Section C:
Volunteering with Special Olympics Texas

Special Olympics Texas would not exist today and could not have continued for more than 45 years without the time, energy, dedication, and commitment of tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the state of Texas.

Volunteer Expectations

As a volunteer, you are expected to...

Fulfill the responsibility of your assignment:

  • Carry out all aspects of your assignment.
  • Attend all required meetings.
  • Notify the volunteer coordinator if you cannot complete an assignment.

Set an example for the athlete:

  • Refrain from smoking, consuming alcohol or using profanity when acting as a volunteer.
  • Be discreet in your personal relationships with the athlete and avoid any behavior which may be misunderstood or misinterpreted.
  • Be helpful to and supportive of everyone associated with Special Olympics.

Demonstrate good sportsmanship:

  • Support the decisions of referees, judges and committees, and use proper dissent processes.
  • Be respectful during ceremonies and help your athletes be the same.
  • Praise the athletes for their efforts and encourage them to be happy for the success of other athletes.
  • Support and encourage other volunteers and staff.

Be continually vigilant and cognizant of the safety of the athlete:

  • Never leave an athlete unchaperoned.
  • Report anything you observe, either in the physical environment or in an individual’s behavior, which you feel may cause potential harm.

Be loyal to your commitment and to Special Olympics:

  • Look for constructive ways to overcome obstacles.

Take advantage of the opportunities Special Olympics offers you:

  • Be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.
  • Become an active participant by extending your involvement to other roles of leadership and training.
  • Delight in the change that your involvement makes in the life of someone you know and in the many lives of those you’ll never meet.

Volunteer Opportunities

Sports Training

  • Become a certified coach or an assistant coach.
  • Organize, coach or play on a Unified Sports® team.
  • Use specific sports expertise to help set up sports clinics or Special Olympics Texas training schools.
  • Train individuals with more severe handicaps through the Motor Activities Training Program.
  • Become a trainer and hold training schools to train coaches and individuals interested in SOTX competitions.

Competitions

  • Become a certified competition director or a certified games director.
  • Assist as a key volunteer.
  • Organize special events, such as Athlete Village and Opening Ceremonies for the athletes.
  • Act as a day-of-event volunteer in multiple capacities such as greeter, timer, stager, escort, statistics recorder, measurer, line judge, pit crew, ball runner, spotter and more.
  • Set up and support the event area for competition (e.g., marking lines, putting up tents and tables, filling water coolers, etc.).

Schools

  • Start Special Olympics Unified Sports® teams.
  • Begin Special Olympics Partners Clubs®.
  • Implement and organize Project UNIFY - Unified Champion Schools programs.
  • Recruit members of school sports teams to become certified Special Olympics coaches or officials.
  • Conduct Special Olympics sports competitions or demonstrations during regular sports events.

Fundraising

  • Support the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for SOTX through corporate sponsorship or through participation in local events.
  • Make financial or in-kind donations as individuals or through a business.
  • Conduct fund raising campaigns in schools or through a civic group, church or other organization.
  • Name Special Olympics as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, will or employee payroll deduction.
  • Make a donation, matching gift or memorial gift.
  • If you're a state or federal employee, look for us during the charitable campaign:
    • Combined Federal Campaign (CFC): 30634
    • State Employees Charitable Campaign (SECC): 100014

Professional

  • Provide medical support including free physicals and x-rays, pro bono legal or accounting services.
  • Become a clinical director for the Healthy Athletes program.
  • Make donations of goods, services or vital office supplies to local Special Olympics programs.

Public Relations

  • Provide strategic public relations assistance.
  • Assist with implementing public relations initiatives for the organization.
  • Assist with building media contacts statewide.
  • Write articles about Special Olympics Texas for the SOTX website and eNewsletters.
  • Volunteer photography, graphic design or web design services.

Administration

  • Serve on chapter board of directors, President's Advisory Council, chapter or area committees.
  • Help special education teachers or Special Olympics coaches prepare registration and medical forms.
  • Contribute general office help in SOTX offices (e.g., data entry, filing, answering phones, etc.).
  • Distribute materials for a Special Olympics event.

Civic Groups

  • Provide support for Special Olympics programs.
  • Organize Unified Sports® teams by combining group members with Special Olympics athletes.

Volunteer Eligibility

Special Olympics Texas makes the distinction between regular volunteers (Class A) and day-of-event volunteers (Class B). Each class has its own roles and responsibilities within SOTX.

