New Special Olympics training facility in Jefferson City damaged by tornado

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- "It's just pushing back everything, and it feels like we're back at square one," said Brandon Schatsiek, Multimedia Manager for Special Olympics Missouri.

The Special Olympics' "Training for Life" campus just opened in September 2018 after nearly 12 years of planning.

Now, Wednesday night's tornado in Jefferson City has forced it to close.

"We haven't even been open long enough for some our athletes across the state to come here and see this beautiful facility we built specifically for them," Schatsiek said. "That's what's so sad."

The EF-3 tornado carrying wind speeds reaching 150 miles an hour blew out almost every single window on the campus. It shattered glass on the front doors, and ripped a massive hole in the roof above the basketball courts.

The tornado also rolled up the field on the outside track like a carpet.

"Basically looks like a taco at this point. Everything in the back is pretty much going to have to be replaced as well."

But, after this tragedy in the Capital City, the neighborhood is coming together. Athletes from Jefferson City and Helias Catholic High Schools, left their rivalry on the field and court and worked together to clean up.

"It's a big rivalry, but it's just a game," said Brennan Jeffries, a soon-to-be senior at Jefferson City High School. "At the end of the day, we'll do anything to help Jeff City out and make it a better place."

There's a lot of work to be done, and the training facility might not be open for another six to nine months, but volunteers who are helping say the city is "stronger together."

"That's actually our school motto," said soon-to-be junior Hannah Nilges. "JC Schools Stronger Together. In this instance, it's more like Jefferson City as a whole and just being stronger together."

If you are looking for a way to donate to help the Special Olympics rebuild after the tornado, you can text SOMOREBUILD to 71777.

The Special Olympics also announced Friday the Summer Games scheduled to start on May 31 in Springfield have been canceled because of the damage in Jefferson City and across the state.