Locally Grown: Mari Ibis

Interviews with South Dakotans finding success outside their college major by Kyle Hallberg.

Images submitted


When most of us graduate from high school, we have a dream or a goal, to be apart of something bigger than our academic career. For Mari Ibis, that dream started before high school, and that ‘something bigger’ was way bigger than she could have ever imagined. Ibis found herself involved in the South Dakota Special Olympics, a 48-year-old program that is based on sportsmanship, competition and responsibility.

In great anticipation of the opening of the Unify Center, a South Dakota specific Special Olympic Training Center, Ibis and I sat down to talk about the meaning the games have held in her life, in and out of school.

Kyle Hallberg: When did you first get involved with the Special Olympics?

Mari Ibis: I believe I started Special Olympics in 2003.

That’s a while ago. Did you ever play sports in school?

MI: I played Y-ball in 4th and 5th grade, but I never played sports in high school.

So, what made you want to join the Special Olympics.

MI: I wanted to start participating in the Special Olympics so I could have the opportunity to play different kinds of sports.

That’s awesome. After you graduated high school, what did you do? Work, school, something else?

MI: After I graduated high school in 2010, I went to the community campus in the mornings and worked in the afternoons.

What kinds of classes did you take at the community campus?

MI: It was actually a program through the Sioux Falls School District for people with disabilities. It was designed so they could work on their independent living skills for people between the ages of 18 and 21.

That’s so great. So, going back to the Special Olympics, what events do you compete in?

MI: I play softball and basketball. I also bowl, swim and compete for the track and field team.

Wow, that’s a lot of events for one person. Do you have a favorite?

MI: Probably bowling.

That would probably be mine too. Since you started with the Special Olympics, almost thirteen years ago, what has the experience meant for you?

MI: They just give me the opportunity to feel proud.

As a quintuple athlete, Ibis has a great future in the South Dakota Special Olympics. Speaking with Ibis gave me a new insight into the world of athletics, whether they be through the YMCA or the Special Olympics. With five age groups that span across the entirety of the games, it is obvious that Ibis’ time in the Olympics will not be ending any time soon. Ibis turned my attention to the multiplicity of ways we can be involved with the Special Olympics, which you can look into too by going to sosd.org.



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