 athletes, 650 coaches and official delegates, 10,000 volunteers, 28,000 family members and friends, and 150,000 spectators are expected to be in Japan to celebrate and be a part of the Games. Wisconsin sent three athletes.

June 2005
The Second Global Athlete Congress was held in Panama City, Panama. Wisconsin athlete Travis Stuckart joined more than 70 Special Olympics athletes from more than 35 countries to discuss issues from competition management to athletes serving a more prominent leadership role in government relations and fundraising.

June 11, 2005
Special Olympics Wisconsin holds its first ever State Athlete Youth Summit with nearly 20 participants, held in conjunction with the 2005 State Summer Games in Stevens Point. Students, age eight to 17 with and without disabilities, were paired together from around Wisconsin to share their experiences with Special Olympics, including what it was like having a friend with a disability and discussing ways of reversing stereotypes about people with disabilities.

September 2005
Special Olympics Wisconsin state leadership conference entitled “Changing Lives” involves more than 80 athletes. This is the largest demonstration of athlete leadership to date.

September 24, 2005
The first World’s Largest Truck Convoy® for Special Olympics Wisconsin is held, presented by Quad/Graphics with 104 trucks participating, raising $38,919.76 for the athletes.

October 2005
Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement Torch Run® raises over $1.3 million statewide, with 1,254 registered law enforcement participating. Wisconsin receives awards for 3rd highest funds per capita, 4th largest program in the world and is one of seven states to receive the new Diamond Level of Excellence for $1,000,000 LETR Program.

2006
Nine Polar Plunges were held (two had to be cancelled due to extreme cold weather) across the state with more than 6,300 plungers raising $985,000.

April 2006
Special Olympics Wisconsin forms its first ever Athlete Input Council with representation from all seven areas. The Council discusses issues facing SOWI on a statewide level and meets five times per year at state competitions.

June 24 – July 2, 2006
Corrections Officer Daryl Pries, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, represents Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the first ever, 2006 USA National Games in Iowa.

July 2-7, 2006
The first ever Special Olympics National Games is held in Ames, Iowa hosting more than 3,500 athletes from all 50 states, 2,000 coaches and official delegates and 8,000 volunteers participating in seven days of competition in 12 different summer sports.

September 16, 2006
The 2nd Annual World’s Largest Truck Convoy® for Special Olympics Wisconsin is held, presented by Quad/Graphics with 93 trucks participating, raising $40,503.00 for the athletes.

November 2006
The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Wisconsin celebrate its 20th Anniversary, raising nearly $1.4 million statewide, with 1,253 registered law enforcement participating. Wisconsin receives the Diamond Level of Excellence, along with awards for 3rd highest funds per capita and 5th largest program in the world.

February 2007
Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete Martha Hill was selected for the 2007-2009 International Global Messenger. She is one of three from the United States and 12 worldwide who will help spread the message of Special Olympics throughout the world.

2007
Nine Polar Plunges were held (one having to be rescheduled for a week later and one modifying their event into a Pinky Plunge) across the state with 5,465 plungers and finally exceed raising more than $1 million ($269,714.80 raised online alone!)

April 2007
Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete Mila Holcombe was selected to serve on the first ever R.I.S.E. Up Wisconsin!, the Ride to Inspire Student Engagement. AmeriCorps volunteers circled the state in a big yellow school bus to highlight the inspiring work of active youth and empower young people to work for change, become involved in their communities, and make their voices heard.

Summer 2007
Martha Hill attends World Summer Games as an International Global Messenger.

June 2007
Special Olympics Wisconsin creates the first Mike Schulte ALPs Athlete of the Year Award was presented to Nate Gerharz in honor of Mike Schulte’s ground breaking work in ALPs in Wisconsin after his passing.

September 15, 2007
The 3rd Annual World’s Largest Truck Convoy® for Special Olympics Wisconsin is held, presented by Quad/Graphics and WEL Companies/Wally Tielens Memorial Fund with 121 trucks participating, raising $87,796.13 for the athletes.

September 22 – October 4, 2007
Chief Lisa Walter, UW-Stout Police Department, represents Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in China.

October 2-11, 2007
The twelfth Special Olympics World Summer Games are held in the China. Over 7,000 athletes and 3000 coaches will represent 169 countries, competing in 24 sports. Wisconsin sent three athletes.

November 2007
Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement Torch Run® raises over $1.3 million statewide, with 986 registered law enforcement participating. Wisconsin receives the Diamond Level of Excellence and an award for the 5th highest funds per capita and is the 6th largest program in the world.

