COLUMBIA — Since 1997, the Special Olympics Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, which honors the program's volunteers and athletes, has been housed in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
In January, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame will induct the entire organization.
Inductees for the 2013 ceremony Jan. 27 in Springfield include:
Special Olympics Missouri will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, along with 15 sports figures and the Jefferson City High School track and field program, Marty Willadsen of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame said.
Special Olympics Missouri, which dates to 1971, has its headquarters in Jefferson City and features 21 sports and more than 300 events year round and with 15,000 athletes and 31,000 volunteers.
"Over the years we have had a pretty big impact on more than 100,000 people with intellectual disabilities in the state of Missouri," Mandi Steward, marketing manager of Special Olympics Missouri, said.
Steward said recognition of the entire organization "gives us extra credibility. We are a real sports organization, and we can be a part of it with the rest of the sports."
Willadsen said the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame has a selection committee that sees 250 nominations per year of individuals and team sports programs across Missouri.
"This organization touches the lives of so many people from the state of Missouri," Willadsen said.
"It was a no-brainer," Willadsen said about inducting Special Olympics Missouri. "It was going to happen eventually."
A reception is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Hall of Fame Museum in Springfield followed by an evening reception, banquet and ceremony from 4 to 8 p.m. at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center.
Tickets are $150 each or $1,500 for a table of 10 and can be ordered by phone at 417-889-3100. Tickets are limited, and all proceeds will benefit the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
The Special Olympics Missouri's Sports Hall of Fame inductees will be a part of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame ceremony Jan. 27.
A total of 17 Special Olympics athletes and 11 Special Olympics volunteers are in the Special Olympics Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Up to four people can be inducted into the Special Olympics Sports Hall of Fame each year — two athletes and two volunteers. In order to be inducted, athletes and volunteers must have been nominated for another statewide award, and been involved in the program for 15 years, Steward said.
The 2013 Special Olympics Missouri winners will be announced Jan. 19.
Supervising editor is John Schneller.