A Letter to SOOR from our CEO: October

In March, we were adapting to cope with Covid-19 by canceling events to ensure the safety of athletes, volunteers, and staff; hosting clunky Zoom calls and quickly apologizing when a dog would bark, a kid would meltdown, or a spouse would unknowingly enter the background in a bathrobe; and more than anything – worrying about the imapact that this unknown virus could have on the health and well-being of our athletes, so many of whom already deal with feelings of isolation. I can’t put my finger on when the shift happened from adapting to cope to adapting to win; but boy did it happen.

“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”
– Max McKeown

I don’t often shine the spotlight on our staff as they prefer to keep athletes and volunteers at the center of all we do. But as I was writing this opening to highlight the many things happening across our mission – it really hit me just how remarkable this small but mighty team of ten is. They deserve a tip-of-the-hat for how quickly they shifted their mindset from short-term discomfort to needing long-term solutions – and as a result, I get to share these updates with you:


Breakfast with Champions, presented by U.S. Bank: We are thrilled to launch this refreshed version of a beloved Special Olympics event next week on October 14th from 8:00 – 9:00 in the morning. Oregonians across the state are invited to join, at no charge, and start their day at home with a coffee and our ESPN Sports Center-themed program, hosted by Special Olympics Oregon athlete, Shawn Hinz. Take a break from the heavy news cycle and instead immerse yourself in their inspiring and joyful stories, listen as Shawn interviews PGA legend Peter Jacobsen, and hear from Special Olympics athlete correspondents around the state with a focus on our feature athlete’s story that will truly warm your heart. And – make sure you check out our online auction that could put you and 9 friends on a private Zoom call with Damian Lillard!


Fall Virtual Games presented by Providence Health & Services: Registration is open for athlete, Unified partner, and coach participation across four sport competition categories. Athletes will train and receive instruction in their chosen sports, connect and engage with their peers on Facebook, and submit their scores between November 2-9. There will be a traditional Opening Ceremonies November 2 and we’ll look forward to welcoming family, friends, and the community to cheer on the athletes as they push their own boundaries and experience the joy of sport.


Polar Plunge: Registration is open for all five locations (Portland, Corvallis, Medford, Bend, and Eugene) as well as the Super Plunge and 5K/10K race. The February Plunge season will feature safe in-person options and also brrr-tual options – something for everyone. Sign up now to get your super frigid…errr, cool… Plunge face mask and be sure to join the upcoming Virtual Halloween House Party featuring a costume contest for athletes, families, friends, Unified partners, Plungers and 4-legged friends on Oct. 29th on the SOOR Active platform.


SOOR Active: We are excited with the incredible response to our virtual programming and should exceed 1,000 members by the end of the month! Everyone is welcome to join this inclusive community to participate in health, fitness, and social activities.


Esports presented by Sony: The third season of Rocket League has kicked off and the excitement around this new platform for athletes to engage on is awesome. Special Olympics Oregon has been nationally recognized as a leader in the gaming space and we are thrilled to be working in collaboration with athlete leaders to develop this new way for athletes to stay connected and enjoy competition.


Unified Champion Schools: October is always a month to look forward to as we get to engage with athlete and student leaders during our Youth Summits. While they are virtual this year, the excitement amongst the school programs is palpable. The UCS programs are providing students with a familiar outlet where they work on their leadership skills, have a chance to promote respect and inclusion with their classmates, and they will creatively find ways to ensure this program continues to thrive when it’s needed most.