SOMT Appreciative of Washington Family Support


Last week, Dennis and Phyllis Washington, and the Washington Companies/Montana Rail Link, kindly donated the usage of their “Silver Cloud” train to Special Olympics Montana to use as a fund-raiser for the organization, as well as providing a fantastic opportunity to kick-off events leading to next spring’s SOMT Summer Games in Missoula on May 19-22, 2015.  The games will also be in Missoula in both 2016 and 2017.

This is only the latest instance of the Washington family’s generous support for the SOMT mission – both financially and in helping to back the worthwhile mission. Over the years, the Washingtons have given charitably to many organizations across western Montana, and this latest unique venture was enormously successful, producing wonderful results as the fund-raising for the Summer Games begins.  It also gave more than 100 individuals an opportunity to witness the incredibly beautiful fall colors of western Montana as the train traveled the 50-mile route from the Missoula train depot at the end of Higgins Ave. to Dixon and back.


Photo Courtesy of Montana Rail Link

Along the scenic three-hour journey, the travelers were treated to enjoyable piano music from Renee Bolton, outstanding food and beverage, leisurely accommodations and a rare opportunity to witness the quick draw artistic talents of world-renown artist Larry Pirnie (with assistance from Lynne Himes of LA Design).  At the end of the trip, the piece was auctioned off, with all proceeds going to SOMT. A few other auction items also contributed to the final totals raised.  Others who made in-kind donations to help the cause included Bravo! Catering, Spiker Communications, Montgomery Distillery, Draught Works, My Viola Flower Shop, Advanced Litho, The Badlander, Winegardner’s Wines of Bozeman, Where is Wine, Holiday Inn Parkside, and Coca Cola/Missoula.


This quick draw piece by Larry Pirnie was auctioned off at the end of the trip.

A real highlight of the day was the involvement of the SOMT athletes who engaged passengers.  Colter Maul/Missoula, Tanealya Hueth/Great Falls, Chris Clare and his Unified Partner Jon Wilson/Victor, Gary Fuller/Missoula, Hilary Benjamin/Missoula, James Skime/Missoula, and Athlete of the Year Josh Anderson/Great Falls shared their compelling stories.

For more on the memorable ride, check out the Special Olympics Montana Facebook page, or go to the website at:


Travelers were treated to enjoyable piano music, outstanding food and beverage, and leisurely accommodations.

Although this was the latest venture supported by the Washingtons and Washington Companies, the family – in particular sons Kyle and Kevin – will be recognized and honored at this weekend’s football game for contributing the largest single financial gift to UM Athletics to help construct a much-needed weight room and men’s locker room facility near Washington-Grizzly Stadium.  This gift will help pave the way for the future of Grizzly Athletics, much like the original stadium gift by their parents did for The University of Montana almost 30 years ago.

Western Montana, and the entire state of Montana by all accounts, should thank the Washington family for its incredible support of this great state – and for making it such a wonderful place to live. na by all accounts, should thank the Washington family for its incredible support Since its inception in 1998, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation has donated more than $130 million to charitable causes.


Jim O’Day was Director of Athletics at the University of Montana from 2005-2012. He also served as the Assistant Director of the Grizzly Athletic Association (1998-2000) and later as the Director of Development for UM Intercollegiate Athletics (2000-2005).

Prior to returning to his alma mater in 1998, O’Day was the owner/publisher of the family-owned Western Breeze newspaper in Cut Bank, MT. He was also sports editor of the Kalispell Daily Interlake from 1980-82.

In late 2013, Jim started his own consulting business, O’Day Enterprises, LLC.  His main clients include Farran Realty Partners, a private equity real estate development/investment firm based in Missoula; Epio Solutions of Seattle/Missoula, an agency primarily focused on branding/marketing/public relations utilizing various social media platforms for businesses, universities, non-profits and individuals; and BancVue, a company based in Austin, Texas, that aligns itself with small community banks and credit unions across the country to compete against the large mega banks. In addition, Jim is consulting for various oil and gas firms, as well as providing valuable professional resource services for intercollegiate athletics, fund-raising, capital raises, employment opportunities, etc. 

Jim and his wife Kathy have three sons: Chris, Kevin and Brian – all three graduates of The University of Montana.


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