Wanted to share this email update we just received from our friends at Special Olympics Missouri.  Needless to say our thoughts and prayers are with them in this time of devastation and loss.  I hope everyone who reads this can share your message of support by commenting here, sending letters to the address included, posting on their Facebook wall, Tweeting them, or in your own unique creative way just offering any support you can to them in this difficult time.

June 1, 2011

Thank you to each of you who have reached out to us with words of comfort, encouragement and offers of support. This last week has been one of much grief as so much has been lost in the devastating tornado in Joplin. The outpouring of love we have felt from you is comforting and so appreciated.

Sadly, we lost three very special men. Tripp Miller, Rick Fox and Mark Farmer were lifelong friends and had been SOMO athletes for decades. The three men lived in their own home and took great joy in being Special Olympics Athletes. All three had bowled in our state tournament last November which was held in Joplin. At Tripp’s funeral they shared the story that upon being found in the rubble of what was left of his home, he greeted his first rescuer with a huge smile, and said, “thank you.” Those were his last words. Read more about Tripp.


Fortunately, no one was working on the evening of the tornado. This picture is what is left of our office. At this point we are not expecting to recover anything. Thanks to the kindness of a board member our office will find a temporary home. If you wish to send a note of encouragement to our area, you may mail to:

Special Olympics Missouri
Attn: Robin Anderson, SW Area
1001 Diamond Ridge, Suite 800
Jefferson City, MO 65109

Many of our athletes are displaced from their homes. At this time support in Joplin is overwhelming. Food and clothing are being provided to anyone who needs those items. What our athletes need most are gift cards which can be used to purchase the everyday things that are needed for a home. Those may be mailed to the address above.
Initial plans are being made for a memorial golf tournament and Pro-Am to be held in Joplin in the fall. Proceeds from this event will be split between our Joplin relief efforts and the Special Olympics Disaster Recovery Relief Fund. More information will be forthcoming.

Only three days after this tornado we hosted our State Summer Games less than 70 miles from Joplin. Volunteers were dropping out, teams were dropping and frankly, our hearts were almost too heavy to go forward. So many of you reached out in our time of need. Special thanks to Special Olympics programs in Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska who got in their cars and showed up to provide physical and emotional support. To each of you who have called, emailed and offered support, we are so thankful.

22 thoughts on “Joplin Tornado Devastates Local Special Olympics Program

  1. Joplin Special Olympics- you are in the thoughts and prayers of many people connected with Special Olympics Northern California! I was visiting family in Kansas City the week before the tornado hit Joplin. Stay strong!

    Janet Thiessen
    Tracy CA Police Department
    SONC Board Member

  2. I sponsored a bowling even for Special Olympics and I know I had more fun and my heart was filled with joy….that is why they are so Special….So Sorry for the Joplin Tragedy.

  3. One of the best things I have done in my life is volunteer for Special Olympics. Am sad to read this news. Prayers to the families/friends. Allentown, PA

  4. My prayers go out to the Joplin community and the Special Olympians in particular as you struggle with your loss. Please know our thought are with you.

  5. I’m am so sorry for the loss of these special athletes and the tragedy you have endured.
    May the Lord comfort all of you as you recover from this.
    My brother is also a Special Olympics athlete.

  6. My thoughts and prayers are with you all as you endure the pain of the devastation and the loss of your three comrades. Stay strong in your efforts to yet again overcome and as always show the rest of us how to live our lives.

  7. I am so sorry for the loss of your 3 athletes, their families, and for everyone in Joplin for their losses. May you find the comfort, and the monetary & physical help you so need. My thoughts & prayers are going out to everyone in Joplin & their families & friends.

    Bonnie-Topeka Kansas

  8. My hearts go out to these fine young men. And their friends and families. This is such a sad loss. And this is such a difficult time for all of our people in Joplin. May God watch over all of you and remain with you during this difficult time.

  9. Pingback: Joplin Tornado Devastates Local Special Olympics Program « Hootentown

  10. As an athletics and equestrian coach, I was just shuffling through photos of our State Summer Games in Bozeman, Mt. So many memories to hold dear. I am today lifting up your town, your team and your athletes/families in prayers as this devestation is more than some can bare. I am so sorry for the lose of your 3 precious athletes, I pray for strength in this time!! God Bless you all.

  11. As a Special Olympic Family with our athlete preparing for the KS Summer Games in Wichita this weekend, I was heartbroken to hear of your losses. But I was also inspired by your spirit in the face of this disaster and applaud you for going ahead with the Summer Games. While I didn’t know Tripp and Rick and Mark, specifically, As Special Olympians I know who they were. Today their healing is complete and they rest in the place that was prepared for and promised to them so long ago. God has a special place in his heart for ‘our athletes’. God Bless you in your Recovery
    The Bringles of Hutchinson KS

  12. I keep thinking of the Special Olympics athlete’s oath as my heart goes out to the three athletes that lost their lives and all those in Joplin suffering from the devastation of the tornado: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” May God bring comfort and peace to the families and friends of the athletes in this time of grief, and may He bless all the brave people helping others as they rebuild homes and lives!

  13. Best wishes to you all from Scotland, I have been following the news on the BBC, and it sounds very grim indeed. I sincerely hope that you can find the way to rebuild your homes and lives from this devastation.

  14. We are so sorry for all of the losses you have endured, due to this devastating tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of you, your families and especially to the families of these precious athletes.

    The Bednar Family
    A SOTX family

  15. I’m so sorry for your losses, both to your program and for the loss of 3 irreplaceable athletes. May they rest in peace. I know that being the strong and focused group you are, you’ll overcome this big setback and show the world what tough really is! Stay strong!

  16. No words can take away the pain of so much loss, but I hope you find a small comfort in knowing that so many other Special Olympics families are thinking of you right now.

  17. My heart breaks for the loss Joplin Special Olympics has suffered. Not only your 3 wonderful athletes and your building but the loss to your spirits, and energy. I hope donations will pour out to you. People all over are praying for you.

  18. I was trying to find ways that i could help out after finding out what the tornado did to your area. I want to find away to give back to those who really need it the most right now.

  19. Our prayers and thoughts go out to you at the devastation you have endured. Also our sympathies for the loss of 3 of your athletes.

    A fellow Special Olympics family from North Dakota.

    The Jans family

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