The Stallions Story
it all began...with an idea
In the fall of 2011, a small group of local parents, teachers, and community members gathered to discuss the idea of trying to provide more opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities in our area - by starting a local Special Olympics team. With the help of Special Olympics Minnesota and our friends from the Monticello Mavericks Special Olympics team, this determined group pulled together the necessary resources to start our very own Special Olympics group right here in the St. Michael-Albertville community. Our first sports practice was held in April of 2012 when we started Track & Field with just 8 athletes and a few coaches (most of whom were parents of athletes). Later that fall, we gave Bowling a shot and our group doubled in size. In January of 2013 we started our first Basketball season and saw even more athletes join our group. By the time we started our second season of Track & Field, our group had more than tripled in size – reinforcing the necessity and importance of our Stallions group.
Along with sporting opportunities, we started adding in social outings and community involvement opportunities for team members, such as going to the movies as a group, calling bingo at the local retirement home, delivering food to patrons at Culver's on fundraiser nights for our team, packing Operation Christmas Child boxes, putting on special choir performances through our Ogni Voce (means "every voice" in Italian) choir, collecting donations for Hanover Food Shelf, Christmas caroling for the residents at the local retirement home, cutting a rug at annual dances with our Monticello Mavericks friends, attending Twins games as a team (thanks to the TwinsCare Grant Program), and much more. As word spread that our group wasn't just a sports team, but an all-encompassing community team, we grew even more. In fact, we haven't stopped growing since that first sports practice in 2012.
Special Olympics Unified Sports programs bring people with and without intellectual disabilities together for competition, leadership and other inclusive activities. We jumped on-board Special Olympics Minnesota's PLAY UNIFIED initiative officially in the spring of 2014 when we had our first 4x100M Unified relay compete. From there, we added Unified Flag Football, and in the winter of 2015 we had our first Unified full court basketball team compete at the Special Olympics Minnesota State Basketball Tournament. The PLAY UNIFIED movement has been a tremendous part of our program. Initially it provided many of the siblings of Stallions athletes an "official" position (aside from simply helping out at practices) on the team. But now, we're seeing huge growth in other kids and adults joining our group as Unified Partners who want to come alongside our athletes and play as teammates with them.
Currently, we offer unified sports opportunities in: Track & Field, Flag Football & Basketball. This initiative truly embraces the Stallions philosophy from the very beginning - to LIVE UNIFIED.
The Stallions are extremely fortunate to have had several supporters rise up within STMA Schools. Many would refer to them as "school liaisons". But we prefer to call them our "school ROCK STARS". They've worked hard to start and grow a mindset of inclusion within the local schools. They've helped raise awareness within the student population and also amongst the school staff. The Stallions have become popular and celebrated especially at STMA High School which has been incredible to see. We've been given opportunities to show off our skills during Boys and Girls Varsity Basketball games, Varsity Football games, and even at Varsity Track & Field meets thanks to the support of many of the STMA High School coaches. The captains of our Stallions sports teams have been recognized at pep-fests along with their peers in various varsity sports, and our athletes have even been included in the "All-State" athlete posters that are printed up and displayed around the school as well as out in the community. We've also seen great support from STMA Choirs as they helped start a special needs choir performance (Ogni Voce) that we've been doing annually since 2013, thanks to Mr. Osowski and a student running with a great idea to form the Ogni Voce choir the first year. While our group is a community-based team, it's fantastic to have the support of so many within the schools!
People often think our athletes are all from St. Michael-Albertville, but actually, our athletes come from all around: Hanover, Otsego, Elk River, Monticello, Maple Lake, Buffalo, Annandale, Rogers, Zimmerman, Maple Grove, and beyond. We love that our group has participants from all around this area! It's been very rewarding to see our athletes, unified partners and coaches come together to form this incredible Stallions team.
From the very start, the Stallions have received phenomenal financial support from the community, various sports teams and other local businesses and organizations. We are so grateful for the continued support of our team! There's no way our team could continue to grow and thrive the way it has without the financial support we've received. Every dollar truly does count. The impact your financial donation makes is life-changing - just ask any of the families who are apart of our group. They can tell you first-hand what a difference joining the Stallions has made in the life of their child as well as the life of their family. Thank you to all who have donated and continue to donate to our group! We appreciate your support more than we can ever express.
Culver's in Albertville has been a huge supporter of the Stallions from the very start. They've allowed us to hold fundraisers on a fairly regular basis that not only helps raise funds for our group, but also gives our athletes an opportunity to practice real-world job skills, while giving the community an opportunity to support our team and mingle with our athletes, unified partners, coaches, and families.
STMA Knights Girls Basketball
The STMA Knights Girls Basketball team has been HUGE supporters of the Stallions from the very start! Not only do they help with fundraising efforts in support of our team, they also attend our competitions/tournaments (players and coaches), they invite our group to participate in half-time features where our athletes are able to show off their basketball skills, and they embrace our Stallions athletes.
Liberty Restaurant and Bar - American Legion Post 567
Liberty Restaurant and Bar has been a wonderful supporter of the Stallions, donating proceeds from various meat raffles and fish fries over the years.
NAPA Auto Parts in Elk River has been a continued supporter of the Stallions, and we appreciate their generous donations.
Dairy Queen in St. Michael has been another faithful supporter of the Stallions since the beginning. They've held regular monthly fundraisers and we are so very grateful for their continued support!
We've been so fortunate to have so many wonderful supporters over the years! Thank you to everyone who has supported the Stallions financially, including: Ditto's Bar, Cabela's, Geez Sports Bar & Grill, Albertville Lions, First American Bank, St. Michael Lions, STMA Middle School East (Struttin' for Stallions Fundraiser), St. Michael Elementary, STMA Knights Boys Basketball, Mill City Credit Union, River Inn, Central Bank, Zachman Insurance, Bob Hageman Foundation, STMA Rotary, Beaudry Insurance, Imagine Orthodontics, St. Michael Subway, and many more, including individual donations by many of our athletes and unified partner's families.