12 Days of SOWI

December 25, 2020 Blog, Featured

Join us as we celebrate “12 Days of SOWI” this holiday season!

In previous years we’ve highlighted athlete stories we’ve told throughout the year. However, this year we’ve expanded the campaign to highlight athletes as well as the many other wonderful people who help make up the incredible SOWI community. It’s a tight-knit community whose support has been more important than ever during this difficult year!



On the first Day of SOWI…

First up, we’re highlighting two best friends who were able to finally play golf together after many months apart when we hosted the Southern State Golf Tournament in September. Dave and Jake even helped us celebrate the fall sports season as co-emcees for our Fall Outdoor Sports Closing Ceremony.

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On the second Day of SOWI…

On the second Day of SOWI, we are revisiting when members of the Youth Activation Committee celebrated October’s National Bully Prevention Month by taking over our social media channels during the inaugural YAC social media takeover.

The Youth Activation Committee (YAC) is a select group of student-athletes and partners, from across the state that have demonstrated great leadership and compassion for Special Olympics athletes. Featured today are YAC member Ryan King and SOWI athlete Kira Janisch who spoke of the importance of an inclusive environment in schools.

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On the third Day of SOWI…

On the third day of SOWI, we are highlighting athlete Brittany Wilson of Team Milwaukee. For more than a decade now she has been writing poetry to express her feelings and creativity. While she flexes her muscles in Special Olympics sports like basketball, soccer, and volleyball, with more than three dozen poems written, poetry has helped her to flex her artistic muscles.

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On the fourth Day of SOWI…

On the fourth Day of SOWI, we’re highlighting Britta Hesselberg, a longtime champion for the Unified movement and current member of the Badgers for Special Olympics club at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to being a Unified Partner and fierce advocate for people with intellectual disabilities, Hesselberg has been a Polar Plunge superstar going back to her days at Columbus High School.

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On the fifth Day of SOWI…

On the fifth Day of SOWI, we’re looking back at how Young Athletes like Cody Zwicke navigated the pandemic and stayed active and engaged in part thanks to our virtual programming.

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On the sixth Day of SOWI…

On the sixth Day of SOWI, we’re reflecting on our incredible partners with the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. While they serve as some of our athletes’ top supporters every year, in 2020 they helped our athletes stay positive during the pandemic with heartfelt messages of support and encouragement throughout the year.

WATCH THE VIDEO…


On the seventh Day of SOWI…

On the seventh Day of SOWI, we’re taking a look back at Manitowoc County Miracles athlete Michael Pribek’s unique opportunity to compete in Special Olympics’ and Microsoft’s 2020 Xbox Virtual Gaming Event back in May. He was among 35 athletes representing 11 states who battled it out online in Forza Motorsport 7. Being a big gamer and NASCAR fan helped Pribek earn a silver medal in his first-ever gaming competition!

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On the eighth Day of SOWI…

On the eighth Day of SOWI, we’re highlighting our many wonderful medical volunteers who generously donate their time and expertise so that our athletes can lead healthier and happier lives. One example is the annual Free Physical Day at the Medical College of Wisconsin. For the last nine years, this special day has provided athletes an opportunity to get a standard sports physical, meaning they can use this exam to meet requirements to participate in upcoming Special Olympics Wisconsin competitions.

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On the ninth Day of SOWI…

On the ninth Day of SOWI, we’re revisiting our story on Dodge County Special Olympics athlete Jennifer Fuerstenau. Like many of us, Fuerstenau started off the pandemic in a funk. She was home from work and not doing much besides watching TV and playing on her phone. But in part thanks to SOWI virtual programming like Fit 5 workouts, interactive SOWI Live meetings on Zoom, School of Strength workouts, and Anytime Fitness workouts on Facebook, she would go on to thrive during this difficult year.

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On the tenth Day of SOWI…

On the tenth Day of SOWI, we’re highlighting the incredible agency managers who selflessly volunteer their time to run the 160+ agencies around the state. Without them, our athletes wouldn’t have agencies to call home or teammates to call their friends. Earlier this year, we did a story on agency managers Chad and Jenni Oeftger, whose acclaimed programs in Neenah were recognized as Special Olympics National Banner Unified Champion Schools. Neenah High School would even go on to be selected as one of just 36 schools in the country to make the ESPN Honor Roll!

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On the eleventh Day of SOWI…

On the eleventh Day of SOWI we’re putting the spotlight on our Unified Programs, where inclusion is always front and center. One great example of that is Unified Swim at Beloit High School. This innovative program enables the school’s lifeguard students to teach special education students to swim, changing the lives of all who participate along the way!

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On the twelfth Day of SOWI…

On the twelfth Day of SOWI, we’re reflecting on the inclusive spirit demonstrated by the students of Platteville High School when they selected Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete Bailey Durni as their Homecoming Queen this fall. The fact that she had been classmates with many of these students since 4K made her selection that much more meaningful and highlighted her peers’ deep commitment to inclusion.

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