Mike Ellis named Special Olympics Athlete of the Year

Recently, Madison County Special Olympics celebrated its 2022 award winners. They include: (from left) Mike Ellis, Athlete of the Year; Carrie Kuhn, Coach of the Year; Wesley Pierce, Volunteer of the Year; Keith Smith of Madison Community Housing, Organization of the Year; Josh and Tyler Caines accepting the Fan of the Year award on behalf of their family; and Chad Burks, Savannah’s Heart of a Champion.

(Posted Feb. 14, 2023)

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 Mike Ellis who earned Athlete of the Year.

Special Olympics athletes, staff and community members involved with the program vote on the winners.

Program organizers were excited to get back to regular live action following health and safety restrictions related to the recent global pandemic.

Mike Ellis is a king when it comes to Special Olympics golf. Ellis was selected to not only represent Madison County but the entire state of Ohio at the 2022 USA Games held in Orlando, Fla. All he did was earn a first-place finish.

“He has shown great maturity, dedication, and has excelled at the game of golf,” said Lincoln Comer, director of Special Olympics and community recreation for the MCBDD. “After a flurry of rounds versus stiff competition, Mike forged ahead and brought home the gold for Team Ohio on the last day of the tournament.”

By using methods learned through connections she made during the COVID-19 hiatus, Carrie Kuhn reinvigorated the Tigers’ powerlifting program, and earned Coach of the Year honors. She led the Tigers to medals in the State Summer Games last year when they returned to The Ohio State University in full force.

“Carrie and her son immersed themselves in the sport during the pandemic to help deal with the mental and physical aspects it affected,” Comer said. “Once restrictions were lifted, she got back to work and her mission to revitalize Madison County’s powerlifting program.”

Kind, courteous, and helpful are just three words used to describe Wesley Pierce, Volunteer of the Year.

“When it comes to volunteer work, Wesley Pierce is a Madison County staple,” Comer said. “There is no job too big or too small, and each task he performs is treated with the utmost importance.”

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 Madison Community Housing (MCH).

MCH’s contributions made it possible for athletes and coaches to stay in Bowling Green, Ohio, during the 2022 state basketball tournament.

“The Madison Community Housing Board has long been a major contributor to our county’s Special Olympics program,” Comer said. “Through their generosity, our athletes were afforded the opportunity to enjoy themselves and compete for a state title.”

Super dedication to virtually all Madison County Special Olympics activities is one of the main reasons Josh, Natasha, and the rest of Caines family were the top choice for Fan of the Year honors.

“They show up to softball games, basketball games, football games, track meets, or wherever their beloved Tigers may be,” Comer said. “It is the constant support and inspiration from fans like the Caines family that help our teams reach their goals.”

Special Olympics athlete Chad “Coach” Burks was honored with the Savannah’s Heart of a Champion Award for his dedication to Madison County Special Olympics.

Named in memory of former Special Olympics athlete Savannah Wilson, the award honors a person who displays courage, determination, and class on and off the court.

Competing in basketball, track, and softball, Burks is known for his dedication and preparation.

“No matter the sport, Chad shows up to every practice on time and ready to go,” Comer said. “He defines the word commitment and is the standard to which all athletes should dedicate themselves.”

For more information about Special Olympics in Madison County, contact Lincoln Comer at (740) 852-7052, ext. 1917.

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