Age Eligibility for Volunteers

  • For most Class A volunteers, the minimum age to volunteer is 15 years old.
  • The exceptions to this rule are head coaches, heads of delegation, bus drivers, key volunteers and chaperones, who all must be at least 18 years old to volunteer in these positions. Unified partners must be at least 8 years old for local competitions and 12 years old for state competitions.
  • Class A volunteers who volunteer for statewide competition must be at least 15 years old.
  • Class B volunteers have a different age breakdown:
    • 15 years old and older – can volunteer by themselves.
    • 8 - 14 years old – must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or chaperone.
    • 7 years old and younger – are not given volunteer assignments, but are welcomed and encouraged to be cheerleaders or spectators at competitions, accompanied by a parent/guardian. They must remain outside the competition area.
    • 8 - 14 years old in a group situation need a 4 to 1 ratio – meaning one adult (18 years old or older) for every four children. For example, if there was a group of 17 11-year-olds who wanted to volunteer for an event, five chaperones must accompany them.

Athletes as Volunteers

  • Special Olympics Texas athletes are welcomed and encouraged to volunteer in various roles within the organization, dependent on the individual’s interest and abilities.
  • All athletes wanting to volunteer must meet eligibility requirements, including age, training, paperwork, etc.
  • The only restriction for an athlete to volunteer is that at no time can the athlete volunteer be put or left in charge of the safety and welfare of other athletes or used in the ratio count for teams. As a result, the roles of head coach, head of delegation and chaperone are not available for athlete volunteers.
  • Refer to the Outreach Section for more details.

Special Olympics Volunteer Screening Policy in Texas

A person’s volunteer participation with Special Olympics Texas is an opportunity and privilege; it is not an entitlement. Special Olympics Texas has the right and responsibility to protect the well-being and safety of its participants: athletes, coaches, volunteers, staff and spectators.

Although Special Olympics cannot guarantee the safety of all participants, it recognizes its responsibility to take all reasonable steps to promote and ensure a safe environment for all. To that end, after considerable study and investigation, Special Olympics, Inc. (SOI) has developed and adopted a mandatory volunteer screening policy to set certain standards for each of the U.S. programs to follow with regard to both Class A and Class B volunteers.

Special Olympics Texas, in order to implement the U.S. Volunteer Screening Policy adopted by SOI, adopts the policy and procedures outlined in this section. 

Class A Volunteer Roles At-A-Glance

Volunteer Role Required Form Age Minimum Training Requirement OK for Athletes?
Administrative Volunteer Class A Form 18 years old
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
Yes
Coach

Class A Form

Minor Reference Form (for minors only)

15 years old
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors (Ages 18+, unless the individual is a current high school student)
Yes - just not counted in the ratio count
Minor coaches ages 15-17 shall not be placed in a position of authority, put in charge of athletes or be considered chaperones.
Bus Driver Class A Form 18 years old
  • Valid TX Driver License
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
No
Chaperone Class A Form 18 years old
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
No
Committee Member

Class A Form

Minor Reference Form (for minors only)

15 years old
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors (Ages 18+, unless the individual is a current high school student)
Yes
Fiscal Volunteer Class A Form 18 years old
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
No
Games/Competition Director Class A Form 18 years old
  • SOTX GD or CD Training
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
No
Head Coach Class A Form 18 years old
  • Must be a certified coach
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
No
Head of Delegation Class A Form 18 years old
  • Must be a certified coach
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
No
Medical Personnel Class A Form & Any License/Certifications 18 years old
  • Primary: any state licensed medical status (EMT, RN, MD, etc.) or supplemental: any certified medical status (CPR/FA, etc.)
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
No
Official (housed at Games) Class A Form & Any License/Certifications 18 years old
  • Varies by sport
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors (Ages 18+, unless the individual is a current high school student)
Yes
Professional Volunteer (legal, financial, PR, design, medical, etc.) Class A Form 18 years old
  • Varies by profession
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
Yes
Torch Run Officer (handling > $15,000) Class A Form 18 years old
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
No
Unified Partner

Class A Form & UP Form

Minor Reference Form (for minors only)

8 years old (12 years old for chapter)
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors  (Ages 18+, unless the individual is a current high school student)
No
Any volunteer who has access to personal information of SOTX athletes, volunteers and donors

Class A Form

 
  • General Orientation
  • Protective Behaviors
No

Class A Volunteers

  • Volunteers who have regular, close physical contact with athletes (e.g., coaches, chaperones, Unified Sports® partners, etc.).
  • Volunteers who are in a position of authority or supervision (real or apparent) (e.g., board members, committee members, officials, etc.).
  • Volunteers who are in a position of trust (e.g., competition key volunteers, etc.).
  • Volunteers who handle substantial amounts of cash ($15,000 or more annually) or other assets of the program (e.g., fund raising volunteers, certain Torch Run volunteers, Games Organizing Committee members, etc.).

