(Posted Feb. 12, 2021)
Recently, the Madison County Special Olympics Program–affiliated with the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD)–announced the winners of its annual recognition awards. Heading the list was Camron Dixon, named Athlete of the Year.
Special Olympics athletes themselves, as well as staff and community members involved with the program, vote on the award winners.
Although opportunities were somewhat abbreviated in a year affected by the global pandemic, many athletes excelled in the chances they were given.
Basketball is the area in which Dixon excelled. Averaging 11.3 points a game throughout the playoffs, he helped to propel Madison Black to the Div. III State Special Olympics basketball title.
“Although abbreviated, Camron had an outstanding ‘year’ as an athlete for Madison County,” said Lincoln Comer, director of Special Olympics and community recreation for MCBDD. “He displayed extreme dedication, outstanding effort and progressively became a positive role model as the season went along.”
A longtime contributor to Madison County Special Olympics in various capacities, Mike Mast was named Coach of the Year. Using an open-minded approach and the weapons at hand, Mast put together an offensive plan that enabled the Tigers to capture the 2020 Div. III basketball title.
“In 2020, Mike’s tenacious coaching methods paid off as the Madison Black basketball squad advanced to the Final Four in Bowling Green,” Comer said. “Madison Black showed great team chemistry all season long while flourishing in Coach Mast’s offensive system.”
After dedicating much of her young life making things better for individuals with disabilities, Jessie Thompson was deservedly recognized as Volunteer of the Year. Never one to back down from a challenge, Thompson accepted the role of the newly founded Madison Gray Div. V basketball squad. The road was a little bumpy, but Thompson remained positive and weathered the storm. Her persistence paid off when she guided her team to an opening round victory in the post-season tournament.
“Volunteers are essential to run a Special Olympics program,” Comer said. “Quality volunteers like Jessie Thompson are a necessity to run an elite Special Olympics program.”
Again this year, Madison County Special Olympics honored an organization that has offered support to enhance the program. This year’s recipient of the Organization of the Year award is American Legion Post 417 Mount Sterling. Post 417 of has been a perennial aid for Madison County Special Olympics.
“In 2020, Post 417 was a major contributor as they came forward with funds to aid our Special Olympic program during these unprecedented times,” Comer said. “Through their generosity, our athletes will be better prepared to hit the field of play once the pandemic subsides.”
By all accounts, John and Brenda Clarridge are among of the most dedicated to their beloved Madison County Tigers, therefore, earning Fan of the Year honors.
“It would not be a Tigers basketball game without looking in the crowd and finding their faces,” Comer said. “It is the support from true fans like John and Brenda Clarridge that inspire our athletes to strive to reach their goals.”
Special Olympics athlete Shawn Engle was honored with the Savannah’s Heart of a Champion Award for his dedication to Special Olympics.
Named in memory of former Special Olympics athlete Savannah Wilson, the award recognizes a person who displays courage, determination and class on and off the court.
Engle, who typically competes in a variety of sports, is a dedicated player who always puts his team before himself.
“When given the chance, he makes the most of his opportunities and never disappoints,” Comer said of Engle. “He gives every ounce of himself and embodies the true ‘never give up’ Tiger spirit.”
For more information about Special Olympics in Madison County, contact Lincoln Comer at (740) 852-7052, ext. 1917.