The John Michael Letz Award was established in December 1994 for the purpose of recognizing an individual whose unselfish efforts and contributions are directly responsible for the success of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Missouri. It is characterized as our unsung hero award.
The Torch Run Committee elected to name this award after Mr. Letz because of his long-time efforts while serving on the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Dept. and who died from cancer. The St. Louis Trivia night fundraiser was his creation. It continues still today raising over $170,000 since its inception. The first recipient of this award was Ralph Biele who was instrumental in starting Missouri’s Torch Run 28 years ago.
2014 – Letz Award Winner: Jeff Fugett
There is certain criteria required in order to be considered for this award. The individual nominated must be responsible for significant fundraising results. They must participate in year-round support, exemplify the Special Olympics mission, and be a visionary for the Torch Run. Most importantly, they must have a source of motivation that comes from helping the athletes and who shows sustained commitment over a period of time.
We have many individuals 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. They are usually in the background working to do more – and that’s why they are deserving of the Letz Award.
They have been involved in the Torch Run since 2000 and first participated as a runner. In 2007, they were chosen as the Missouri Final Leg Runner in China. They serve in the area as a key volunteer and is the “go to person” whenever there is a need for more volunteers, food, gym space, and/or sponsors.
Serving on committees is something that they are welcome to doing. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they have served for 8 years on the Games Management Team for the State Summer Games, served on the Polar Plunge committee for 5 years, and served as an Agency Coordinator since 2004.
Their service has been both successful and encouraging. For instance, this individual served as the Chairman last year for the Polar Plunge and recruited another host agency for the event. They helped to raise over $225,000 while serving as an Agency Coordinator. Also, they serve as Asst. Region Coordinator which enables them to work with recruiting and growing the LETR family in the area and to mentor others along the way.
This individual has willingly traveled outside the area to volunteer for SOMO events and has even traveled to a neighboring state to help fellow law enforcement friends.
As if that wasn’t enough, they have been a SOMO certified coach in basketball for the past 10 years. This has led them to represent Team Missouri’s by being the basketball coach at the last two USA Games.
In the words of his nominators: “This recipient served as my mentor in helping introduce me to athletes during competition. No matter what he’s doing, he always takes the time to stop and make a personal connection with athletes at events.”
On behalf of Special Olympics Missouri, we are honored to present the 2014 John M. Letz Award to a person who makes a big difference to their agency, to LETR, and to SOMO’s athletes, and half of the famed “water crew.”
Congratulations to our “Unsung Hero” – Jeff Fugett – MSHP Troop D.