Forty-seven "extraordinary individuals" were recognized recently for their dedication and commitment to Special Olympics.
The 2013 second annual Believers Awards Banquet was held on May 8 at the Audrain County 4-H Center in Mexico. During the banquet, several individual athlete awards, outstanding volunteer awards and an Outstanding Coach Award were presented, along with a slideshow of the athletes' performances.
"Fourteen years ago, when I became part of the Special Olympics movement, not only did I see people with disabilities; I began to see families in their rawest form. I saw people with their fears, heard stories of their isolations and exclusion, and saw this incredible determination and incredible willingness to try even though they were going to be made fun of," said Alisha Glasgow, program manager at the Breckenridge Heights Group Home and Special Olympics coach.
"Special Olympics provides an opportunity for every individual to feel accepted and appreciated. These individuals with disabilities give their best no matter what, and when they are done, they've succeeded."
Before the awards presentations, several area Special Olympians shared what Special Olympics has done for them, and what they appreciate most about being a Special Olympics athlete.
Becky George said, "I started Special Olympics at age 13, and what I like most is hanging out with friends."
Cora Merkley said, "I like being a part of Special Olympics because I get to have fun and do my favorite sports – basketball, bowling and track and field. I also like meeting new people that like the same sports I do."
Laura Large said, "I've been in Special Olympics since 2009. It helps me be active in sports and lose weight. It gives us something to be proud of."
Following the testimonials, Glasgow said,"As I stand here today as a coach for these amazing individuals, I can tell you that they changed my life those many years ago. I have learned many lessons from my new friends. Having the patience and the ability to quickly change lessons and adapt them to the athlete's needs are both more important to coaching than knowing the sport itself."
Glasgow added: "I thoroughly enjoy working with my athletes and I always look forward to my time with them as they show me how to live my life, not every day, but every second by their example. They have inspired me to have a positive outlook on life and have given me two major aspects of life … purpose and passion."
Following are the athletes recognized: Aaron Keniston, Allan Jarmillo, Amanda Masek, Amy Creed, Angel Lewthwaite, Anna Reed, Austin Welch, Becky George, Bethany Wills, Beverly Brower, Bowen Whiting, Brittany Petree, Connie Hinds, Cora Merkley, Darrell Watts, Demario Nunnelly, Donna Davis, Elizabeth Worthey, Gene Holbert, Glen Wagner, Heather Click, Jason Coffman, Josh Mackey, Justin Sparks, Katie Lauer, Kaylee Cunningham, Kelsay Hobbs, Kim Anderson, Kim Mercier, Laura Large, Lisa Rudy, Lonna Hampshire, Mark Edge, Mary Jo Leirheimer, Micheal Dubbert, Neecey Jones, Nicholas Cook, Paige Averhoff, Randy Cone, Randy Frank, Robert Blaue, Ronnie Broeker,Traci Welch, Trinity Burle, Trista Clifton, Tyler Carter, Zach Head.
Page 2 of 2 - "I can't imagine living in a world where everyone is the same and not unique. People of all disabilities are an integral part of this world. For that reason I will forever be indebted to the hundreds of athletes, or shall I say friends, that I have had the honor to meet across the state, but most importantly our very own local athletes … the Mexico Dawgs," Glasgow said.
The Exceptional Family Award was presented to the family of Zach Fennewald, and volunteer awards were given to: Zach Watkins, Allyn Phelps, R.J. Prince, Emily Nunan, Whitney Carter, Chris Burle, Meredith Kuda, Belinda Silvey, Carmen Cash, Amanda Belcher, Ruth Ann Taylor and Lisa Hamilton.
The Partners in Success recognized included: Lori Head, Larry and Stacy Keniston, Chris and Kenneth Burle, Liz and Micah Lauer, Donnie and Rosemary Welch, Bob and Nichole Cook, Carolyn and Steve Hobbs, Jessica Jacobs and Dave Cunningham, John and Kristen Carter, Wayne and Beverly Jones, Art Wagner, Laura Toalson and Dan Hudson, Sue Creed, Lisa Harrison and staff at Breckenridge Heights group home, Darlene Walsh and staff at C.T. Loyd Apartments, Jefferson Road ISL staff; Tammi Carter and Braun Home staff, Angie Snyder and all the Finck staff, and Jessica Nunan.
Glasgow closed the program, sharing the following Will Smith quote: "If you are not making someone else's life better, you are wasting your time."