Pruitt named Special Olympics Athlete of the Year

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Madison County Special Olympics recently celebrated its 2021 award winners: (from left) Lincoln Comer, Coach of the Year; Cory Coburn, ABC Restrooms, Organization of the Year; John Huffman, Volunteer of the Year; Stacey Wallace, Fan of the Year, award accepted by her son, Carl; Mike Williams, Savannah’s Heart of a Champion award winner; and Dustin Pruitt, Athlete of the Year.

(Posted Feb. 1, 2022)

The Madison County Special Olympics program–affiliated with the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD)–recently announced the winners of its annual recognition awards. Heading the list was Dustin Pruitt who earned Athlete of the Year.

Special Olympics athletes, staff, and community people who are involved with the program vote on the winners.

Although opportunities were still somewhat abbreviated in a year affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, many athletes excelled in the chances they were given.

Unified softball was the area in which Pruitt excelled. As a pitcher and major offensive contributor, Pruitt helped to pace the Madison County Tigers to the Div. I State Special Olympics Unified Softball title. He also plays for the Tigers’ Div. III basketball squad, leading the team in assists.

“Dustin has had an outstanding year as an athlete for the Madison County Special Olympics program,” said Lincoln Comer, MCBDD director of Special Olympics and community recreation. “He has shown great maturity, dedication and has excelled at the grueling game of softball.”

The longtime leader of Madison County Special Olympics, Comer earned Coach of the Year honors. He led the Tigers to Madison County’s first Div. I state title in more than a decade, this time on the softball diamond.

“After a long hiatus from competitive sports, no one knew exactly how Special Olympics would bounce back in Ohio,” Comer’s nominator stated. “In Madison County, it came in the form of a D-1 unified state softball title.”

The unified golf team resurfaced in 2021, and John Huffman was an integral part of it, earning the Volunteer of the Year award.

“His warm smile, positive attitude and pleasant demeanor were always a welcome sight for our athletes,” Comer said. “If not for the dedication of volunteers like Mr. Huffman, many of our athletes would have again forfeited their chance to play the game they enjoy so much.”

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 ABC Restrooms.

For years, ABC Restrooms has donated reliable, on-site facilities for Tigers’ practices, games, tournaments, and outings.

“Practice is critical when making sure athletes are prepared for their various venues of competition,” Comer said. “Practice without a restroom in proximity is nearly impossible for any athlete at any level.”

Her devotion to the many Madison County Tigers teams was instrumental in Stacey Wallace receiving Fan of the Year honors.  From softball to basketball, she’s always on hand to support the Tigers.

“Some may say she had an unfair advantage as she had so many family members to cheer for,” Comer said. “Stacey might say the only perk she received was a hoarse throat from cheering for so many different Tiger teams.”

Special Olympics athlete Mike Williams 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 symbolizes a person who displays courage, determination, and class on and off the court.

Competing in bowling and golf, Williams is known for being humble, dedicated, and putting forth effort, even playing through adversity.

“No matter the sport, Mike shows up on time, smiling and ready to go,” Comer said. “He defines the word ‘even-keeled’ and is the standard to which all athletes should dedicate themselves.”

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

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