To be considered for participation with Special Olympics Texas as a Class A volunteer, the applicant must submit a completed Class A Volunteer Application, complete General Orientation and Protective Behaviors trainings, and pass the criminal background check. Volunteering prior to completing all four steps is not permitted. The online Class A form can be found here. A printed copy can be found here.

The Special Olympics U.S. Risk Management and Insurance Task Force created online Protective Behaviors training material. The training material is a critical tool for protecting Special Olympics athletes from sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

All new Class A volunteer applicants ages 18 and older (unless they are a current high school student)  must complete this online training before they can become a Class A volunteer. The training must be completed at least once every three years.

Please visit: Protective Behaviors to complete the online training.

After completing the online training, volunteers will be asked to complete a 10 question quiz and submit their name and contact information.

Volunteers who do not have access to the internet may request a written version of the Protective Behaviors training. They will then complete a hard copy of the 10 question quiz and submit that document to the state office. Please contact the Director of Volunteer Services to receive the written version of the online training, or additional information regarding the Protective Behaviors training.

The decision of SOTX with regard to any Class A volunteer’s application rests within the sole and absolute discretion of SOTX. In exercising that discretion, SOTX shall be guided by its mission statement and the policy and procedure set forth herein.

All Class A volunteers shall be screened for participation in the Special Olympics program. Once screened and registered, Class A volunteers must re-register as a Class A volunteer every three years.

Application Process:

  • Each Class A volunteer shall:
    • Submit a Class A Volunteer Application,
    • Attend the General Orientation training as directed by SOTX whether in person or online,
    • Attend the SOI Protective Behavior Training (available online at www.specialolympics.org/protectivebehaviors) Volunteers 17 and younger are not required to complete Protective Behaviors, but upon turning 18 years old, they are required to complete this step unless they are a current high school student.
    • Complete a criminal background check through Verified Volunteers. Has your driver's license ever been suspended or revoked in any state or other jurisdiction?
    • Prospective volunteers who are under the age of 18 shall not be subject to a criminal background check but must submit the Class A Minor Reference Form in lieu of this step.

The Class A Volunteer Application and Protective Behaviors must be submitted every three years and the criminal background check every four years for the volunteer to remain active. The links to these steps are on the Special Olympics Texas website. www.sotx.org – Get Involved – Volunteer – Next Steps.)

IMPORTANT: After processing the required forms, quizzes, and criminal background check, the SOTX chapter office sends the applicant an email verification to keep for his/her own records. However, since SOTX does not recognize a person as a Class A volunteer unless he/she completes all of the steps, he/she CANNOT begin volunteering in any capacity until the volunteer confirmation email is received - no practices, no competitions, no volunteering.

Orientation:

  • All Class A volunteers shall attend the General Orientation training as directed by SOTX, whether in person or online.
  • All Class A volunteers shall attend the SOI Protective Behaviors training (find out more at www.specialolympics.org/protectivebehaviors) every three years. Volunteers 17 and younger are not required to complete Protective Behaviors; upon turning 18 years old, they are required to complete this step (unless they are a current high school student).

Unified Sports® Partners

A Unified Sports® partner is a hybrid of athlete and volunteer - a person without intellectual disabilities who competes in SOTX sports, but gives his/her time to train and compete as part of a Unified team. It is the “giving of time” that puts a Unified Sports® partner into the volunteer category, as well as safety and liability reasons.

    • All Unified Sports® partners must meet the following volunteer eligibility requirements:
      • Must have a current, signed Class A Volunteer Form on file (parent or guardian must sign if Unified Sports® partner is younger than 18 years of age). This form is good for three years, and then must be renewed.
      • Must have a current, signed Unified Sports® Partner Form on file (parent or guardian must sign if Unified Sports® partner is younger than 18 years of age.) This form is good for life, unless any insurance or contact information listed changes.
      • Must be at least 8 years old to compete at the area level and at least 12 years old to compete at the chapter level.
      • Must attend a Class A Volunteer General Orientation and Protective Behaviors training, as directed by SOTX, whether in person or online.
      • Must submit to a criminal background check by the approved SOTX vendor, Verified Volunteers, or if 17 years old or younger, submit a Minor Reference Form.
      • Refer to the Unified Sports® Section for more details.

