SOTX Announces 2014 Volunteer Award Winners

All recipients will be honored with an awards ceremony on Oct. 17 at Fall Classic.



August 25, 2014


Steve Helm – Public Relations Coordinator, Special Olympics Texas

800.876.5646, ext. 2925 (office); 267.421.3911 (cell – media only);



AUSTIN – Special Olympics Texas has officially announced the recipients of its 2014 Volunteer Awards. The 15 winners were selected from 143 nominations sent in. Among the honorees, the Greater Dallas Area (Area 10) led the state with six winners, headlined by Martha Bishop, who was named the SOTX Volunteer of the Year. A complete list of the 2014 Volunteer Awards can be found below.


An awards ceremony will be held on Friday, Oct. 17 during the Fall Classic competition to recognize and demonstrate appreciation to the volunteers, athletes, families and businesses that make the Special Olympics experience possible for more than 51,000 athletes in the state of Texas.


·         Outstanding Service from a Business/Corporation – Broadway Bank (San Antonio, Texas), Area 20

·         Outstanding Service from a Civic or Service Organization – Texas A&M International University (Laredo, Texas), Area 21

·         Coach of the Year – Patrick Noonan (Addison, Texas), Area 10

·         Outstanding Service from a Community Leader – Joe Villarreal (San Antonio, Texas), Area 20

·         Family of the Year – The Marshall Family (Sugar Land, Texas), Area 22

·         Female Athlete of the Year: 15-21 – Stephanie Rico (Laredo, Texas), Area 21

·         Female Athlete of the Year: 22+ - Schelly Porter (Commerce, Texas), Area 10

·         Outstanding Volunteer for Fund Raising – Doug Sisk (Duncanville, Texas), Area 10

·         Male Athlete of the Year: 15-21 – Charles Pelz (Missouri City, Texas), Area 22

·         Male Athlete of the Year: 22+ - Jonathan Blackmon (Flower Mound, Texas) Area 10

·         Outstanding Service for Outreach – Lucy Gutierrez (Laredo, Texas), Area 21

·         Outstanding Volunteer for Sports and Competition – Stephen Pittenger (Houston, Texas) Area 4

·         Trainer of the Year – Lisabeth Lassiter (Allen, Texas), Area 10

·         Unified Sports Partner of the Year – Austin Combs (Deer Park, Texas), Area 4

·         Volunteer of the Year – Martha Bishop (Dallas, Texas), Area 10



Since 2003,  Broadway Bank has helped inspire greatness and has exemplified a level of commitment to SOTX that can serve as a model for others. For over a decade, Broadway Bank has generously committed themselves to be a Bronze sponsor for the San Antonio area’s Spring Games and has been a proud sponsor of World Games. The company also provides support for the athletes by going out of its way to offer volunteers at area competitions.


 TAMIU, an SOTX supporter since 1997, earns its second Outstanding Service from a Civic-Service Organization award (2012) from the organization. Over the last 17 years, the University has provided numerous volunteers and fundraising support for SOTX in the Laredo Area. TAMIU professors encourage students to give back to the athletes in the community by embracing their talents and showing support through volunteer hours.


 Noonan, one of the founders of the Carrollton/Farmers Branch Cyclones in 1990, has been involved with SOTX since 1980. Having certification in athletics, basketball, bocce, flag football and Unified Sport, he oversees all of the Cyclones’ basketball teams and has been a Unified partner for flag football. Noonan has been instrumental in forming and continuing to keep the Cyclones team going. He was recognized for his abilities in 1998 by receiving the Parks & Recreation Service Award and in 2002 by receiving the Jimmy Porter Award from the City of Carrollton, the highest award given for contribution to sports by the Parks & Recreation.


A supporter of SOTX since 1982,  Villarreal has gone above and beyond to serve his community as a deputy with Bexar County’s Sherriff Office. His enthusiasm and dedication for supporting those with intellectual disabilities is apparent in the strides he makes to build every fundraiser and Law Enforcement Torch Run through South Texas. Villarreal raises awareness through his participation in National Games, international conferences and through his role on the LETR Board of Directors and as South Region Director of LETR. He has volunteered countless hours while demonstrating leadership, making him a vital component to the success of SOTX in the San Antonio area.


