|Dennis Gaines (left) and Jonathan Lynn
were named 2012 SOKY Coach and
Athlete of the Year.
Jonathan Lynn of Murray/Calloway County Special Olympics and Dennis Gaines of Fayette County Special Olympics have been named the 2012 Special Olympics Kentucky Athlete and Coach of the Year, respectively. The presentation was made on Dec. 1 at the Saturday night Victory Dance during the 2012 State Bowling Tournament in Louisville.
Lynn, 18, has been a Special Olympics athlete for six years, competing in track and field, Bowling and golf. He was previously named Murray Calloway County's Most Dedicated Athlete (2008-09) and their Most Improved Track and Field Athlete (2009-10). He was one of the first athletes to sign up with the Murray/Calloway County group when it formed in 2006.
In Lynn's nomination letter, coach Laura Miller said, "Jon demonstrates all that is Special Olympics. He knows the oath and he lives the oath. Not only does Jon participate in various sports, he never misses a practice. He's never even been late to a practice. Jon is the first to congratulate a competitor on a job well done. If Jon does well in a competition, he is proud of himself and if Jon does poorly in a competition he is still proud that he was able to play and practices even harder for the next one. As a coach, I have never had to give Jon a pep talk. As a teacher, I have always seen Jon inspire those around him by trying his best, especially when tasks get difficult.
"Special Olympics is providing Jon with an opportunity to be an athlete; and because of Special Olympics, Jon is showing his school and his community all that Special Olympics athletes are and what they can give and teach their communities."
Lynn is a senior at Murray High School.
Gaines has been a coach with the Fayette County Special Olympics program for four years, coaching basketball, flag football, softball and golf. In addition to coaching, he is the Fayette County coordinator for golf and flag football and serves as a Global Messenger mentor. Still, coaching is just one part of the time he gives to Special Olympics. He is a regular at Special Olympics Kentucky fundraisers, like the Polar Plunge, Big Brown Truck Pull and Ride to Win, helping in any capacity needed.
In the nomination letter he wrote for Gaines, Special Olympics Kentucky athlete Andrew Gomez said, "Coach Dennis is a very special man. He is truly an angel from God. There are not many people that understand me or special needs kids. Coach Dennis never once would yell during practice or games. He understood if I had to leave practice early for my medicine time or needing to get to bed so I would have a great day at school. We had a great season and I have tons of great memories. Coach Dennis is not just a coach, he is my dearest friend! These are all great qualities for someone that should get Coach of the Year, or of a Lifetime!"
Gaines' work with Special Olympics has also been recognized by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, which he will soon be retiring from. He was recognized by Toyota for 2011 in their Volunteers in Place program, which highlights team members who contribute significant time to charitable organizations.
Congratulations to both Jonathan Lynn and Dennis Gaines on their much deserved awards.
If you have questions about the nominating process or about the Coach of the Year Award, please contact Volunteer Services Director Justin Harville at 502-695-8222 or email@example.com.