Recent Tornado Devastates Special Olympics Training Center

Photo of the training for life campus for the Special Olympics.

Reposted from ESPN online.
Written by Brandon Schatsiek, Special to ESPN

A little after midnight on Thursday, May 23, my wife, our dogs, our hedgehog (yes, a hedgehog) and I were all hunkered down in our basement in Jefferson City, Missouri, watching the news as a storm moved across the state. Local meteorologist, and avid Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) supporter, Zach Paul mentioned on-air that there was a confirmed tornado in the area and the path was headed toward our Training for Life Campus.

The recent outbreak of tornadoes in Missouri left the SOMO Training for Life Campus in shambles. The Training for Life Campus is the first facility of its size and scope for people with intellectual disabilities. Through a capital campaign, we raised $14.5 million and opened the campus in September 2018.

The 44,000-square-foot anchor of the campus serves as our headquarters office and houses more than 20 staff members. It also has an arena, multimedia rooms and health exam rooms. The rest of the 16.5-acre campus has a four-lane track and multipurpose turf, and there are plans to add a softball field, bocce courts, tennis courts and more. To the athletes who trained there, this wasn't just a facility—it was their home.

Portraits that once proudly hung on the walls at the Training for Life Campus are now part of the destruction. After the storm passed, we drove to the campus and, in the dark of night, saw our worst fears in front of us. Every south-facing window was blown out, the glass entryway crashed into our lobby and there was a sizable hole in the arena roof where rain was pouring in. It wasn't until morning that we were able to see that the multipurpose field and track were also severely damaged.