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2019 LETR John Michael Letz Award

Mark Priebe

The John Michael Letz Award is the highest honor given within the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Missouri. It is our unsung hero award. The first recipient of this award was Ralph Biele who was instrumental in starting Missouri’s Torch Run more than 30 years ago.

Previous recipients:

  • Ralph Biele
  • Rich Banahan
  • John Cira
  • Mary Branstetter
  • Randy Boehm
  • David Pudlowski
  • Janelle Waterman
  • Graham Burnley
  • Jim Moran
  • Jim McCart
  • Zim Schwartze
  • Tim Goebel
  • Randy Werner
  • Rick Hayes
  • Don Spears
  • Jim McNiell
  • Joseph Chapman
  • Jeff Cook
  • Mark Koeller
  • Mark Wieseman
  • Jeff Fugett
  • Steve Davis
  • Amanda Geno
  • Mary Wheeler
  • Lynn McClamroch

The criteria for recipients include being responsible for significant fundraising results and participating in year-round support; exemplifying the Special Olympics mission and being a visionary for the Torch Run. The winner of this award is someone whose source of motivation comes from helping the athletes and who shows sustained commitment over a period of time.

We have many who are Torch Run enthusiasts; most we don’t know. We don’t know them because they don’t do the work for the recognition – and that’s why they are deserving of the Letz Award. They are usually in the background working to do more.

About this year’s recipient:

  • Involved in the Torch Run for 13 years
  • Is involved in fundraising in both local and statewide fundraising events
  • Since becoming the agency coordinator for their department in 2009, the agency has raised $173,915
  • Has volunteered to hand out medals at both local and state events
  • Serves on the local Polar Plunge committee and has been instrumental in growing this event to where it is today
  • Attends the International LETR Conference whenever possible and brings back new ideas to implement at their agency
  • Serves on the LETR committee as the assistant region coordinator for their region
  • Serves on the “Crew” at all state events – doing whatever is needed to ensure everything goes well for the athletes
  • Has shared their passion for SOMO with their family – including their son who volunteers and serves as a Unified Partner for the local team in their city
  • In the words of his nominator “This nominee generously gives his time and takes great pride in the events he organizes, and has a strong dedication to the mission of SOMO.”
  • This nominee recently stepped out of his comfort zone and represented MO in the Final Leg for the World Summer Games