On Aug. 10, Special Olympics Indiana – Ripley Ohio Dearborn celebrated the achievements of its athletes, coaches, families and volunteers at its eighth annual Athletic Achievement Banquet Aug. 10 at the Sunman American Legion, reports delegation coordinator Greg Townsend.
Special guests included Steve Johnson, Lawrenceburg High School assistant principal; Jeff Stratman, Aurora city attorney; E.G. McLaughlin, United Community Bank executive vice president; and Ron Paolello, who represented the Lawrenceburg Fire Department.
The Jerry Cashman Family, Dillsboro, received the Family of the Year Award. This honor is given to a family in which every member participates in Special Olympics. Becky Cashman has participated as an athlete since 2004. This past program year, she trained and competed in basketball, softball, unified volleyball, corn toss, skiing, bowling and aquatics. She practices at least twice a week for at least an hour. She will compete in the Special Olympics USA Games in June 2014.
Her parents, Jerry Cashman and Ann Cashman, have participated as unified partners on unified volleyball and softball teams for the past several years. A unified team is one in which an athlete of no disability competes with athletes with disabilities for support. The family has also formed a team each year of the Versailles Plunge to help raise funds for Special Olympics.
“The Cashman family truly exemplifies the Special Olympics spirit of skill, courage, sharing and joy,” Townsend noted.
Cazz Burdette, Batesville, was named Coach of the Year. He has served the ROD delegation for seven years. He coaches volleyball and flag football and does not have a family member involved in Special Olympics. He continues to serve as an ALPS mentor, assisting his athlete in completing his volunteer hours and curriculum.
Burdette has served on the committees for both Polar Plunge and Fire Truck Pull fundraising events. He was
also the emcee at those events for the past several years. Each year for the Polar Plunge, he distributes money jars to various merchants spanning across two counties that brings hundreds of dollars for fundraising efforts.
“Cazz consciously acts to make sure every athlete is welcome, treated fairly and appreciated,” said Townsend. “He is a true leader and a tremendous asset to our delegation.”
The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Jimmy Laub, Lawrenceburg, whose relationship with Special Olympics began eight years ago when he was a sophomore in high school. He said his initial involvement was to earn service hours, but the organization’s mission and athletes is what kept him involved.
He volunteers for activities, including loading and unloading equipment and supplies, photographing sporting and special events, transporting athletes to and from practice and coaching snowboarding. “Jimmy’s tireless generosity, enthusiasm, and modesty, through his years of commitment to Special Olympics best exemplifies the dedication and unselfish efforts associated with the true spirit of Special Olympics,” Townsend revealed.
Jacob Eldridge received the Athlete of the Year Award. The Sunman resident has competed in softball, snowboarding, basketball, cross country and track and field. At the Summer Games, he achieved a personal best by bringing home three gold medals in the 400M, 800M and 1500M races. As a result, he will compete in the Special Olympics USA Games in June 2014.
Eldridge has also taught himself how to play the guitar. With the recent passing of his grandmother, he wrote
and played a song in her loving memory. Plans are underway for him to play at his sister’s wedding next summer. He has also received his learner’s permit and hopes in the next month or two to get his driver’s license.
“Eldridge is a true leader with his on-and-off-the-field performances. He is well respected and loved by his
Special Olympics family,” Townsend announced.
By receiving their delegation-level awards, each recipient is nominated for a state-level Special Olympics award.