Class A Application Authorization Requirements

  1. SOTX shall use the standard Class A Volunteer Application to obtain the required Special Olympics release.
  2. SOTX’s Class A Volunteer Application has been reviewed by legal counsel and is in compliance with all applicable state laws and regulations.
  3. SOTX shall train its staff on the automatic or potential disqualifiers as a result of the background checks.

Privacy Policy

SOTX recognizes that some of the information sought in the Class A Volunteer Application may be of a sensitive nature. This information is only required because of the responsibility that SOTX has to protect the well-being of all participants: athletes, coaches, volunteers, staff and spectators.

SOTX presently has a policy in place that directs all SOTX employees to maintain the confidentiality of all information obtained as part of the volunteer application process. Procedures are in place to keep all sensitive information confidential.

Should you have any questions concerning the volunteer application or this privacy policy, please contact the Director of Volunteer Services.

Results of Criminal Background Check

Note: Please refer to Appendix A for a comprehensive list of disqualifying offenses (automatic and restricted). All Appendices (A - E) are available online at www.sotx.org in the "Get Involved" Section.

  1. Automatic Disqualifier
    • If the criminal background check reveals a conviction for any of the offenses listed below, the volunteer applicant shall be disqualified automatically from participation as a volunteer with SOTX and will receive a certified letter as notification of his/her disqualification:
      • Conviction within applicant’s lifetime
        • Abandoning or Endangering a Child
        • Any Felony involving any Public Indecency Offense involving a Child
        • Any Felony involving a Weapon or Firearm
        • Any Felony involving Burglary or Robbery
        • Any Felony involving Manufacture or Sale of Narcotics
        • Agreement to Abduct from Custody
        • Arson and any related offenses
        • Aggravated Assault
        • Assault
        • Causing a Child's Death
        • Child Abuse
        • Criminal Sexual Conduct
        • Criminally Negligent Homicide
        • Deadly Conduct
        • Enticing a Child
        • Harassment or Stalking
        • Identity Theft
        • Improper Photography or Visual Recording
        • Indecency with a Child
        • Indecent Exposure
        • Injury to a Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual
        • Improper Relationship between Educator and Student
        • Kidnapping and any related offenses
        • Manslaughter
        • Murder and Capital Murder
        • Neglect of Child, Elderly Individual or Dependent Adult
        • Prostitution
        • Public Lewdness
        • Sale or Purchase of a Child or Advertising for Placement of a Child
        • Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault
        • Terroristic Threat
        • Trafficking of Persons
  2. DWI Restrictive Disqualifiers
    • If the criminal background check or motor vehicle record check discloses a conviction for a DWI, the volunteer applicant shall automatically be disqualified from driving on behalf of SOTX and will receive a certified letter as notification of this restriction:
      • 1st DWI - Seven year driving restriction for SOTX
      • 2nd DWI - Seven year driving restriction for SOTX from date of second offense
      • 3rd DWI (or more) - Permanent driving restriction for SOTX
  3. Traffic Violation Restrictive Disqualifiers
    • If the criminal background check or motor vehicle record check discloses convictions for three or more moving violations within the three years immediately preceding the record check, the volunteer applicant shall automatically be disqualified from driving on behalf of SOTX and will receive a certified letter as notification of this restriction.
  4. Other Restrictive Disqualifiers
    • If the criminal background check discloses a conviction, other than those on the Appendix A list, SOTX will reject the volunteer applicant or restrict his/her volunteer role based on the severity of the offense and the date of the offense.
  5. Deferred Adjudication
    • With regard to any criminal or traffic violation, the granting of a deferred adjudication, or any similar disposition under the laws of another state whereby a finding of guilt is withheld or otherwise stayed, shall be considered a “conviction” unless the violation is officially dismissed. If the violation is not dismissed, at the time that the Class A Volunteer Form is submitted and reviewed, it shall be the applicant's responsibility to appeal to SOTX to be reconsidered as a volunteer when the applicant's probationary period has ended and the violation is legally dismissed.
    • If the applicant has more than one criminal or traffic violation granted deferred adjudication, SOTX reserves the right to disqualify the applicant from volunteering.

