Ep: 034 Mark Musso

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Mark MussoMark Musso has served as President  & CEO of Special Olympics Missouri since 1991.  Special Olympics Missouri provides year round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Prior to coming to Missouri, Mark was Executive Director of Minnesota Special Olympics and Director of Games Operations for the 1991 International Special Olympics Games.  

Mark began his Special Olympics involvement in 1972 as a volunteer in Special Olympics Kansas. He served as member of the Chapter Summer Games GMT, Area Training Director, and his favorite role – Special Olympics Coach.

Mark has served as Chairman of United States Leadership Council and a member of the North America Leadership Council for Special Olympics. Mark currently serves as Chairman of the North American Special Olympics Professionals and Vice-Chairman of the Law Enforcement Torch Run International Executive Council. Mark was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame as a Sports Executive in 2010.

In addition, Mark served as President of the Missouri Society of Association Executives, served as a member of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health, Past President of the Jefferson City Basketball Officials Association and officiated high school basketball for 31 years.

Mark earned a Master of Business Administration in Organizational Behavior and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management from Wichita State University, as well as serving as WuShock the Mascot.

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Show Notes:

  • His family grew up in Jefferson City.
  • Mark brought his wireless phone to Gary to put in his car in 1991.
    • Gary did it for free and after that Special Olympics took all their business to Gary.
  • Gary got his passion for Special Olympics from Mark Musso.
  • The habit that has led to success in Mark’s life has been if he says he is going to do it, he is going to do it.
    • He has always believed, “If you can’t do it then don’t say you are going to do it.”
  • In college, he was WuShock the mascot for Wichita State.
    • He was asked to be the mascot when the athletic department decided that they did not want the mascot so it came to student affairs and the Dean of Student Affairs asked him to fill the role.
  • This is a special year for the Special Olympics as it is their 50th year.TLC Front
    • It was started in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in her backyard.
    • This is an avenue for people to learn from other people.
    • It also gives people with intellectual disabilities a place to compete.
    • Through sports, they can be a part of their community.
  • Within Special Olympics you can learn about the athlete from their abilities and not because of their disabilities.
  • Sports give common ground with others.
  • Unified Sports pair Special Olympics athletes with a partner.
  • One athlete just set the squat record at 535 pounds.
  • Mark Musso got started 46 years ago in Hutchinson, KS.
    • He was at a Key Club meeting and was asked to help at a retarded (language has since changed) track meet.
    • On the 4 block walk home, he knew his life would never be the same.
  • R-Word: Spread the word to end the word
  • The R-Word is terribly offensive and should not be used.
  • Special Olympics has gone from just sports to being sports and a health screening organization.
  • The level of competition has significantly increased over time.
  • In 1991 Mark Musso came to Missouri shortly after he had accepted the Minnesota CEO job.
    • When the Missouri job came open he was intrigued by the bigger program and his wife’s parents lived in Missouri.
    • When he accepted the job, he promised the search committee he would stay 3 years and he is still there today.
    • He has worked with 14 different boards
  • Special Olympics Training for Life Campus (TLC)TLC Aerial
    • Mark says, “We would not have the Training for Life Campus without Gary.”
    • This campus will essentially be the USOC for Missouri Special Olympics Athletes.
    • It will also have permanent health screening rooms with first-class exams
    • The TLC will host camps of about 40 athletes at a time.
    • People from all over will come to see the facility.
  • Athlete Leadership University
    • Allows athletes to major in different areas.
  • 52% of the athletes are in the workplace and make a difference in their community.
  • One time while Mark Musso was a coach he was getting the team loaded up for the state softball tournament and he had Billy who was a “runner”.
    • Mark heard the van door open and had to go chase Billy down and put him in the back corner of the van.
    • When he got in one athlete said let’s put him in a pot and cook him!
    • So Mark joked with Billy about putting him in a pot. (They want to be joked with not felt sorry for.)
  • As a part of the USA Management team, he had another occasion that really stood out to him.
    • At the world games in Dublin, Ireland there was a swimmer from St. Louis. Her father is very well known and he always struggled with the fact that he had a daughter with special needs.
    • When she came off the award stand after winning a bronze medal she said to her dad:
      • “Daddy are you proud of me now?”
      • He responded with, “You are the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
  • Special Olympics thrives on volunteers and what they really need right now are coaches.
    • To learn how to volunteer go to SOMO.org
  • The Training for Life Campus has been designated so that it can be depreciated over 75 years.  So, this campus will last long into the future and transform the landscape for Special Olympics training.

Mark Musso’s Recharge Round

  1. Share with us how you believe your mindset affects your life. He firmly believes it affects your life but has had to learn it. He starts his day out with Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
  2. What do you do daily to bring Energy into your life? Special Olympics brings him the energy he needs (finding his passion)
  3. Share the number one connection that has made the biggest impact on your life. Joining the world of Special Olympics
  4. What advice has Influenced you the most in your life? “You can’t let your circumstances and your surroundings dictate your success or lack thereof”
  5. Recommend a book and share why you love it. Positive Culture Wins, In Business & Life
    Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World
  6. Define in one sentence or less, what legacy you want to leave on the world.  “That he helps people to focus on people’s abilities and find common ground


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