For the last 15 years, the  Marshall family has demonstrated a tremendous volunteer ethic for SOTX. They pitch in to do what is needed without seeking glory or gain. When the Arc of Fort Bend delegation faced growing pains five years ago, the Marshalls came forward and asked what they could do to help fix some of the problems. They set a tone of family fun for everyone.



Desi Marshall (Mother) has a long history of Special Olympics involvement from heading the booster club for FBISD to being a supportive advocate for improvements within the delegation.


Hal Marshall (Father) is a dedicated basketball coach, who actually asked for a particular athlete with challenging behaviors to be on his team. At the last Area tournament, rather than call in injured, he coached all day on his feet, while in pain from a back injury.


Mike Marshall (Son) is an SOTX athlete. He participates in golf, softball and basketball.


Matt Marshall (Son) coaches basketball and is a wonderful male role model for our young adult athletes.

This season, Matt's wife was in a serious, life-changing car accident. Matt continued to coach with his dad, even while working full time and helping his wife with her several months of rehabilitation.


Haley (Daughter) is a high school senior, who has "dibs" every year on creating the music video for the area’s annual Special Olympics banquet, attended by 200 people. She collects photos of all sports and teams within the delegation, edits them and puts it all to music. She takes great pains to make sure all athletes have their time on-screen.


Chuck Atwood (Grandfather; Desi’s father) has been an integral part of the Marshall family's Special Olympics involvement since Mike was a young boy. Because he is retired, he can always be counted on for providing that necessary male chaperone ratio requirement, even from the days in the early 2000s when Mike first started traveling to Chapter games. Chuck supervises any athlete that he asked to with a smile.


 Rico, of Laredo ISD, has shown incredible development through her participation in SOTX since 2003. She has more importantly been able to transfer her growth to all other aspects of her life. Rico is not only self-confident and self-assured in athletics, but also in her academic classes. She is flourishing in extracurricular activities, communicates more freely and is unafraid to ask things of others.


Since 1990,  Porter has participated in almost every sport she has had access to including: athletics, aquatics, tennis, basketball, volleyball and softball. As she became older and more involved with community-based activities, Porter selected to actively participate in her three favorite sports: bocce, golf and bowling. She attends Area games for all three sports and participates in both Fall Classic and Winter Games and has also competed at National and World Games in Bowling. Porter always demonstrates good sportsmanship and actively initiates opportunities for her to lead and be a good role model. She loves to encourage her teammates and competitors, she enthusiastically engages with volunteers and she leads by example demonstrating that she is capable of whatever she puts her mind to. Porter is an active member of the Athlete Leadership Program (ALPS) as a Global Messenger. She loves to share her stories with others at work, at Church, in the community, at the local university, and every year in a local fund-raising talent show to raise money and build awareness about Special Olympics.


Sisk, the North Texas Coordinator for Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) has been a volunteer for SOTX since 1988. He has spent countless hours not only volunteering for SOTX in the Greater Dallas area, but has taken on the lead role in supporting all of the North Texas fundraising efforts for LETR. In 2012, he was tabbed with the SOTX Community Leader of the Year Award. Each and every event that Sisk leads exceeds expectations and routinely exceeds revenue goals. For 2014 to date, he has contributed at least $25,000. Sisk’s enthusiasm cannot be measured and is an asset when securing sponsorships, media coverage and influential contacts for the SOTX organization.


 Pelz, a participant in softball, bocce, volleyball, bowling, basketball and track, has been involved with SOTX since 2004 and has matured in many ways. A member of the Fort Bend Falcons, Pelz is a first-class leader on the field and in the classroom. He is consistently the first to arrive at practice, the first one to support a fellow athlete having a difficult time, the first one to cheer on a teammate and the first one to volunteer.


