Jennifer Neihouse, Jeff Fugett, Mike and Kathy Lowry and the Hewlett family were all recognized for their outstanding contributions to Special Olympics Missouri at the 2014 SOMO Annual Awards Luncheon Jan. 18 in Branson. Each year, Special Olympics Missouri salutes those who have made significant contributions to the Special Olympics movement.
Outstanding Athlete: Jennifer Neihouse, Lee’s Summit
Jennifer Neihouse has everything a coach could want in an athlete–hustle, hard work, always smiling, cheering, great team work, willingness to try new sports and then some! She participates in bowling, track, swimming, basketball, bocce, softball and powerlifting. She would do more if we offered it and it fit her schedule!
Jennifer is currently tackling a swimming routine to improve her times so she can do well at this summer’s USA Games in New Jersey. Once again, we have challenged Jennifer to work hard at a sport that is not easy nor her best one but once again she is doing the work and making improvements so she can do her very best.
Jennifer also exhibits a love for promoting the program and has taken the steps to be a Global Messenger. She has given her time to go out and promote the message of Special Olympics to many groups in KC.
Outstanding Volunteer: Jeff Fugett, Bolivar
Jeff Fugett is a trooper with the Missouri Highway Patrol and has been involved with SOMO since 2000. In his time with SOMO he has served on various committees and participated in the Torch Run every year. Jeff also has volunteered his time at various events as well as hosting an area basketball tournament and has served for several years on the water crew at Summer Games.
At the 2013 State Summer Games, Jeff decided to come up early and help coordinate a group of officers to set up the games. He then participated in the final leg of the Torch Run to open the games. When medal presenters didn’t show, he stepped in and helped present medals to the athletes. On top of what he did at Summer Games last year, he then did the same thing at Fall Games, helping with the tear down of each venue.
In addition to his volunteering at events, he is also a Super Plunger raising a minimum of $2,500. He has been a Super Plunger for many years and truly does NOT enjoy jumping in the icy cold waters at the Lake of the Ozarks 24 times in 24 hours, but does so because he believe in the mission and in the nearly 17,000 athletes in Missouri.
Outstanding Coaches: Mike and Kathy Lowry, Independence
Kathy and Mike Lowry are both dedicated, passionate and selfless coaches who give their all to Special Olympics Missouri. The two-for-one package is hard to break. Mike and Kathy are coaches who work on improving their athlete’s lives by growing them as leaders both on and off the playing field. They are always looking for better ways to improve their athletes’ skills. They often give their time on a free weekend to travel to sports clinics and other activities, so the athletes can learn new skills and improve others. Mike and Kathy offer seven different sports at William Chrisman High School, but when athletes want to play a sport they do not offer, the Lowrys find a team for athletes to play on, and make sure they get to practice.
Besides these duties, they both volunteer their time as key Volunteer Managers at the area & state level competition. Both Mike and Kathy also bring their talents to Sports Camp for a week, in order to help make camp a wonderful experience fort the athletes. It’s nice to count on them as they can be moved around at events to assist with different activities and they will make it fun for everyone.
Outstanding Family: The Hewletts, Warrenton
The Hewlett family is a family that goes above and beyond to build awareness for Special Olympics Missouri. Kim Hewlett is the mother of D.J., Emily and Sarah. Emily and Sarah are both athletes in the program. D.J. is their older brother and he volunteers in a variety of ways as a chaperone, Unified Partner and venue coordinator.
Kim is a single mom who works a very demanding full-time job. She is an advocate not just for her own children, but for others as well.
D.J. works full time at the sheltered workshop and goes to college in the evenings. D.J. applied for the job at the workshop because of his sisters and his involvement with Special Olympics and his love for working with individuals with special needs.