Missouri’s Special Olympics Games canceled after new facility damaged in tornado

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Jefferson City tornado damage has also claimed another casualty: the Missouri Special Olympics Summer Games set for next weekend in Springfield.

You might be wondering what does damage in Jefferson City have to do with a competition in Springfield?

But the decision-makers said they had to look for the well-being of the organization and the staff, and not just the thousands of disappointed athletes.

Last year, Lynna Hodgson crossed the finish line in the 100-meter run at the Special Olympics USA Games and brought home the gold medal.

Sadly, there will be no such moment for Missouri's representative from Oak Grove this year -- or any of the 3,000 other athletes who compete in the Special Olympic's Missouri Games.

A week before they were set to begin, they found out they'd been canceled.

"I was pretty disappointed because we train for 2-3 months for this," Hodgson said.

"The toughest part was knowing that this was going to really upset a lot of our athletes and our coaches," said Brandon Schatsiek with the Special Olympics of Missouri.

The organization showed FOX4 tornado damage to their brand new $19 million facility in Jefferson City on Friday where 100 volunteers were busy cleaning up.

Hodgson is heartbroken, too. She raised $5,000 for the Training for Life campus. She has no idea if her picture on the wall survived the storm.

"That was our home, and we love it so much," Hodgson said.

The Special Olympics Games are more than a competition. There are important health clinics and social events. Hodgson was even set to attend a graduation for a degree.

"This is a major event for them. This is devastating for the athletes," said Rand Hodgson, Lynna's father.

The Games were already planned for Springfield, but the organization said right now, the staff's priority has to be on the damage in Jefferson City.

"Just being able to take the time to fix up what we have here, pick up the broken pieces and start to rebuild," Schatsiek said.

For the Lynna, it's disappointing news, but they understand.

"I think this was gut wrenching, I'm sure. It's the last thing they want to do," Rand Hodgson said.

"I kind of was hoping they wouldn't cancel it, but I totally understand why they did," Lynna said.

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