 Blackmon currently competes in track & field, bocce and golf. Over the course of his 22-year involvement with SOTX, he has competed in several area, state, National and World Games and has served as a Torch Run bearer at state and World Games. Blackmon not only competes in athletic events, but is a Global Messenger, a Class A Volunteer, an athlete representative on the area’s LETR committee and a member of ALPS. He is regarded as a great ambassador for SOTX with his constant promotion for the organization at every event he attends.


 Gutierrez has been involved with SOTX since 1979 and wears many hats for the organization in the Laredo area. She currently serves as a Head of Delegation, Games Committee member, ASMT member, Clinician, ALPS coach, Global Messenger coach and Meet in the Middle sponsor. Gutierrez, the 2013 SOTX Volunteer of the Year, promotes the organization with enthusiasm and is always ready to take on any challenge for someone needing guidance to start a team. As Lead Teacher for United ISD Cherish Center, she is able to promote Special Olympics to special needs students from four high schools in the community by providing education and training to parents and special needs students so that they have the opportunity to live more independent, successful and fulfilling lives.


Pittenger has been an SOTX volunteer for more than 25 years, starting as a student volunteer while at Texas A&M and continuing his support when he graduated and moved to Houston. Since 1989, he has served in various capacities during his time with the organization. Pittenger was the first competition director for Fall Classic in College Station and when he came to Houston, he volunteered for aquatics, bowling and has run the area’s Spring Games since 1996 to the present. In addition to his Veterinarian career and his parental duties, he always finds time for SOTX.


 Lassiter claims her second-straight SOTX Trainer of the Year Award in her 18th year with SOTX. She was a trainer and training manager from 2004-2006 before moving to Tucson from 2006-2009. Since returning, she resumed her position as Training Manager in 2011 and has coordinated with the Area I 0 Program Associate in getting its Training Program back on track. Lassiter’s duties include coordinating schedules, communicating with the trainers and overseeing the higher trainings as needed. She also has been a valuable assistant with the Area Bocce Tournament and with coordinating teams for area and state basketball classifications.


 Combs began volunteering for SOTX in 2010 as a way to support his uncle, who is an SOTX athlete.  Whenever he has been around, he has always displayed empathy, sensitivity and total acceptance towards the athletes. In 2011, Combs asked to play Unified Sports and started playing with the Deer Park Fireballs. Starting with tennis, he was led to softball where he was part of the move with the Fireballs’ move from a traditional softball team to one of Unified Play. Earlier this year, Combs participated on Team Texas’ Unified Softball team in New Jersey, where the team brought home the Bronze medal. Normally, high school students are focused on their sports and friends not always looking to give back or to be a part of something bigger than themselves, but Combs is driven to go above and beyond. He makes time to be a part of Special Olympics not because he has to or because his uncle wants him to, but because he wants to participate with his friends and fellow athletes.


 Bishop, a Class A Volunteer since 1997, is considered the glue that holds the Richardson Roadrunners delegation together. She got involved with SOTX through her son, Adam, who is an SOTX athlete. After seeing him excel, she wanted other athletes and families to have the Special Olympics experience that her and her son were getting.  During her time as a volunteer, she has not shied away from any duty in need. Among the many responsibilities Bishop has taken on, she coaches, assists with transportation and care of uniforms and serves as the SOTX co-chair on the Richardson Corporate Challenge Committee.



About Special Olympics Texas
Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) is a privately funded non-profit organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect.  SOTX provides continuing opportunities for more than 51,300 children and adults with intellectual disabilities throughout the Lone Star State to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship.  To learn more, visit or call 800.876.5646.  Engage with us on: Twitter @SOTexas;;



Coca-Cola Refreshments, Food Town, H-E-B Tournament of Champions,

Law Enforcement Torch Run and Walmart

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About Special Olympics Texas
Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) is a privately funded non-profit organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect.  SOTX provides continuing opportunities for more than 58,800 children and adults with intellectual disabilities throughout the Lone Star State to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship.  To learn more, visit or call 800.876.5646.  Engage with us on: Twitter @SOTexas;;