Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games: ‘A family affair’

Saturday, June 1, 2013 | 9:24 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — As thousands gathered for the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games this weekend in Columbia, one family was sure to attend.


Related Media

Related Articles

Gary Wilbers, 45, first volunteered at the annual event in 1994, and iquickly became a passion for him. He and his family members from Wardsville have returned each year since. Then in 2008, he joined the Special Olympics Missouri board of directors.

The Special Olympics became more of a "family affair” when his family became involved. His wife, Dana, 42, and children, Chris, 14, Adam, 12, and Elle, 11, also participate annually.

On Saturday, Dana Wilbers coordinated the long jump, while Gary Wilbers served as an event manager completing miscellaneous tasks, including directing the pentathlon competition.

The children assist in many ways, such as raking the dirt in the long jump pit when they were younger. Gary Wilbers is expecting a greater role for his children as they grow older.

“We just think it’s a great event and an environment for our kids to be able to help others and be able to give up their time,” he said.

Special Olympics is known to help athletes develop. In this case, the Wilbers children have grown, too.

“We’ve really seen that it makes a difference in (our children’s) lives, too, because how they can treat others knowing that we’re all people and when we find out that Special Olympics athletes are no different than you or I, and it just allows us then to translate that into the real world,” Gary Wilbers said.

After volunteering for more than five years, Chris Wilbers recognizes Special Olympics as the athletes’ “own event."

"It’s their own day to do whatever they want,” he said.

The family is “hooked,” according to Dana Wilbers, and next year, you can count on the family to be there, volunteering once again.


Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.