JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tornado damage sidelines many Missouri Special Olympics athletes. The headquarters for Missouri’s Special Olympics in Jefferson City… took a direct hit. It was one of the hundreds of buildings and homes damaged in this week’s EF-3 tornado. As a result, a major event for the Special Olympics Missouri has now been canceled. The state summer games being called off.
There is disappointment from Special Olympics organizers to the athletes themselves. The athletes have been training hard for events like track and field. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.
Lindsey Hawkins, 30, from Fenton is one of around 1,000 Special Olympics athletes from Missouri who had been preparing for the games. Her mom Pat is her coach.
“I was just kind of oh, frustrated that we don`t get to actually go do this,” said Pat Hawkins. “My daughter’s been packed for two weeks to go to the state games.”
The cancelation was announced after the Special Olympics Missouri headquarters in Jefferson City sustained heavy damage from Wednesday night’s tornado. More than 100 volunteers turned out Friday to help clean up the damage.
The games were canceled for three main reasons. The number of resources needed to clean up the Jefferson City campus, flooding across Missouri making travel difficult, and more rain in the forecast that could have impacted the games.
St. Louis County Police are also disappointed. They do a lot to help fundraise for the Special Olympics.
Sergeant Mark Koeller has been involved for 19-years. He says, “Our athletes spend the entire year training and competing in their local and area events to reach this huge goal of theirs to get to the state games.”
Athletes compete in volleyball, track and field, swimming, and powerlifting. Lindsey is staying and getting ready for the next games this fall.
Despite the disappointment, everyone we spoke with is understanding of the situation. The annual law enforcement torch run that coincides with the summer games will still take place next week in the St. Louis area. There is no word on when the Jefferson City campus might reopen.