Special Olympics Wyoming hosts Christmas fundraiser

Special Olympics athlete Alyssa and Coach Strickland enjoy all the festivities during a previous Festival of Trees Gala. Photo courtesy of Special Olympics Wyoming

By: Sarah Elmquist Squires

Every year, Special Olympics Wyoming gives opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities to shine, offering year-round training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports. Special Olympics helps participants develop courage and spread joy and friendship. It changes lives.

And like every nonprofit organization, Special Olympics Wyoming relies on community support to make so many dreams a reality. This year, during the organization’s 50th anniversary, families will have the opportunity to support Special Olympics Wyoming while greeting Santa during an event jam packed with fun and Christmas cheer. The Festival of Trees on December 3 in Casper will also include a special sneak peek Teddy Bear Tea event from 1-3 p.m., when attendees can meet Santa and pose for pictures with him, along with the Once Upon a Princess guests, and create one-of-a-kind Christmas momentos at the Create-A-Craft table. Those who attend the special Teddy Bear Tea will also have the chance to help decorate the Teddy Bear Tree with donated teddy bears, hats, and mittens, and vote to choose the People’s Choice tree. Cookies and refreshments will be available thanks to generous donors.

After the special Teddy Bear Tea, which is free with the donation of a new teddy bear, or new hats and mittens, the 34th annual Festival of Trees Gala will be held, with a cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres hour at 6 p.m. and the popular live auction beginning at 7 p.m. Both events will be held at the Best Western in downtown Casper, 123 East E Street.

During the Festival of Trees gala, attendees will have the chance to bid on auction items, which include decorated Christmas trees and wreaths all donated by businesses and community members. In years past, some of the auction items have included hundreds of dollars in sports memorabilia and game tickets, couples’ get-away packages, and much more.

This year, live auctioneer Heidi Foy will kick things off at 7 p.m., and Special Olympic Wyoming athletes will share their stories of courage and strength throughout the evening, along with educating guests about the organization’s “inclusion revolution” mission.

Teddy Bear Tea is free with a donation of a teddy, hat or mittens. Tickets for the Festival of Trees gala are $50 per person or $75 per couple. Can’t make it? You can bid online, donate an auction item or funds, or sponsor. Find more information on how to help at www.sowy.org or call 307-235-3062.

About Special Olympics Wyoming
Special Olympics Wyoming offers programming in every county in the state, serving more than 1,600 Wyoming athletes across 16 sports. Athletes and their families are never asked to pay to participate. Five statewise competitions are offered, along with many additional regional competitions. This year, the organization sent a delegation of 45 athletes, coaches, unified partners and staff to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Fla., and Special Olympics Wyoming continues to expand its programming year after year because of its generous donors.