Appeal Process

The rejected volunteer applicant shall have the right to appeal SOTX’s decision in two specific instances:

  1. To declare that the criminal background check is in error and the applicant is not the person with the conviction or
  2. To admit that the conviction information is correct, but there were extenuating circumstances behind the crime.

In case of an erroneous background check, the applicant should contact Verified Volunteers (the Director of Volunteer Services can supply the contact information) and coordinate with them in correcting the error in the report. After Verified Volunteers has corrected their records, the applicant will be reviewed again for SOTX to determine his/her eligibility as a volunteer. Note: Please refer to Appendix E for Verified Volunteers’ contact information and error process.

In case of extenuating circumstances, the applicant has the right to appeal the rejection of his/her volunteer application under this paragraph by written request and explanation to the Director of Volunteer Services, within 30 days of the program's notification to the volunteer applicant (date of letter).

Upon receipt of the appeal request, the Director of Volunteer Services shall verify that the applicant was truthful on the Class A Volunteer Application regarding the four SOI Volunteer Qualifier Questions:

  1. Do you use illegal drugs?
  2. Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense?
  3. Have you ever been charged with neglect, abuse, or assault?
  4. Has your driver license ever been suspended or revoked in any state?

If the applicant was truthful on the application and disclosed the conviction(s), the Director of Volunteer Services will confer with the Vice President of Shared Services as well as the SOTX legal counsel, as needed, regarding the applicant’s appeal request and explanation to weigh the applicant’s overall appropriateness to be a volunteer for the program.

If the applicant was not truthful on the application and did not disclose the conviction(s), the appeal will immediately be denied regardless of the circumstances.

In either case, the program’s decision not to accept a volunteer applicant is binding until the final decision is made regarding the applicant and his/her appeal, meaning no volunteering is allowed while the appeal is pending. SOTX shall have the right and the authority to make the final decision as to the acceptance of any volunteer applicant under this section.

All appendices (A-E) are available online at www.sotx.org.

Class B Volunteers

  • Volunteers who only have limited contact with athletes or who have contact with athletes accompanied by coaches and chaperones (e.g., day of event volunteers, Torch Run volunteers raising less than $15,000 annually, Healthy Athletes volunteers, officials not housed at Games, etc.).

To be considered for participation with SOTX as a Class B volunteer, the applicant must submit a completed and truthful Class B Registration Form to SOTX before taking on any volunteer responsibilities. An applicant is only considered a registered SOTX volunteer after submitting a Class B Registration Form and passing the photo identification check, not prior to those steps.

As with Class A volunteers, the decision of SOTX with regard to any Class B volunteer’s acceptance rests within the sole and absolute discretion of SOTX. In exercising that discretion, SOTX shall be guided by its mission statement and the policy and procedure set forth herein.

  1. Application Process: All Class B volunteers shall be screened for participation in the Special Olympics program as follows: Class B volunteers shall apply for participation by submitting a Day of Event Volunteer Registration Form at or before each event.
  2. Orientation: All volunteers shall attend a Class B volunteer orientation program as directed by SOTX.
  3. Day of Event: On the day of each event, the registered volunteer shall report to a designated volunteer coordinator for that event and verify his/her identification via a photo identification.

Annual Chapter Awards

Every year, Special Olympics Texas holds an awards ceremony to recognize and demonstrate its appreciation to the volunteers, athletes, families and businesses that make the Special Olympics experience possible for our athletes.

There are seven separate forms; please use the appropriate form for the category. If you wish to submit a nomination for any of the following awards, please fill out the Area/Chapter Awards Nomination Form at the end of this section. Individuals may be nominated in one category only.

Please send all signed, completed nominations to your area director for approval, postmarked no later than June 1. No late nomination forms will be accepted.

Volunteer of the Year

This award was established in 1980 to be given annually to the volunteer who best displays year-round spirit, dedication, and unselfish efforts on behalf of Special Olympics Texas and its athletes.

Each nomination will be weighed based on the following criteria:

  • The nominee must be currently registered as a SOTX Class A volunteer.
  • The nominee must display excellence in all levels of involvement.
  • The nominee must have been involved with SOTX for at least five years.
  • The nominee must be a positive role model for the athletes and other volunteers.


