COLUMBIA — For the past 42 years, the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games has hosted thousands of Special Olympics athletes who show off their talents.
A critical factor for the success of executing this event comes through the key partnerships the games have been able to initiate. The association has 139 partnerships statewide, but there is one association that crosses state lines to help support the event.
Southwest Dairy Farmers, based in Sulpher Springs, Texas, have been a part of games for the past five years.
“We were in Texas for 25 years, but this is our fifth year in Missouri,” said Carolyn McKinney, the company’s director of administration. “We sponsor six Special Olympics State Summer games across six states. This weekend we’re in New Mexico, Kansas and Missouri, and last weekend we were in Texas and Arkansas. In fact, with all that we do at the seven states we represent, Special Olympics is probably the greatest partnership we have.”
The company had a booth at the event to showcase its products and the industry to the athletes and their families.
“We are a promotion and education corporation. We promote dairy industry, dairy producers and also are into healthy lifestyles,” McKinney said. “We call it a partnership because they give us the opportunity to fund the dairy industry, and we give away free ice cream.”
Another feature the company boasts at the games was bringing a live cow to demonstrate the process of milk production and the importance of dairy in their daily diets.
“These kids just love you unconditionally, and we consider it an honor to be a part of them,” McKinney said. “To see them get their award, they’re just appreciative of what we do. Just an ice cream sandwich, they’re just so excited about a sandwich in a bag. If everybody was like them, the world would be better off.”