2008
Whitewater joined in for a total of ten Polar Plunges with more than 6,200 plungers raising nearly $1.2 million. Since the Polar Plunge® Fundraiser began in Wisconsin a total of 42,405 plungers have raised more than $7 million.

August 2008
Special Olympics Inc.’s Project UNIFY was made possible by $4.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education pursuant to fiscal 2008 appropriations under the authority of HR5131, "The Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act," and the "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act" which Special Olympics International received in June 2008. SOWI received $75,000 to support the establishment of the Young Athletes Program (YAP), Camp Shriver and a revived Unified Sports League.

September 20, 2008
The 4th Annual World’s Largest Truck Convoy® for Special Olympics Wisconsin is held, presented by Quad/Graphics and WEL Companies/Wally Tielens Memorial Fund with 122 trucks participating, raising $100,930.00 for the athletes.

October 2008
Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement Torch Run® earns the Diamond Level of Excellence for raising over $1.5 million statewide, with 959 registered law enforcement participating and is the 6th largest program in the world.

December 2008
SOWI holds its first Winter Camp Shriver held in conjunction with LaCrosse Parks and Recreation and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

January 28 – February 8, 2009
Sgt. Steve Janus, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, represents Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho. February 6-13, 2009
The 9th Special Olympics World Winter Games is held in Boise, Idaho. Over 85 countries united for competition. Worldwide, approximately 3,000 athletes, 650 coaches and official delegates, 10,000 volunteers, 28,000 family members and friends, and 150,000 spectators were in Idaho to celebrate and be a part of the Games. Wisconsin sent six athletes. Martha Hill serves as International Global Messenger and announces delegations as they entered the arena.

2009
A total of 11 Polar Plunges were held, with the newest addition at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee. A total of 7,764 plungers raised more than $1.5 million for the 10,000 athletes who participate in Special Olympics Wisconsin!

March 31, 2009
Spread the Word to End the Word™, which is an effort to raise the consciousness of society about the negative effects of the word "retard(ed)", had participation from Madison West High School, Bowler Elementary School, and Sheboygan school district.

May 2009
More than 200 children, ages three and four, participated in SOWI’s first Young Athletes Culminating Event at A.C. Kiefer Educational Center in Wausau.

June 2009
SOWI holds its first Summer Camp Shriver held in conjunction with La Crosse Parks and Recreation and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

July 2009
Milwaukee Public Schools Unified Basketball league, enhanced by monies from the Project UNIFY grant, hosts 80 students both with and without disabilities for enrichment classes and a basketball league.

September 26, 2009
The 5th Annual World’s Largest Truck Convoy® for Special Olympics Wisconsin is held, presented by Quad/Graphics with 137 trucks participating, raising $99,000.00 for the athletes.

November 2009
Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement Torch Run® ranks 5th highest in the world and earns the Diamond Level of Excellence for raising over $1.8 million statewide, with 1,055 registered law enforcement participating. Wisconsin has the largest increase in gross revenue in the world (nearly $300,000).

2010
Menomonie joined in for a total of 12 Polar Plunges with 9,582 plungers raising more than $1.8 million. Since the Polar Plunge® Fundraiser began in Wisconsin, a total of 59,751 plungers have raised more than $10 million!

March 3, 2010
Spread the Word to End the Word™ grew to have participation from 25 different Wisconsin school districts, seven colleges, and numerous communities to gather about 10,000 pledges against using the R-word (retard). June 2010
SOWI’s first Statewide Young Athletes Culminating Event was held in conjunction with State Summer Games with over 50 participants.

July 10-19, 2010
Investigator Mark Mauthe, City of Menasha Police Department, represents Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2010 USA National Games in Nebraska.

July 18-24, 2010
The second ever Special Olympics National Games is held in Lincoln, NE hosting more than 3,500 athletes from all 50 states, 1,000 coaches and official delegates and 8,000 volunteers participating in seven days of competition in 13 different summer sports. The National Games included the attendance of five youth to the National Youth Activation Summit. The first National Education Conference (NEC) was also held and two teachers from Blackhawk Middle School in Madison attended.

August 4, 2010
Special Olympics founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, passes away. She states, “Special Olympics is owned by the future, not by the past.”

September 2010
The first Over the Edge events are held for Special Olympics Wisconsin in Madison and Milwaukee, with 90 people repelling down Hilton Hotels to raise more than $80,000 for the athletes.

September 18, 2010
The 6th Annual World’s Largest Truck Convoy® for Special Olympics Wisconsin is held, presented by Quad/Graphics with 120 trucks participating, raising $82,888.00 for the athletes.

October 2010
The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Wisconsin is 1 of 12 programs to earn the Diamond Level of Excellence by raising $2.3 million in one year for the athletes, with 1,215 registered law enforcement participating. Wisconsin receives awards for the 4th largest increase in gross revenue, 5th highest funds per capita and 5th largest program in the world.

