Oct. 31, 2016, JACKSON, Miss. —Special Olympics Mississippi will honor longtime champion and retired state Representative Rita Martinson, as well as its athletes and volunteers, at the Go For The Gold Gala, November 10 at The South in Jackson.

The Go For The Gold Gala will also showcase artwork from Special Olympics Mississippi athletes, including pottery that Jeff Brock, Charlie Winstead, Royce Smith, Savannah Wilson and Jane Kileen created at the Mustard Seed. Attendees will be able to meet the athlete-artists and bid on their work in a silent auction to benefit Special Olympics Mississippi.

Additional artists, including Wyatt Waters and Gary Walters, have donated prints and original artwork for the silent auction. All proceeds raised from this cocktail/black-tie optional event will support the programs of Special Olympics Mississippi.

“Every donation made directly to Special Olympics Mississippi, including money raised at this gala, stays in the state,” said Kenny Williamson, chairman of the Special Olympics Mississippi board of directors. “Those funds go toward providing quality athletic training and competitions for our more than 4,000 athletes who compete in more than 50 annual events statewide, as well as national and international competitions.”

Martinson, who represented Mississippi District 58 from 1992 until retiring in 2016, spearheaded the first gala for Special Olympics Mississippi and continued in that role for 13 years. During her tenure in the state legislature, where she served on committees ranging from education to tourism, Martinson would bring Special Olympians to the floor of the House of Representatives to be recognized by the Speaker of the House and receive commendations for their achievements.

“It all goes back to the athletes,” said Martinson. “It takes courage to put yourself out there in front of everybody and do the best you can. It touches your heart when you see how much they appreciate being able to participate in Special Olympics, and how the families enjoy seeing them thrive.”

The silent auction will include sports memorabilia autographed by NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre, Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze, and much more. Tickets for the Gala are $75 each or $125 for couples, and are available online at

Special Olympics Mississippi thanks sponsors MS Sports Medicine; Key Constructors; Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities; Bob Boyte Honda; Children’s Health Center; Ergon; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi; BankPlus; Gosselin Foundation; Huntington Ingalls Industries; Favre4Hope; Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance; Southern Healthcare; Scarlet Pearl Casino; BankFirst; MMC Materials; Sunbelt Sealing; Bulldog Construction; Magnolia Health; Parker & Associates; SOMS Capital Region; SOMS DeSoto Region; Wade Sims; Paul & Mandy Rogers; and Rebecca & Danny Broom.

Special Olympics Mississippi became one of the first pilot programs after Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver visited Ellisville State School in Jones County in 1968, and was officially incorporated and recognized by the state in August 1975.

Today, Special Olympics Mississippi serves more than 4,000 athletes through a network of 17 multi-county areas and thousands of volunteers. Athletes compete locally at more than 50 events across the state, then statewide at the annual Summer Games and Fall Games. Athletes can then advance to the national and international levels of competition.

About Special Olympics Mississippi
Chartered in 1975, the mission of the Mississippi Chapter of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics Athletes and their communities. For more information, please visit us at