State Conference

SO Indiana State Office Contact

Tracy Mortensen
Director of Support Services


Please visit our Resource Library to find all forms and event information.

2017 SO Indiana State Conference


Horizon Convention Center
401 S High Street
Muncie, IN 47305


Saturday, October 28, 2017


The annual Special Olympics Indiana State Conference targets program leaders, volunteers, coaches and families. The State Conference exists to provide valuable training in Special Olympics sports and program management. The State Conference also features the annual Spirit of Special Olympics Luncheon, held on Saturday evening. At the luncheon, the Spirit of Special Olympics state award winners will be recognized.  The annual Spirit of Special Olympics Awards Program honors the most outstanding Athlete, Family, Volunteer, Coach, and Law Enforcement Torch Run (L.E.T.R.) Officer in Indiana.

State Conference Session Descriptions


Friday, October 27

1:00 pm

Conference Attendee Check-in Opens

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Opening Doors Through Opportunity
Special Olympics Indiana and the Erskine Green Training Institute (EGTI) are teaming up to open doors to opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.  Staff from the EGTI will explain the institute’s purpose and mission and provide an overview of the various vocational training programs it offers, while SOIN staff will discuss the ways in which Special Olympics is tackling similar issues and working to improve the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities, both on and off the playing field. This special opening session includes a guided tour of the EGTI, housed within the Courtyard Marriott Hotel.

7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Welcome Night
Join your hosts for an evening of socializing and networking with leaders and coaches from across the state in advance of the 2017 Indiana State Conference. Appetizers and beverages will be provided.

Saturday, October 28

8:00 am

Conference Attendee Check-in Opens

9:00 am – 10:30 am

Leveraging Leadership
Presenter: Amy Barg (On Stage 7)
Grasping the powerful implications of “the easiest, hardest part of leadership” is simple, but tough.  It requires being and doing what you want your people to be and do. Discover how intentionally working first, hardest and longest on changing yourself…AND accepting responsibility for creating momentum will pave the way for you to empower others to expand and explore their own leadership potential.  This session will shine a light on the importance of leveraging your own leadership growth to grow and develop others for the long-term sustainability of your organization.

10:40 am – 11:25 am

50th Anniversary
Presenters:  Kelly Ries and Nathan Barnes
Founded in July, 1968, the Special Olympics movement will celebrate 50 years of breaking down barriers and transforming lives through the power of sport beginning next year. In Indiana, the celebration will continue through 2019 as we mark the anniversary of the first Indiana Special Olympics at Indiana State University. This session will provide an overview of planned 50th Anniversary activities in Indiana and around the world.

How to Start a Learn-to-Swim Program
Presenter: Patrick Kozlowski, Beth Schweigel,
Panel: Barb Cox (Delaware Co.), Lorrie Woycik (Porter Co.), David Baugh (ROD Co.), Cindy Britten (Howard Co.) Brooke Garcia (WRCC Special Needs Director), Rachel Deaton (Autism Society of Indiana), Amanda Moore (YMCA)
According to CDC statistics, 10 people in the United States die from accidental drowning each day.  And according to the National Autism Association, drowning accounts for 91% of all accidental deaths by individuals with autism. Please join us for this informational session on the importance of learning to swim and offering a safe swim program for your athletes.

Collaborative Fundraising
Presenter: Scott Furnish
Panel: Michelle DeWitt (Washington Co.), Mary McCormack (Huntington Co.), TBD (Johnson Co.), Kanita Sirback (Franklin Co.)
Raising money to support your County Program is an essential part of leading a successful program, and Special Olympics Indiana offers revenue sharing opportunities throughout the year to help you reach your goals. Learn about how your program can get involved in statewide fundraisers including the Run Unified Relay, the Polar Plunge, and the Plane Pull Challenge, and get access to online fundraising tools and other resources to make your job easier. This session will include a review of the organization’s most recent Revenue Sharing Policy, approved in the Fall of 2016, and will feature a panel of leaders from our most successful county fundraising programs.

Unified Fitness Clubs
Presenter:  Shadreck Kamwendo
Panel:  Michelle Goodin (Montgomery-Parke Co.), Kevin Aders (Johnson Co.)
Unified Fitness Clubs are bringing together people with and without intellectual disabilities throughout Indiana, emphasizing the importance of health and fitness even outside of Special Olympics competitions and providing opportunities for regular group exercise. Join us to learn how you can join or start a Unified Fitness Club in your area.

Area & County Leadership Meeting 
(Area Directors & County Coordinators only)
Presenters: Michael Furnish, Jeff Mohler, Beth Schweigel, Buzz Lail, Francie Smith, Julie Burkholder
Business, business, business.  We’re talking big-picture items with our Area & County leadership at this meeting.  What’s coming next for Special Olympics?  Area Directors & County Coordinators are invited to join Special Olympics Indiana’s CEO & COO to discuss strategic planning, new initiatives, and upcoming changes to the Special Olympics program.  Join the conversation.