October 2010
Wisconsin athlete Martha Hill was selected to serve on the International Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Executive Council for a two year term (2011-2013). The Executive Council is an important body that provides guidance, resources and oversight to the overall Law Enforcement Torch Run movement worldwide.

2011
Twelve Polar Plunges took place February 5 – March 5, 2011. A total of 9,320 Plungers raised more than $1.9 million dollars for Special Olympics Wisconsin.

May 2011
Nichelle (Niki) Nelson, Waukesha Police Department, receives the Special Olympics Wisconsin Law Enforcement Torch Run® Volunteer of the Year Award presented at the annual Wisconsin Professional Police Association banquet.

June 2011
Kathy Schult, Milwaukee Police Department and Dave Gerber, Walworth County Sheriff’s Office, are inducted into the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Torch Run Dale Brunner Hall of Fame.

June 2011
The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Wisconsin celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Chief LaMunyon celebrates with officers at the State Summer Games in Stevens Point.

June 2011
Carolyn Voelker, Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete and Officer Kathy Schult, Milwaukee Police Department, represent Wisconsin in the LETR Final Leg at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.

August & October 2011
Over the Edge events are held for Special Olympics Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay and in Madison and Milwaukee, with 130 people repelling to raise $156,789 for the athletes.

September 2011
The 7th Annual World’s Largest Truck Convoy® for Special Olympics Wisconsin is held, presented by Quad/Graphics with 101 trucks participating, raising $72,494 for the athletes.

November 2011
The International LETR Conference is held outside of the United States for the first time in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Wisconsin is 1 of 13 programs to earn the Diamond Level of Excellence by raising $2,386,592 in one year for the athletes, with 1,142 registered law enforcement participating. Wisconsin is recognized as the 6th largest LETR program in the world.

November 2011
Martha Hill, Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete, is recognized at the International LETR Conference in Calgary, Canada as one of three inaugural recipients of the LETR International Executive Council Athlete Award.

2012
A total of 12 Polar Plunges are scheduled to take place February 4 – March 3, 2012. The R-word is removed from all state statutes and is replaced with the term “intellectual disability”.

2012
Special Olympics Wisconsin receives a Department of Defense grant for $43,000.

March 2012
Tyler Derringer begins term as the fifth Special Olympics athlete representative on the State LETR Committee through 2015.

May 2012
The Youth Activation Summit for Project Unify schools is held and SOWI gives High Achiever $250,000.

May 19 2012
Special Olympics Wisconsin holds its first-ever Family Health Forum in Oshkosh. Throughout the day, speakers discussed topics about transitioning health care, nutrition and healthy relationships with participants.

June 2012
The 26th Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Wisconsin takes place.

Frequently Asked Questions

Program Questions

What is the difference between Special Olympics and Paralympics?

Special Olympics and Paralympics are two separate organizations recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). They are similar in that they both focus on sports for athletes with a disability and are run by international non-profit organizations. But they are different in their participants, philosophies, and structure.

Participants: In Special Olympics, athletes must have an intellectual disability where the Paralympics welcomes athletes from six main disability categories: amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, visually impaired, spinal injuries and other conditions.

Philosophy: While Paralympics athletes endure a stringent qualification process so that the highest qualified based on performance can compete at the Games, Special Olympics does not exclude athletes based upon qualifying scores, but rather divisions athletes so they can compete against others at the same ability level.

Structure: Special Olympics headquarters is located in Washington DC, has area offices in 170 countries and has 30 sports while Paralympics is run by the International Paralympic Committee and is comprised of representatives from 165 member nations around the world.

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I would like to get more involved with Special Olympics, how can I do that?

Whether you are looking for a way to coach a sport or help raise funds, becoming a Special Olympics Wisconsin volunteer is a great way to have fun and give back to your community. For more information about signing up, contact your local Special Olympics Wisconsin office.

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Who is eligible to participate in Special Olympics?

Anyone who has been identified as having a intellectual disability by an agency or professional and is age eight or older is eligible to train and compete as a Special Olympics Athlete. Read more about athlete eligibility.

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What if my son or daughter is under eight years old?

If your son or daughter is under eight years old, introduce them to the world of sports during the Special Olympics Wisconsin Young Athletes Program, an innovative sports play program designed to meet the physical and developmental needs of children ages 2-7. Learn more about the Young Athlete Program.

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How do I find a Special Olympics team in my area?

Special Olympics serves athletes in more than 180 communities across the state! Contact one of our seven area offices and they can connect you with a representative from your area.

