SHAWNEE, Kan. —Special Olympic athletes from Shawnee could soon be playing on a larger roster. Wednesday the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the transition of the Shawnee Storm Special Olympics team. 

Shawnee Storm, a local branch of Kansas Special Olympics, provides training and support for athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since 2008, the team has operated entirely on support from parents and volunteers.  

Now the team will merge with the Johnson County Park and Recreation District (JCPRD) Rangers.

“The parents for the group in Shawnee did an amazing job, but they were ready to let go of the reins. Because of the quality programming that our group does here at JCPRD, it was a natural fit,” Commissioner Leslee Rivarola said. 

As part of the transition, Shawnee Storm will donate its inventory of athletic equipment to JCPRD to use during practices and games. Throughout the team’s history parents have spearheaded fundraising efforts to support their athletes. 

Shawnee Storm will dissolve once the transfer is complete and the team will transfer the remaining $61,000 raised for the organization to JCPRD. 

Part of that money will be used to give each of Shawnee Storm’s current 48 athletes a $583 credit to register in JCPRD programs over the next five years. Approximately $33,700 will be allocated to the JCPRD General Fund to be held in a separate account to support JCPRD Special Olympics operations.