Nonprofit Spotlight

05 Feb 2019

Local Organizations Working to Make a Difference

Winter 2018/2019

| Images: Courtesy Special Olympics Wyoming and Joelle Lazzareschi


Each winter, Special Olympics Wyoming brings the statewide winter games to Jackson Hole. This February, over 200 athletes will compete in
sports like Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Events occur at numerous local venues including Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton Pines, Jackson Hole High School, and Snow King Mountain. Participants eat meals at the Jackson Hole Elks Lodge. Over 140 coaches and chaperones will also be in attendance, as well as 20 partners from an inclusive sports program called Unified Sports.

When the Special Olympics athletes show up to compete this year, they’ll be clad in distinctive colorful scarves. Each year, volunteers with the nationwide Scarf Project create handmade scarves for participants to wear in a color-coordinated endeavor to show unity and acceptance.
This year’s athletes will don scarves in all shades of neon and black.

While the statewide winter games are a huge event for the organization, Special Olympics Wyoming also holds other events during different times of year, including competitions in summer and fall, as well as a Jackalope Ride and Law Enforcement Torch Run. Additionally, they participate in Old Bill’s Fun Run each year.


The Vertical Harvest greenhouse on the corner of Simpson and Milward is best known for providing sustainable local vegetables—even in the middle of winter. However, it also provides jobs for many underserved residents through Cultivate, the workforce arm of the organization, which provides employment for 28 locals, including 16 with disabilities.

The organization’s mission is driven by the high unemployment rate (up to 78 percent) among people with disabilities in the state. Cultivate’s mission says: “We believe that employment is a key part of life, and everyone has a right to work.” The organization works to create an inclusive workplace by providing training for both management and employees in order to foster a supportive environment where people can empower one another.

Following the Grow Well Employment Model, Cultivate uses a three-pronged approach focusing on personal, professional, and community development. This includes everything from helping individuals plan a desired career path and set goals toward attaining it, to developing a sense
of self-awareness, increasing self-advocacy, and attaining self-empowerment. The model also focuses on building strong connections, including
providing mentoring opportunities.

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