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How do I start a Special Olympics team or program in my community?

Special Olympics Wisconsin exists in nearly 200 communities across the state, but if you’re looking for more local coverage, why not start an agency? In just a few easy steps, we’ll have you on your way to empowering local athletes! Learn more about how to start a Special Olympics agency.

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What forms are necessary to participate in Special Olympics?

The Official Special Olympics Release Form and Application for Participation in Special Olympics form (also referred to as an athlete’s "medical") are needed to participate in Special Olympics. They provide for a photo release, necessary medical information, secondary insurance coverage by Special Olympics, Inc., and emergency medical treatment in the event a parent or guardian cannot be reached. Forms are located at the bottom of our "Become an Athlete" page. Other forms may be required for individual competitions. For more information, contact your area office.

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Donor Questions

Will you take my old / used trophies?

No. Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes receive new, specially designed medals or ribbons as competition awards. We do not accept donated trophies.

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Will I get a receipt for my donation?

Yes. When you make your donation online, you will see a confirmation page and receive an email confirmation, either one of which may be used as an official receipt (sometimes you may have to check your Junk folder to retrieve the receipt). If you mail in your contribution using the donation form, we will send you a gift acknowledgement which you can expect within 5-10 business days from the date the gift was received. If you have questions about your confirmation letter, please contact Faye Borchert at fborchert@specialolympicswisconsin.org.

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How can I be sure you are using my support wisely? How much of my donation goes to support program activities?

Special Olympics Wisconsin strives to operate as efficiently as possible. A significant portion of our revenue comes from a broad base of individual donors, $10 and $20 dollars at a time. Every contribution at any size makes an important difference. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, more people with intellectual disabilities have a chance to participate and experience the transformative powers of sports. Approximately 70 percent of our expenditures go to supporting program activities – including supporting local training and competition, developing education materials for our volunteer coaches, outreach to recruit more athletes, family support, and much more. Maintaining these high standards is a priority at Special Olympics Wisconsin. Check out our financial report for details.

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What credit cards does Special Olympics accept? How can I be sure my donation secure?

We accept Discover, American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. Special Olympics Wisconsin takes every precaution to protect our donors’ information, please refer to our privacy policy. Companies we work with to process credit card transactions are among the most reputable in the field, trusted by major charities. SSL encryption and certificate services are utilized for communicating potentially sensitive data over the Internet. This method is the industry standard security protocol, which makes it extremely difficult for anyone else to intercept the credit card information you send to us. In addition to maintaining privacy and security controls over information you share with us, Special Olympics Wisconsin works to accurately process your contribution information.

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Can I donate in honor or memory of someone? Will you send a tribute card to the recipient?

Yes, donating in someone’s name is a meaningful way to celebrate a friend or remember a loved one. Visit this site and check the "Tribute and Memorial Giving" checkbox at the bottom of the online form. Special Olympics will mail an embossed card to the honoree or their family letting them know that you made a donation to honor them. Cards are processed each business day but please allow 1-2 weeks for your honoree’s card to arrive in the mail. Donate in honor or memory of someone.

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Will Special Olympics accept a matching gift from my company?

You can double or triple your support of Special Olympics athletes through your company's matching gift program. Find out if your company will match your donation to Special Olympics Wisconsin, allowing your contribution to increase opportunity for exponentially more athletes with intellectual disabilities than you could imagine. You can also visit your personnel office to ask if they match charitable donations, obtain a matching gift form, fill it out completely and mail it to our office. Use our matching gift company search form.

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How can I update my information or preferences?

Please contact Faye Borchert, Database Manager at fborchert@specialolympicswisconsin.org and let us know about any changes to your information and preferences on how we communicate with you. In order for us to locate your record and expedite the changes you have requested, please be sure to provide complete information such as the name, address and phone number we would have on file. Though we process the changes you request right away, please note that due to our production schedule it may take up to 6-8 weeks for your request to take effect in the mail.

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I received a call about a magazine subscription from DialAmerica. Does this benefit Special Olympics Wisconsin?

You can help Special Olympics Wisconsin by ordering or renewing your favorite magazines through our partner, DialAmerica. You’ll get BIG discounts and DialAmerica will contribute 12.5% of your paid subscription to Special Olympics Wisconsin. It’s easy and costs you nothing. Learn more.

Any questions about your order should be directed Dial America at (800) 913-3331.

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Contact Us

Special Olympics Wisconsin
2310 Crossroads Drive, Suite 1000
Madison, WI 53718

Send Us a Message
Phone: (608) 222-1324
Toll Free: (800) 552-1324
www.SpecialOlympicsWisconsin.org

Created by the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation for the benefit of persons with intellectual disabilities

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