Special Olympics Arizona's Lisa Bell and participant Amber Nielsen share the breadth of opportunity available to special needs children and young adults who participate in the organization's competitions and community programs.

Marana Rotary Club

August 2, 2022 weekly meeting minutes

Laura called the meeting to order after about 10 minutes of fellowship. Don led us in the “Pledge of Allegiance”. We welcomed our guests, who were introduced. Dan introduced us to two Marana school district administrators Mark Golgoski and Denise Linsalata. Guest speakers Lisa Ball and Amber Nielsen from Special Olympics Arizona were acknowledged. Members Randy Brooks introduced his spouse Deb, while Don Jorgensen introduced his spouse, Cathy.
Laura thanked our guest for joining us. She mentioned the national and global presence of our members. For example, Bob splits time between Arizona and Virginia, and Andy and Peter, whose businesses take to them to places around the globe. Laura and Beckie asked that we keep Mary and Sulee, respectively, in our thoughts as each of them contend with some personal health challenges.
Laura noted that we will begin meetings with social time and thanked Denise for bringing pastries.
Don was recognized by the White House for his efforts on behalf of ShelterBox USA. Don was named a 2022 recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award for contributing at least 100 hours of service. Our club has a lot to be proud of because of Don’s involvement with ShelterBox. District 5500 responded to ShelterBox’s call for donations to assist with crisis in Ukraine by contributing $100,355 to the global relief organization. Our club members kicked in $4,000, which reflects our commitment to global peace and to helping our neighbors abroad displaced by conflict or natural disaster.
Randy reminded us that as home of the District Governor-elect, Don, we host the happy hour on the Saturday, September 24, of the District 5500 conference. About 250 people will attend the conference held at Casino del Sol, September 23-25.
Happy Bucks:
  • Denise is happy about our rain and today’s guests.
  • Harold sent the newsletter out to our 200 subscribers. He received an email from a speaker who expressed appreciation for receiving it.
  • Randy was happy for our guests in attendance.
  • Bob was happy to be safe and sound and back in Virginia. Along the from Oklahoma to Virginia, Bob and his spouse stopped at Dollywood and enjoyed the Tennessee attraction.
  • Cathy Jorgenson is happy Don has a healthy report and for travel
  • Don said he’s giving $20 because he’s been zooming and spending time with his grandson
  • Carol says life is good, low stress and happy for the weather. Laura added it’s low stress because Carol is retired! Ha
  • Dan liked the social start to the meeting and wants to see how we can increase our involvement with Marana school district.
  • Becky found a huge bark scorpion on her tomatoes, and is happy for bug spray.
  • Laura is happy for the guests, thankful for Randy and Deb for coming early to setup, and the rain. She also mentioned that John Dooling is fishing with his grandkids, and that she was thankful for Cindy Dooling, who was working a polling place for today’s primary. Laura was thankful for the poll workers and election officials who protect our right to vote by working the polls.
Guest Speakers: Lisa Ball and Amber Nielsen for Special Olympics of Arizona
Laura introduced our guest speakers, Lisa Ball, Regional Development Director for Special Olympics Arizona, and Special Olympics participant Amber Nielsen, has competed since she was in school.
Lisa noted that Special Olympics is year round, and there are opportunities to work with the participants in many sports through year-round training. Their motto is “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
More than 21,000 athletes compete, some starting at age 2. More than 1,000 coaches work with the participants. They offer 19 sports, plus drama clubs and other activities.
Of every dollar raised, 95 cents of it stays locally to support Tucson athletes and programs. The Tucson Conquistadors are a major sponsor.
Lisa suggested that we attend the October 28 “Breakfast of Champions” where community members can meet participants. Donations are accepted at the breakfast.
Special Olympics Arizona also offers adult day programs, community-based programs, and just created an athlete leadership program of which Amber is the vice president. Volunteer opportunities exist to help the Law Enforcement Torch Run at the end of April.
Amber then spoke about moving to Tucson from Montana with her husband five years ago. Special Olympics has helped her with “breakdowns’ and have supported her with doctors, counselors for mental health support, and that CEO Jamie also answers requests for support. Fundraisers for Special Olympics includes:
  • Polar Plunge
  • Over the Edge
  • Torch Run
  • Breakfast with Champions (BWC)
Amber advocates for all people with intellectual disabilities and is working with doctors to share how to talk not just to the parents but also to the person being examined. 
Laura asked Amber what softball position she plays, and Amber said, “Shortstop”
Denise said she appreciates Amber's passion and inclusion. Randy mentioned the Special Olympics made a big difference in his sister’s life.
Amber expressed her appreciation to Lisa for her help during some recent health concerns.
Laura presented them with the highly coveted Marana Rotary cowbells.
For more information about Special Olympics Arizona, contact Lisa Ball at Lisa@SpecialOlympicsArizona.org.
We closed with the Four-Way Test, and ended the meeting at 7:58 because as Laura noted, we went “overtime” last meeting.