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Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO)

Written by  January 31, 2005

Most people don’t realize the amount of giving the biker community does via fund raising, poker runs, charity rides, raffles and just plain old donations. And I would almost bet that the biker community as a whole does more than any other for those who are disadvantaged, sick and in need than any other group in the world. What we can do for Special Olympics is no different. Most of the charities we are involved with usually just want money. And that’s OK. That’s all you can do for them in some cases. But Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) is an interactive group that, of course, wants your donations but just as important needs your time.

I first got involved with Special Olympics back in April of last year after reading an article that one of our writers submitted Special Olympics and Harley Riders – A Perfect Match. Please take the time to read Margaret’s article. It was something I always thought about doing, but never got around to it. After reading Margaret’s article, I e-mailed them and got involved. What a great feeling it is to see how much impact and how appreciative the athletes and parents are of your time. And since I have continued to volunteer, I have managed to form bonds with some of the athletes as you see some of them year round. Volunteering with SOMO reminds me of the Skid Row Toy Run sponsored by Glendale Harley-Davidson in California. Let me elaborate. Most toy runs just involve donating some gifts and doing a ride to a hospital or a location for drop off and you never see where the donation goes or get to see the faces of the children or people. The Skid Row run to the Fred Jordan Mission is much like working the SOMO as you can see the kids actually getting your gifts and you experience the satisfaction of seeing the smiles on there faces, which is priceless. And in SOMO’s case, working with the athletes directly or just coming down to an event and cheering them on is more gratifying than you can imagine.

I was honored to be invited to a Leadership Conference at Tan-Tar-A in Osage Beach, Missouri last month. This two-day event focused on “Pump up the Volume!” A theme designed for the all attendees to make the whole experience for the athletes as well as the volunteers, even bigger and better than before, via different events, fund-raising and community awareness. With breakout sessions all day and their yearly award banquet and dance, I was surrounded by people from all over the state who give their time money and most importantly their love to this organization. It was really something to be a part of. Make sure you watch our events calendar and Helping Hand section of the magazine for further coverage on SOMO events and others that you can get involved with statewide.

Below, I posted a few photos of the conference and awards dinner that took place Saturday night. I know you all give so much year round, but this organization has a lot of rewards and I know once you have donated your time and maybe even a few dollars, you’ll be hooked like I am.

Story and photos by Wayne Thompson