What is GMSO?
GMSO stands for Gwinnett Masters Special Olympics. GMSO is a new organization that has recently spun off from Gwinnett Special Olympics
. Gwinnett Special Olympics now supports the school-age athletes and GMSO supports the adult athletes.
What does Masters mean?
In Special Olympics, Masters refers to athletes that are 22 and older.
Don’t you also support younger athletes?
Yes. Athletes in the age range 16 to 21 are termed Seniors. They are usually still in school and supported by the school program. However, any Senior athlete can play up a level and participate with the Masters. This is typically done because the school-age program does not support the sport they are interested in. Also in a few sports, for this same reason, even younger athletes may practice with the Masters athletes for the purpose of training. For competition, however, only seniors and masters may participate together at the state or higher levels.
What is SOGA and how are you related?
SOGA is Special Olympics Georgia
. GMSO is an accredited agency of SOGA. GMSO is not a stand-alone organization. We obtain our non-profit organization 501(c)(3) status through SOGA.
Are only athletes who live in Gwinnett County eligible?
No, athletes in other counties may participate with us.
What is required for an athlete to participate?
The first step is for the athlete to fill out the required medical form
. Medical forms must be renewed every 3 years. An athlete with a valid medical form (or their parent/guardian/caregiver) should contact either the head coach
of the sport of interest or the coordinator
What is required from a parent/guardian/caregiver?
Commitment to your athlete to guarantee he or she has a great experience. This primarily involves transportation. We encourage all people involved including siblings, friends, and grandparents, to participate as fans, and as volunteers for fundraising events. This program can be as great as you are willing to help make it be.
What advantage(s) does GMSO offer its athletes?
After leaving school, most athletes have no activities to participate in. GMSO provides the opportunity for not only sports, but for athletes and families to socialize through banquets, road trips, etc. In fact the social aspect is often just as important for the parents and caregivers as for the athletes. Parents need to be thinking about and planning what happens to their son or daughter when they are gone. Talking this through with other parents in similar situations can be invaluable.
What is a Global Messenger?
Athletes that are trained representatives of GMSO. They make speeches and appearances around the county sharing their personal involvement. They are crucial in recruiting athletes & volunteers and enhancing public awareness. Audiences are moved by the athletes’ stories because they are truly speaking from their hearts.
What is our “area”?
We are in Area 18 of Georgia. Area 18 consists of Gwinnett, DeKalb, Rockdale, & Newton counties.
What sports are supported by Special Olympics and do you support them all?
represents the latest support for sports by SOGA & GMSO. Please contact the coordinator if you would like to see support for another sport.
I would like to attend some events. When are they?
Special Olympics is a year-round program. There’s always something going on. Please check out our calendar
If your team wins at the state games, do they get to go to regional or national games?
No, that’s not the way it works. The state organizations are asked to fill certain slots for national and international competitions. So an invitation from SOGA is required. We have had several of our athletes participate in national and international competitions.
How do I get trained as a coach?
You can request training through our board training chairperson, the head coach, or the coordinator. SOGA provides occasional training classes and there is a form to request a training session. GMSO is working on addition training materials and coursework.
Why do we need a board?
An advisory board (also called “management team”) is a requirement of SOGA. The advisory board is accredited by and accountable to SOGA.
What does the board do?
Among other things, the board is responsible for:
- Supporting the coordinator
- Managing revenues and expenses and reporting monthly to SOGA
- Meeting at least 4 times a year
- Recruiting volunteers, athletes, and donors
- Raising community awareness
- Training of coaches
- Organization of competitions
- Distributing information
Is the coordinator part of the board?
No. The advisory board supports the coordinator.
Who is on the board and how do I contact them?
When does the board meet?
Board meetings are usually the 3rd Monday in each month. All meetings are open. Anyone can attend. However since some meetings are dinner meetings, it’s best to let a board member know a couple of days in advance if you would like to attend, especially if you wish to dine. The meeting schedule can be found on the GMSO calendar
I want to donate to a worthy charity but why should I pick GMSO?
GMSO is an all-volunteer organization. 100% of your donation will go to help special needs athletes to achieve their dreams. GMSO is local. You can see the fruits of your donation happening right in your backyard. I could go on, but you get the idea.
I thought Special Olympics was free. Why does it cost money to participate?
Few things in life that are worthwhile are free. This is true for Special Olympics too. Here is a partial list of items that must be paid for:
- League Fees
- Tournament Fees
- Field Rental Fees
To help finance these expenses, the board asks for donations from the athletes. This money pays for a portion of the expenses. Donations and fundraising pay for the remainder.
Don’t you get money from the state to cover these?
No. We can and do apply for a transportation grant from the state which, if granted, will cover a small portion of the transportation costs. In fact the board must pay the state $15 for each athlete, coach, and chaperone attending a summer, fall, or winter games event. But we see this fee as a bargain, since it includes housing for a weekend and some meals and of course the competition.
But why is it so expensive?
Simply put, it’s not expensive. Not including the bowling league, the average athlete will play 2 or 3 sports and will be asked to contribute about $225 per year. When you compare the expenses of a high-school sport or even intramurals, this is a bargain. A single high school or intramural sport will cost more than this, possibly as much as $1000 or more. We ask for less than $20 a week from our Special Olympics athletes. We believe that Special Olympics is the best bargain in sports.
What if our athlete simply can’t afford to make the requested donation?
We will not refuse to let an athlete participate in Special Olympics because of money. One option would be to volunteer for fundraising events. The coach or a board member can help you strike a balance between volunteer time and money. If you are unable to volunteer, we ask that you fill out a scholarship application. The scholarship application will be reviewed by the board with input from the head coach for the sport and will either be approved or possibly denied.
You would really deny a scholarship to an athlete?
You betcha! If the athlete makes a habit of showing up in $200 tennis shoes, is dropped off in a Lexus, and wears 10 lbs of gold bling, then they could afford the donation. There are people who will try to take advantage of any situation, and the scholarship application along with the review process is a means of establishing need. For every athlete that does not pay, someone else has to pay more. This may be a sponsor, or if no sponsor can be found, it could possibly result in all athletes being asked to pay more the next year.
I understand that on an annual or per-month basis the cost is pretty cheap, but is there a way to spread out donations so I don’t get hit with one large donation in a single month?
Yes, you are welcome to make 2 or 3 equal donations. We would prefer the first as soon as possible and the last before state games.
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes, we can now accept credit card payments. Please contact your treasurer for details.
Who should I make a check out to?
To “GMSO”. Checks can be mailed to:
PO Box 491803, Lawrenceville, GA 30049
What about fundraising? Can’t we raise enough money so the athletes don’t have to pay?
In the future we may be able to have a steady and reliable stream of income through established fundraising and donations. However, we will probably always ask for a donation from the athletes. When they contribute time and money they feel more a part of the organization.
How much does it cost to run GMSO?
About $80,000 per year, including all supported sports plus a bowling league.
How do you know?
All expenses are tracked with receipts. Donations are tracked and acknowledged. Actual numbers are compared to budgeted numbers and used to generate the budget for the next year.
I’d like to make a donation. How can I make sure that my money goes to a specific sport? Doesn’t it all go into one big pot?
It’s easy to specify a sport. Just write the sport in the “For” line on the check. Money can be earmarked for a sport or for sponsorship of an athlete. If nothing is specified, then the money goes into the general fund.