NORMAL — Special Olympics Illinois will recognize recipients of its 2014 Hero Awards at a reception Friday at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in uptown Normal.
The awards are given to an individual, family, group or business that has demonstrated exemplary commitment to the organization and helped improved the quality of life for Special Olympics athletes.
Area recipients include: Kathleen O’Connell and Lindsay Bondurant, both of Normal; Illinois Wesleyan University; Illinois State University's Horton Field House crew; and Jeff Price and the El Paso Police Department.
O’Connell has worked with individuals with special needs for nearly 20 years. She has been a coach for nearly 15 years and served as the Special Olympics athletic director for Unit 5 Young Athletes Program for the past six years. Since the summer of 2013, she's served as the State Youth Activation Committee chair.
Bondurant worked to expand the Healthy Hearing programs for the past four years, providing screenings at both the state basketball and Summer Games events. She also helped the program get vouchers for free hearing aids and follows-up.
Mike Wagner, Kristy Duncan and the IWU athletes are being recognized in light of the partnership IWU and Special Olympics Illinois has had for 14 years. In addition to providing facilities and staff during competitions, they also recruit volunteers, host sporting experiences for Area 6 athletes and participate in the Bloomington Polar Plunge.
Illinois State University's Horton Field House crew includes Adam Southwick, Keith Smith, Dave Willert, Paul Crawford, Lucas Roach, Jonathon Dorrell, Tim Sulaski and Zach Collins. They've been instrumental in planning, organizing and conducting events at the university. The crew has been involved with Special Olympics for more than 36 years.
El Paso Police Chief Jeff Price and his department have been involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for more than 10 years, and, for the past several years Price, Officer Bryan Clark and Sgt. David Duncan have organized a trivia night that has raised thousands of dollars for the Torch Run.