Tommy Parson of Berea has been named the Special Olympics Kentucky 2015 Athlete of the Year. The award was presented Jan. 16 in Louisville at the Special Olympics Kentucky State Leadership Conference. The award recognizes an athlete who exemplifies the spirit of Special Olympics by demonstrating skill, positive sportsmanship and courage.
Parson, 29, has been a Special Olympics athlete for 15 years. He has competed in bowling, basketball, track and field, and softball.
Parson returned to competition in 2015 after a foot injury sidelined him for nearly a year. Madison County Special Olympics local coordinator Eden Fisher, who nominated Parson, recounted his return in her nomination form:
“He was a little apprehensive about his ability to run the dash and compete with the other athletes,” Fisher said. “Then the morning of the state games, while he was stretching and warming up, I heard him tell his dad – coach Lloyd – that he was ready to go and that he was going to be brave and do this for him and his team. He competed fearlessly and triumphed. He came in second and proudly displayed his silver metal for the rest of the day.”
In addition to the Athlete of the Year Award, Special Olympics Kentucky also named its 2015 Coach of the Year at the same event. That honor went to Louisville coach Janet Ballinger. Ballinger has served as a Special Olympics coach for more than 45 years, most recently with the Binet School program. She has coached nearly every sport that Special Olympics Kentucky offers. She was a part of the coaching staff for the Kentucky delegation that participated in the 1987 World Summer Games.
Bechtel Parsons donates $10,000 to school district
Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass has presented a $10,000 donation to the Madison County School District to fund innovative classroom activities focused on science, technology, engineering and math. Teachers from nine schools will share the funds from Bechtel Parsons for activities to promote student-centered learning.
In addition to the teacher grants, Bechtel Parsons also donated $3,000 for scholarships of $1,500 for one graduate each of Madison Central and Madison Southern high schools who plan to attend Eastern Kentucky University or Berea College.