Award Winners

  • 2008 - Jr. Urioste, Wichita Falls
  • 2009 - Jim Domer, Lewisville
  • 2010 - Donald Calhoun, Bryan
  • 2011 - Dr. Margaret Woody, Waco
  • 2012 - Amy Ramey, San Antonio
  • 2013 - Ricardo Escamilla, Sr., Corpus Christi
  • 2014 - Martha Bishop, Dallas
  • 2015 - Rick Kohn, Greenville
  • 2016 - Renae Carswell, Lewisville
  • 2017 - Keith Maxwell, Belton

Male Athletes of the Year: 15 - 21 and 22 and older

These awards acknowledge the male athletes who embody the spirit of the Special Olympics movement – on and off the field.

Starting in 2002, this award was split into two age categories: 15 - 21 and 22 and older.

The Male Athlete of the Year should be at least 15 years of age and have been involved with Special Olympics at least five years. Athlete nominations should be weighed based on the following criteria: number of sports in which the athlete competes; area and chapter level participation; good sportsmanship; leadership among other athletes; service in the ALPs; participation outside of SOTX such as school, work or community organization.

Award Winners

  • 2008 - Derek Schottle, Sugar Land (15 - 21) and Wilburn Buffalo, Spring (22 and older)
  • 2009 - Pedro Munoz, Los Fresnos (15 - 21) and Roel Martinez, Edinburg (22 and older)
  • 2010 - Adam Cashion, Boerne (15 - 21) and Joshua Burton, LaPorte (22 and older)
  • 2011 - Brandon LeMaster, El Paso (15 - 21) and Paul Holland, Shady Shores (22 and older)
  • 2012 - Brennan O'Donnell, Round Rock (15 - 21) and Lyndon LaPlante, Keller (22 and older)
  • 2013 - Christian Cisneros, Spring (15 - 21) and Ronnie Farrell, Manchaca (22 and older)
  • 2014 - Charles Pelz, Missouri City (15-21) and Jonathan Blackmon, Flower Mound (21 and older)
  • 2015 - Riley Blatz, Round Rock (15 - 21) and Scott Wendt, Rockwall (21 and older)
  • 2016 - Brendan West, Pasadena (15-21) and Kyle Eddlemon, Missouri City (22 and older)
  • 2017 - Jarred Duran, Celina (15 - 21) and Augustin Serna, Laredo (22 and older)

Female Athletes of the Year: 15 - 21 and 22 and older

These awards honor the female athletes who represent the energy of the Special Olympics movement – on and off the field. Starting in 2002, this award was split into two age categories: 15 - 21 and 22 and older.

The Female Athlete of the Year should be at least 15 years of age and have been involved with Special Olympics at least five years. Athlete nominations should be weighed based on the following criteria: number of sports in which the athlete competes; area and chapter level participation; good sportsmanship; leadership among other athletes; service in the ALPs including service as a representative of SOTX; participation outside of SOTX such as school, work or community organization.

Award Winners

  • 2008 - Vanessa Parra, San Antonio (15 - 21) and Lisa Lepley, Houston (22 and older)
  • 2009 - Robyn Pazderny, Richmond (15 - 21) and Kristen Medley, San Antonio (22 and older)
  • 2010 - Seneca Cantu, Converse (15 - 21) and Christine Jasso, El Paso (22 and older)
  • 2011 - Audrey Alvarez, Graham (15 - 21) and Brett Mohammadi, San Antonio (22 and older)
  • 2012 - Dalia Martinez, San Antonio (15 - 21) and Leanne Owens, Dallas (22 and older)
  • 2013 - Rebecca Carkhuff, Spring (15 - 21) and Stacey Johnson, Allen (22 and older)
  • 2014 - Stephanie Rico, Laredo (15-21) and Schelly Porter, Commerce (22 and older)
  • 2015 - Kayla Gray, Friendswood (15 - 21) and Kathryn Albertini, Southlake (22 and older)
  • 2016 - Kylie Tyson, Canyon (15-21) and Julia Kilgore, Wichita Falls (22 and older)
  • 2017 - Caitlin Ripley, Houston (15-21) and Laura Mashuca, Laredo (22 and older)

Coach of the Year

This award recognizes the coach who best demonstrates a positive influence on his/her athletes, while helping them to succeed in competition as well as in life.

Each nomination will be weighed based on the following criteria:

  • The nominee must be a SOTX certified coach.
  • The nominee must be a currently registered SOTX Class A volunteer.
  • The nominee constantly works to expand his/her knowledge of the sport.
  • The nominee must have been involved with SOTX for at least five years.
  • The nominee must be a positive role model for athletes and families.

