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Special Olympics, Moose Fraternity Partnership Is Strong at National Invitational Softball Event

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The Moose fraternity is the title sponsor of Special Olympics softball. In early August, that partnership reached a new level at the National Invitational Tournament in Lincoln, NE. The tournament was a test run for the 2010 National Games, which also place in Lincoln.
On July 31, the eve of the Special Olympics National Invitational Tournament softball competition, a torch ceremony took place in Lincoln, NE. The softball competition took place the same weekend as a national invitational golf tournament. Both events were test runs for the larger National Games, which take place in 2010.
Mooseheart student Heather Zwicky helps a Lincoln police officer with medal presentations to the Virginia Gobblers, who won Second Place in the Unified Division.

MOOSEHEART, IL – As the 2010 Special Olympics National Games edge ever closer, the partnership between the Moose fraternity and Special Olympics softball becomes ever tighter.

That relationship took a quantum leap forward from July 31-Aug. 3 when Lincoln, NE hosted the National Invitational Golf and Softball Tournament.

For the Moose, the softball competition, which took place at the Fleming Fields diamonds, provided a perfect test event in anticipation of the 2010 event.

“It was the first time Special Olympics had a National Invitational Tournament for softball,” Moose International Director of Fraternal Programs Shawn Baile said. “Softball was part of the national games in 2006 but this was the first stand-alone national tournament for softball.”

Baile attended the event with Assistant Director of Fraternal Programs Chris Ecker.  Mooseheart students Heather Zwicky, Candace Casey, Amber Chandler and U-Conjay Nelson served as volunteers as were Family Teachers Tiffany Crump and Faith Kasper.

On the field, 12 teams comprising approximately 160 players competed for the titles in the tournament, which is sponsored by the Moose. That sponsorship so far has come to $50,000.

The National Invitational Tournament gave a good indication for how things might work next year at the National Games, which take place July 18-23 in Lincoln. The Moose will be the title sponsor of the softball competition at those Games.

 “We found what did and didn’t work,” Baile said. “When we go to the National Games, we will know not only what worked but what didn’t and also what we can do better to make the tournament a success.”

Teams from eight states competed in this year’s tournament. Not only were they cheered on by their families and Special Olympics volunteers but also by men and women of the Moose.

“One of the reasons we decided to partner with Special Olympics was because we had seen how many of our Lodges and Chapters were supportive of Special Olympics locally or within their states,” Baile said. “To us is seemed that this was a program that members wanted to be supportive of, and it was logical to take that support to the next level. On the weekend, there was some really good competition. We saw a lot of amazing plays in the field, with the bat and on the bases.”

Baile said “2010 can’t get here fast enough.” Plans are being made to bring the 2011 National Invitational Softball tournament to the Mooseheart campus.

“Representatives from Special Olympics North America will come to Mooseheart in October 2009 to hold some preliminary discussions about 2011,” Baile said. “They want to check out the campus, look at the facilities we have on campus and talk about what needs to be done for a tournament to take place in 2011.”

Founded in 1913, Mooseheart is supported completely through private donations - the great majority of which come from the 1.1 million men and women of the Moose fraternal organization, in more than 1,800 Lodges and 1,600 Chapters located throughout the U.S. , Canada , Great Britain and Bermuda . Moose International headquarters is located on the Mooseheart campus.

Since its founding, Mooseheart has operated a complete, accredited kindergarten-through-high-school academic program, plus art, music, vocational training and interscholastic sports. It is an extremely nurturing and student-tailored program, with an average student-teacher ratio of 12-1.

Mooseheart students who complete their studies with a 3.0 GPA or better (4.0=A) are eligible for up to five years of annually renewable scholarship funding, covering tuition, room and board in an amount comparable to that required for an in-state student at an Illinois public university.

Mooseheart is currently home to nearly 230 students, ranging in age from preschoolers to high school seniors. Applications for admission to Mooseheart are considered from any family whose children are, for whatever reason, lacking a stable home environment. Mooseheart boasts its own U.S. Post Office and a fully functioning branch of Fifth Third Bank.

In addition to Mooseheart, Moose International also supports Moosehaven, a 70-acre retirement community near Jacksonville , FL founded in 1922; and conducts more than $90 million worth of community service programs annually.

Founded in 1888, the Moose organization has long offered its members an opportunity to do good for others while celebrating life, with family, social, and sporting activities. For more information on the Moose organization, visit the websites at ,,, or call 630-966-2229.





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