Unified Golf Tour, Part I
Presenter:  Patrick Kozlowski
Get golf ready!  Discover everything you need to know about participating in the Unified Golf Tour and take advantage of this great new opportunity for Unified Golf pairs to tour the state and play at  courses they never knew existed! This session will focus on getting started, earning points, and advancing to state-level competitions. Join us for Part II to learn about running a tour stop.

Be All You Can Be: Take Your Teaching and Your ALPs Course to the Next Level! (ALPs University Instructors only)
Presenters:  Erin Garriott and Elesia Yoon (Butler University)
Instructors in Special Olympics Indiana’s Athlete Leadership Program are invited to bring their ALPs University course materials and join this interactive discussion exploring techniques to improve the classroom experience for attendees.

11:30 am – 1:30 pm

Spirit of Special Olympics Luncheon
Speakers:  Michael Furnish and Carl Erksine
Take a break from the classroom and help us celebrate the winners of the 2017 Spirit of Special Olympics Indiana Awards and the Dennis Schmidt Impact Award! Following lunch and the presentation of awards, SOIN President & CEO Michael Furnish will discuss the state of Special Olympics in Indiana, and former MLB great Carl Erskine will share from his experiences as a Special Olympics parent and even provide some entertainment as he plays his harmonica.

1:35 pm – 2:15 pm

YMCA, Bridging the Gap of Service
Presenter: Amanda Moore (YMCA of Greater Indianapolis)
The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis is committed to partnering with Special Olympics Indiana by providing services that help support our athletes in the communities where they live.  Join us to learn about how the YMCA is working to fill the gaps of service for people with intellectual disabilities and to discuss opportunities for your County Program to develop a partnership with your local YMCA.

Transitioning School-Aged Youth to County Programs
Presenter: Lee Lonzo and Jeff Mohler
Special Olympics Indiana’s Champions Together partnership with the IHSAA has grown exponentially over the past four years, and more and more high school students are looking for ways to get involved in their local Special Olympics program outside of school. Young athletes are knocking. . . will you open the door?

Going for the Grant
Presenter:  Julie Burkholder
Panel:  Becky Walls (Kosciusko Co.) and Vicky Lutgring (Perry Co.)
Learn from your peers in this interactive panel discussion on securing grant funding for your local Special Olympics program. This session will include a look at identifying organizations in your area that may be issuing grants, navigating the grant application process, and lessons learned in successfully securing funds.

Benefits of Health and Wellness for Our Athletes and You
Presenter:  Megan Schmidt (Butler University )
As Special Olympics Indiana continues its efforts to reduce health disparities and improve outcomes among the people it serves, it has become increasingly important that everyone in the organization understands the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Using tools like the Fit 5 Guidebook and drawing from course content covered in ALPs University’s Introduction to Health and Fitness, this session will feature a wide-ranging discussion on nutrition and hydration, the benefits of exercise, identifying new ways to get physically active in every day life, and setting personal goals.

Your Dependent with Special Needs . . . Making their Future More Secure
Presenter:  Gordon Homes (Mass Mutual)
With changes to Home and Community-Based Medicaid Waivers and the direction of government benefits unclear, it has become critically important for families to plan for the future of their dependent with special needs. This workshop covers: wills; special needs trusts and guardianship; and financial Issues, such as special needs trust funding, ABLE accounts, Medicaid, SSI/SSDI, and letters of intent.

Unified Golf Tour, Part II
Presenters:  Patrick Kozlowski and Donna Hazelett (Allen Co.)
Picking up where Part I left off, the second session on the Unified Golf Tour will focus on learning to run a tour stop at a golf course in your area. Join us to learn about how you can take the next step in your Unified Golf experience.

Planned Giving: The Carl & Betty Erskine Society 
Presenters:  Michael Furnish and Carl Erskine
A select group of County Coordinators will be invited to participate in a discussion of revenue sharing in relation to planned gifts.  We will discuss the potential for inviting key volunteers and family members to make a legacy gift to Special Olympics that could fund your County Program far into the future.  Please check with Mike Furnish if you’re interested.

2:25 pm – 3:10 pm

Making a Commitment to Health: Next Steps to be Healthier
Presenter:  Mary Ciccarelli, MD (Indiana University School of Medicine)
What are the next steps Special Olympics athletes, coaches, and families can take to be healthier? Participants will define a healthy athlete as someone who takes good care of his or her body, along with developing skills as activated patients who get the right services at the right time from their healthcare providers.

3:20 pm – 4:25 pm

Regional Round Tables
Presenters:  Buzz Lail (Northwest), Julie Burkholder (Northeast), Beth Schweigel (Central), Francie Smith (South)
Don’t miss this opportunity to sit down with leaders from your part of the state to exchange ideas and discuss practical ways to improve the athlete experience for the people you serve.

4:30 pm – 5:15 pm

Mike’s Farewell Q & A
Presenter: Michael Furnish
Outgoing President & CEO Mike Furnish will deliver his final address, touching on the history of Special Olympics in Indiana, highlighting successes from 2017, and sharing how Indiana will build a better future for our athletes, families, and volunteers. Questions will be invited and encouraged. The session and conference will conclude with a special recognition of Mike for his many years of dedicated service.