Award Winners

  • 2008 - Judy Seitz, San Antonio
  • 2009 - Edward Waring, San Antonio
  • 2010 - Terrence Baugh, Arlington
  • 2011 - Barbara Montalvo, Edcouch
  • 2012 - J'Nette Thorne, Amarillo
  • 2013 - Pamela Fowler, Grand Prairie
  • 2014 - Patrick Noonan, Addison
  • 2015 - Rose Antony, Rockwall
  • 2016 - Clara Edwards, Monahans
  • 2017 - Olga Guierrez, Laredo

Trainer of the Year

This award was created for the person who is committed to training and making every effort to encourage others to train or coach at the highest level. Each nomination will also be weighed based on the following criteria:

  • The nominee designs and implements a minimum of two trainings at the state and/or area level that follow the mission and philosophy of Special Olympics Texas and Special Olympics, Inc.
  • The nominee encourages growth and change within the organization.
  • The nominee has been a training director or manager for at least two years.
  • The nominee is a current SOTX Class A volunteer.
  • The nominee has been actively involved with training at the area level.
  • The nominee completes Special Olympics Texas training certification requirements including: a Train the Trainer Course, applicable practicum hours and the annual training re-certification.
  • The nominee upholds the spirit of sportsmanship and love of participation.

Award Winners

  • 2007 - Karen Jones, Conroe
  • 2008 - Nancy Manley, Round Rock
  • 2009 - Leslie Low, Flower Mound
  • 2010 - Debra Blackwood, San Antonio
  • 2011 - Maelynne Pease, San Antonio
  • 2012 - Shirley Johnson, San Antonio
  • 2013 - Diana Garza, Corpus Christi
  • 2014 - Lisabeth Lassiter, Allen
  • 2015 - Sally Stacy, Graham
  • 2016 - Laurie Martin, Saint Jo
  • 2017 - J'Nette Thorne, Amarillo

Outstanding Volunteer for Sports and Competition

For voluntary service that improves the quality of Special Olympics sports and competitions.

Each nomination will also be weighed based on the following criteria:

  • The nominee must be currently registered as a SOTX Class A volunteer.
  • The nominee must have been involved with SOTX for at least two years.
  • The nominee has been a certified competition or games director.

Award Winners

  • 2008 - Bill and Evelyn Merrill, Universal City
  • 2009 - David Kight, Willis
  • 2010 - Larry Lobue, Missouri City
  • 2011 - Cindy Benzon, Spring
  • 2012 - Sherri Mell, San Antonio
  • 2013 - Julia Scott, Carrollton
  • 2014 - Stephen Pittenger, Houston
  • 2015 - Teresa Sullivan, San Antonio
  • 2016 -
  • 2017 - George Ann Benson, Lubbock

Outstanding Service from a Business/Corporation

For year-round service (in the form of volunteer support, for example) or financial backing (including in-kind donations) from a business.

Award Winners

  • 2007 - City of Richardson
  • 2008 - H-E-B, Houston
  • 2009 - Walmart
  • 2010 - GEO Group, San Antonio
  • 2011 - Bell Helicopter Textron, Fort Worth
  • 2012 - Southwest Dairy Farmers, Sulphur Springs
  • 2013 - Sysco Central Texas, Inc., New Braunfels
  • 2014 - Broadway Bank, San Antonio
  • 2015 - Coca-Cola Refreshments of Houston
  • 2016 - FC Dallas, Frisco
  • 2017 - Embassy Suites Houston Downtown, Houston

Family of the Year

For the family of a Special Olympics Texas athlete that has made and continues to make a unique and lasting contribution to the lives of Special Olympics athletes. Each nomination must be accompanied by a complete list of all immediate family members.

Award Winners

  • 2008 - The Bannister Family, North Richland Hills
  • 2009 - The Baxter Family, Pasadena
  • 2010 - The Ford Family, Canyon
  • 2011 - The Calhoun-Erdman Family, Bryan
  • 2012 - The Bethea Family, Corpus Christi
  • 2013 - The Igo Family, Plano
  • 2014 - The Marshall Family, Sugar Land
  • 2015 - The Gresham Family, Sherman
  • 2016 - The Mehnert Family, Carrollton
  • 2017 - The Salazar Family, Robstown

Outstanding Volunteer for Fundraising

For voluntary service in implementing fund raising opportunities at the local, area or chapter level.

