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RELEASE: SOMO to induct 2023 Hall of Fame Class and recognize annual award winners at 2023 Awards Banquets

SOMO Hall Of Fame Class Of 2023 Square GFX

JEFFERSON CITY – Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) will induct its 2023 Hall of Fame Class and honor several of its most outstanding athletes, coaches, volunteers and financial partners at the 2023 Awards Banquet on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023 at the Training for Life Campus.

Special Olympics USA standout Charlie Phillips and Joe Peart with Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop I will emcee the program, which will begin at 12:15 p.m. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. Along with awards, SOMO is excited to have a performance from the Gillam Family Illusions during the program.

This year’s 2023 Hall of Fame Class is made up of four outstanding individuals. SOMO surprised all four of them with the news earlier this year.

The SOMO Hall of Fame was created in 1997 by the Board of Directors as a way to recognize longevity and achievement of athletes and volunteers within the organization. A voting committee, appointed by the SOMO Chairperson of the Board, is responsible for reviewing all nominations and voting on no more than two inductees in each category (athlete and volunteer).

To be inducted, finalists must be named on 75% of the ballots. A permanent video display, housed in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield, features photos and bios of each year’s SOMO Hall of Fame inductees.

SOMO will also announce its annual statewide award winners at the Awards Banquet in the following categories: Outstanding Family of the Year, Outstanding Coach of the Year, Outstanding Volunteer of the Year and Outstanding Athlete of the Year. The area winners were selected in August, and these area winners are now the nominees for the statewide awards. This year, Special Olympics Kansas voted to determine the statewide winners. The winners will be announced on Saturday.

Outstanding Family Nominees

  • Central Area Winner: Petterson Family
  • Southwest Area Winner: Priebe Family
  • North Area Winner: Kathy, Mark Freeman and Mike Grossman
  • Kansas City Metro Area Winner: Pineda Family
  • St. Louis Metro Area Winner: Phil McHenry and Angie Clark and Family
  • Southeast Area Winner: Hurt Family

Outstanding Coach Nominees

  • Central Area Winner: Jessica Nunan
  • Southwest Area Winner: Jorden Bratcher
  • North Area Winner: Shirley Heideman
  • Kansas City Metro Area Winner: Jim Smith
  • St. Louis Metro Area Winner: Kama Totherow
  • Southeast Area Winner: Sheri Mason

Outstanding Volunteer Nominees

  • Central Area Winner: Curt Yaeger
  • Southwest Area Winner: John and Julie Clarke
  • North Area Winner: Greg and Paula Burns
  • Kansas City Metro Area Winner: Heather Rolli
  • St. Louis Metro Area Winner: Linda Tyler
  • Southeast Area Winner: Holly Godwin

Outstanding Athlete Nominees

  • Central Area Winner: Patrick Baker
  • Southwest Area Winner: Jody Davis
  • North Area Winner: Nate Carter
  • Kansas City Metro Area Winner: John Eckart
  • St. Louis Metro Area Winner: Jessica Bush
  • Southeast Area Winner: Lynn Shuffit

SOMO will conclude the Awards Banquet by giving out the 2023 Eunice Kennedy Shriver Award of Excellence. This year’s winner is KRCG-TV. SOMO surprised the Mid-Missouri television station with the news at the 2023 State Outdoor Games!

The SOMO Board of Directors implemented this award in 1988 as the Award of Excellence. But, in August 2018, the SOMO board voted to change the name to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Award of Excellence to honor the founder of Special Olympics. The EKS Award of Excellence is deemed the highest honor the board bestows on an individual or organization for its years of service and impact on the SOMO program.

Congratulations to all the award winners and Hall of Fame inductees!