Champions Together

SO Indiana State Office Contact

Lee Lonzo
Director of Champions Together

Mark Booth
Director of Unified Champion Schools

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Champions Together is a collaborative partnership between the Indiana High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics Indiana that promotes servant leadership among student athletes while changing their lives as well as the lives of those with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics International is supporting Champions Together as a model program to activate schools through “Project Unify” which also has the endorsement of the National Federation of High Schools.

Questions? Want to get your school involved? Contact Lee Lonzo, Champions Together Director and IHSAA Educational Consultant.

The Beginning

The establishment of the “Champions Together” partnership between the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and SO Indiana was announced at the IHSAA headquarters on December 17, 2012. The partnership evolved from IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox charging the IHSAA Student Advisory Committee (SAC) to engage in “servant leadership” and discover ways to give back to their schools and communities.

The IHSAA SAC researched options and unanimously requested that an official partnership be formed with SO Indiana as the most appropriate fit for education-based athlete servant leadership. Special Olympics Inc. is supporting Champions Together as a model program to activate schools through “Project Unify” which also has the endorsement of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (IIAAA).

During the first full year of the program 26 schools were awarded the Champions Together awards banner for achieving all four (4) of Project Unify goals, 13 schools participated in the inaugural IHSAA Unified Track & Field state championship, participating schools raised in excess of $75,000 for the support of Champions Together activities and 197 high schools achieved at least one (1) of the Project Unify goals.

Unified Champion Schools

The Champions Together partnership will provide an award banner to all IHSAA member schools that meet the following Project Unify goals in the 2016-17 school year:

1 – All school sponsored activities must be planned, organized and administered by an Inclusive Student Leadership team that strives to do things WITH students with intellectual disabilities NOT FOR them.

2 – The school must participate in at least one activity designed around Whole School Engagement that promotes and encourages awareness, respect and inclusion of persons with intellectual disabilities.

3 – The school must organize and participate in at least one Unified Sports activity such as IHSAA Unified Track & Field, a Unified practice or clinic, or a Unified competition with students with intellectual disabilities OR local Special Olympics athletes.

4 – Fundraising—the school must raise a minimum of $1500 for the Champions Together project.

Financial Support of Champions Together

The primary purpose of IHSAA school fundraising for Special Olympics is to support the continued growth and operation of the Champions Together partnership. These funds help support schools by providing grants for Unified Sports, sponsorship of the IHSAA Unified Track & Field Championships, providing the Champions Together School Assembly, hosting school workshops and general support of schools establishing Champions Together Clubs.

Through fundraising, schools have the power to “pass it forward” by providing additional opportunities for more students to become involved in the #InclusionRevolution!

If schools wish to make a ceremonial check presentation SO Indiana will attempt to have a representative in attendance.