Nation's largest Special Olympics campus could open in Jefferson City by late next fall

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JEFFERSON CITY- A Special Olympics Missouri plan nearly a decade in the making could become a reality as soon as next fall.

Construction broke ground on the organization’s Training For Life Campus in May. The 34,000 square-foot campus will hold the nation’s largest Special Olympics venue in the United States.

“It’s an opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities to come to this campus and train in the sport they love, or find a new sport that they never heard of because maybe it’s not even offered in their area,” said Brandon Schatsiek, Special Olympics Missouri Athlete Leadership Manager.

Special Olympics Missouri athletes have the opportunity to participate in 21 sports, nearly half that will have a designated practice area in the new campus. 

“We’re the first in the nation to even have this opportunity to offer all these sports under one roof, said Special Olympics Missouri Competition Director Susan Shaffer. “Being able to bring kids and adults from the state of Missouri into one place to learn and teach them, that’s the unique part.”

In recent years, Special Olympics used space in various Mid-Missouri schools to host an annual Athlete Leadership Program and summer camps. The Training For Life campus will allow the organization to increase these opportunities.

“Instead of having that camp once a year, we can have that camp on a smaller scale maybe 20 to 30 times a year,” Schatsiek said.

More than 15,000 Special Olympics Missouri Athletes will have an opportunity to use the campus for practices and competitions. Some athletes are looking forward to easier commutes and larger social opportunities that come with the facility.

“It gives me an opportunity to be closer to my hometown,” Special Olympics Missouri athlete Becca Tincknell said. “You have new opportunities, you meet new mentors and help them out.”

As of early December, Special Olympics Missouri has already raised 96 percent of its fundraising goal for the Training For Life campus. Until December 15, the Centene Charitable Foundation will match donations toward the new facility dollar-for-dollar.