Special Olympics Missouri is coming up on Feb.20

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Special Olympics Missouri is coming up on Feb.20

OHS cheerleaders welcome the SOMO students, during lst years SOMO.

OHS cheerleaders welcome the SOMO students, during lst years SOMO.

Tiger Paw Photo

OHS cheerleaders welcome the SOMO students, during lst years SOMO.

Tiger Paw Photo

Tiger Paw Photo

OHS cheerleaders welcome the SOMO students, during lst years SOMO.

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The annual Special Olympics of Missouri (SOMO) event will occur on Feb. 20 this year at OHS. Students at OHS can sign up for $12 to participate in the event. Due dates for signing up are on Feb. 1, and there are currently around 30 spots left.

SOMO hosts multiple activities for students with special needs throughout the year at different schools. Some of the sports that SOMO hosts include bowling, basketball, flag football, golf, etc. OHS hosts the basketball tournament in both Gym A and Gym B. Other schools in the area can sign-up to join and play with all special needs students. 

“This allows those students to feel like they are involved and that they can do the same types of activities as everyone else,” said Rebeca Dutcher, a science teacher at OHS. SOMO is ran with help from STUCO sponsors, Dutcher and Kelli Roberts, a math teacher at OHS.

Each student participating in the Olympics is partnered up with an OHS “buddy” who looks after them and assists them in the games. Buddy applications are currently still open for students to apply, a total of about 200 is needed for the event. 

There are 13 schools participating in SOMO this year. Elementary schools: Bierbaum and Forder. Middle schools: Bayless, Bernard, Buerkle, Oakville, Maplewood Richmond Heights, Southview, and Truman. Highschools: Hancock, Mehlville, Neuweohner, and Oakville.

To start the tournament there is an official opening ceremony. During the ceremony, one chosen athlete runs down the length of Gym A to “light” a cauldron with a torch. After this, all athletes begin to participate in the basketball games, eat their lunch, or visit Victory Village, which occurs in the commons. If students are too late to apply they cannot be a buddy but are offered the chance to have their own booth at Victory Village.

“Victory Village is kind of like a carnival, with booths set up for the athletes and their buddies to visit,” Dutcher said.

In Victory Village, athletes can win prizes by participating in games and other activities provided to them. All booths are organized by OHS clubs and organizations. So far, there is a total of five known booths with NHS, Sean Petric (11), and FCCLA. Cheer has also signed up but their booth is also unknown. “We usually will get more booths than that, those are just the early numbers,” Dutcher said.