Each nominee will also be weighed based on the following criteria:

  • The nominee must be currently registered as a SOTX Class A volunteer.
  • The nominee must have been involved with SOTX for at least two years.

Award Winners

  • 2008 - Glenn Schaaf, Houston
  • 2009 - Kathy Ashwin, San Antonio
  • 2011 - Marilyn Senneway, New Braunfels
  • 2012 - Hector Amaya, Houston
  • 2013 - Teresa Ramsey, Graham
  • 2014 - Doug Sisk, Duncanville
  • 2015 - Corpus Christi Police Department, Corpus Christi
  • 2016 - Jason James, Bryan
  • 2017 - Chief Doug Reim, Highland Village

Outstanding Service for Outreach

For the people, group or organization whose volunteer service has expanded the opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to become involved in the Special Olympics Texas program.

Each nomination will also be weighed based on the following criteria:

  • The nominee must be currently registered as a SOTX Class A volunteer.
  • The nominee must have been involved with SOTX for at least two years.

Award Winners

  • 2008 - Everett and Sarah Castellano, McAllen
  • 2009 - Shirley Johnson, San Antonio
  • 2010 - Mary Jane Carvell, New Caney
  • 2011 - Timothy Taggart, San Antonio
  • 2012 - Abigail Wylie, Katy
  • 2013 - Spencer Mackenzie, Denton
  • 2014 - Lucy Gutierrez, Laredo
  • 2015 - Signa Segrest, Houston
  • 2016 - Gwenda Taggart, San Antonio
  • 2017 - Cypress Champions, Cypress

Outstanding Service from a Community Leader

For the professional athlete, celebrity, or civic leader who has demonstrated devotion to individuals with intellectual disabilities and concern for improving their skills through Special Olympics.

Award Winners

  • 2008 - Joe Villarreal, San Antonio
  • 2009 - Carl Robinson, El Paso
  • 2010 - Chad Hedrick, Spring
  • 2011 - Judge Danny Valdez, Laredo
  • 2012 - Roberto Santos, Laredo
  • 2013 - Arnold Sosa, Corpus Christi
  • 2014 - Joe Villarreal, San Antonio
  • 2015 - David Gonzalez, Laredo
  • 2016 - Greg Simmons, San Antonio
  • 2017 - Terri Fuman, Lubbock

Outstanding Service from a Civic or Service Organization

For year-round community service and/or monetary support from an agency, civic group or service organization.

Each nomination will also be weighed based on the following criteria:

  • The nominee must have been involved with SOTX for at least five years.

Award Winners

  • 2008 - Educational Service Center 2, Corpus Christi
  • 2009 - Midland Freshman High School, Midland
  • 2010 - Xceed Resources, El Paso
  • 2011 - The Kinkaid School - Class of 2012, Houston
  • 2012 - Alhambra, El Paso
  • 2013 - Balcones Country Club Tennis Group, Austin
  • 2014 - Texas A&M International University, Laredo
  • 2015 - UTSA: Alpha Sigma Alpha - Delta Upsilon Chapter, San Antonio
  • 2016 - Houston Bar Association, Special Olympics Committee, Houston
  • 2017 - Knights of Columbus Council 12803, Lubbock

Unified Sports® Partner of the Year

The Unified Sports® Partner of the Year Award is dedicated to the individual who embodies the philosophy of Unified Sports®. By dedicating themselves to the integration of athletes in the community, promoting skill development, and fostering self-esteem among athletes on their Unified Sports® team.

Each nomination will also be weighed based on the following criteria:

  • The nominee must be currently registered as a SOTX Class A volunteer and Unified Sports® partner.
  • The nominee must actively participate on a Unified team as a partner.
  • The nominee must have been involved with SOTX for at least two years.
  • The nominee must be a positive role model for the athletes and other Unified Sports® partners.

Award Winner

  • 2008 - Virgie Shinn, El Paso
  • 2009 - Sean Lucas, Austin
  • 2010 - Eugene Calabro, El Paso
  • 2011 - Justin King, Round Rock
  • 2012 - Gary Schwartz, Corpus Christi
  • 2013 - Kimberly Taggart, San Antonio
  • 2014 - Austin Combs, Deer Park
  • 2015- Melinda Escamilla, Corpus Christi
  • 2016 - Jim Bomer, Lewisville
  • 2017 - Timmothy Brown, Abilene