Lifting Madison County Special Olympics to the next level.
Recently, the Madison County Special Olympics Program — affiliated with the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities — announced the winners of its annual recognition awards. Topping the list was Jason Shingler who earned Coach of the Year.
The awards are voted on by the Special Olympics athletes themselves, as well as staff and community people who are involved with the program.
For years, Powerlifting was contemplated as a sport to offer Madison County’s Special Olympics athletes. When the sport was added, the athletes quickly excelled — thanks in part to the coaching dedication of Shingler.
“Although we had many resources such as equipment and a facility to train at, we lacked the most important piece, a coach,” said Lincoln Comer, Director of Special Olympics and Community Recreation for Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “That all changed when Jason Shingler volunteered his services and dedicated himself to learning the many rules and regulations of Powerlifting.”
Working hard on the slopes, the diamond, and two types of courts earned Michael Elfrink the Athlete of the Year award. Among his accomplishments were capturing gold and bronze medals in Alpine Skiing at the Winter Games, serving as a dominant defensive player on the basketball court, an all-tournament selection on the Tigers silver medal-winning National Volleyball Team, and a right fielder for the softball squad. Elfrink has been chosen to represent Ohio in the 2018 USA Games to be held in Washington State in July.
“Michael has had an outstanding year as an athlete for Madison County,” Comer said. “He has shown great perseverance, dedication and proven himself to be an extremely versatile athlete.”
During the past year, Judy Coy helped out in a variety of areas for Madison County Special Olympics, earning her Volunteer of the Year honors. Coy has worked the concession stand during home games, helped with a variety of events, kept game stats, assisted with overnights, provided transportation as a driver and was an assistant coach for the track team. She exemplifies the adage that ‘good things come in small packages,’ according to Comer.
“Judy may be small but her efforts are enormous,” Comer said. “She is an irreplaceable asset when it comes to volunteering and working with our athletes.”
Again this year, Madison County Special Olympics honored an organization which has offered support to enhance some aspect of the program. This year’s recipient of the Organization of the Year award is American Legion Post No. 417 of Mount Sterling.
Contributions by the service organization made it possible for the Unified Volleyball team to attend the USAV Open National Volleyball Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota — where they placed second nationally.
“The American Legion Post 417 of Mount Sterling has always been a perennial aid for our county’s program and 2017 was no different,” Comer said. “Through their generosity our athletes had the opportunity to compete at the highest level while making memories which will last a lifetime.”
A relative newcomer to the Tigers family, it did not take long for Danielle Salters’ enthusiasm to shine through, earning her Fan of the Year honors.
“No matter the sport Danielle can be heard indoors or outdoors cheering at every Tiger game,” Comer said. “It is fans like her that encourage our athletes to strive for excellence and put forth their very best effort.”
Special Olympics athlete Marlyn Zeeck was honored with the Savannah’s Heart of a Champion Award for her team play and encouraging nature.
Named in memory of former Special Olympics athlete Savannah Wilson, the award symbolizes a person who displays courage, determination, and class both on and off the court.
“Marlyn is the quintessential team player who does everything that is asked of her and then some,” Comer said. “She cheers on her fellow athletes and always has a word of encouragement for those in need.”
For more information about Special Olympics in Madison County, contact Comer at 740-852-7052, ext. 1917.