SOKY Presents 2021 Annual Awards
Chitwood, Walker and Williams Honored at Annual SOKY Board Luncheon
Special Olympics Kentucky presented its most prestigious awards of the year on Dec. 13 during our annual Board Luncheon. The Awards go to those who most exemplify the Spirit of Special Olympics throughout the year.
Muhlenberg County athlete Katie Williams was named the program’s Athlete of the Year. Williams has been a Special Olympics athlete for 20 years competing in basketball, flag football, track, soccer, softball, and bowling. She is a graduate of the SOKY Athlete Leadership Program and previously served as the athlete representative on the SOKY Board. She is currently training to be among Kentucky’s first group of Health Messengers to help spread the word of the benefits of healthy lifestyles among her fellow athletes. Williams has also made multiple trips to Washington D.C. as part of Special Olympics Hill Day to advocate on behalf of her fellow athletes. Williams has been an outstanding mentor to athletes both in Muhlenberg County and athletes across the state who participate in Athlete Leadership trainings.
Carroll County’s Margaret Walker is our 2021 Coach of the Year. Walker began her involvement with Special Olympics in 1980 as a student at Western Kentucky University. After college she began work as a special education teacher in the Carroll County school system. In 2007, Walker became the local coordinator for Carroll County, serving as the point of contact for all Special Olympics activities there. She leads a program that participates in a wide variety of sports including bowling, track and field, skiing and snowshoeing. Walker’s work with her athletes extends beyond typical coaching roles. She spends countless hours helping her athletes with transportation and ensuring they get to non-sports events like MedFest. Many of her athletes consider Walker one of their best friends.
In presenting Walker’s award, Kim Satterwhite, Special Olympics Kentucky Vice President of Field and Athlete Services said, “Margaret has made a significant impact and demonstrated exceptional commitment to her athletes, the Special Olympics Kentucky program and the movement as a whole.”
Corey Chitwood of Louisville has been named SOKY Volunteer of the Year. Chitwood began his work with Special Olympics five years ago as a student at the University of Louisville through the organization’s Unified Collegiate program, participating in Unified sports activities on campus. Since then, his work with Special Olympics has continued to expand. While in-person activities were not possible, Chitwood helped organize virtual activities to help keep athletes involved. Earlier this year, Chitwood competed with athlete Caitlin Roy in the Global Special Olympics Unified Esports event Gaming for Inclusion. Even while completing an internship at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, Chitwood remained involved, commuting back to Louisville one night a week for Unified Basketball events because he knew our athletes were depending on him. In addition to Unified sports, Chitwood – who plans to attend medical school – has helped provide health screenings at MedFest and jumped in the Polar Plunge. He also competed this past bowling season as a bowling Unified partner. When needed, he regularly recruits family and friends to join him as volunteers at events. Chitwood completed his Master’s Degree in Bioengineering at UofL this fall.
In presenting his award, SOKY Director of Unified Champion Schools Karen Michalak-Parsley said of Chitwood, “Corey has become a friend and Unified partner to many athletes, a trusted volunteer and someone all of Special Olympics Kentucky can depend on.”
We will announce one more award – the Family of the Year – at our State Basketball Tournament in March. Congratulations to all this year’s honorees.
For more information about the Special Olympics Kentucky Annual Awards, contact Kelli Firquin at 502-695-8333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.