EKS Award

EKS Award

The EKS Award is presented annually to an athlete who has shown great leadership skills, both on and off the sporting field. The award is open to all Special Olympics Australia athletes.

This award honours Special Olympics founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Australian volunteer, Dr John Day inspired this award when he donated the medal he received from Mrs Shriver in 1976 to mark the beginning of Special Olympics in Australia.

Let an athlete know their efforts are making a difference and nominate them today.

Honour Roll

2017 |Miles Fisher (QLD)
2016 | Martin Smith (QLD)
             Nicole Bartley (QLD)
2015 | Liam O'Donnell (ACT)
2014 | Joshua Frost (NSW)
2013 | Mel Eustace (NSW)
2012 | Steven White (VIC)
             Russell Nelligan (WA)
2011 | Andrew Williams (VIC)
2010 | John Faulkner (QLD)
2009 | Saxon Graham (NSW)
2008 | Gabrielle Clark (NSW)
             Kelly Wren (NSW)
2007 | Christopher Farmer (SA)

2018 EKS Award Winner

Allister Peek, Greater Canberra, ACT

Allister has a long history with Special Olympics and has won gold medals at the last two Special Olympics World Games. He was nominated and voted in as Vice Chair of the Greater Canberra Club this year. He undertakes many promotional speaking engagements and represents Special Olympics in a distinguished manner. He continues to be heavily involved in our ALP’s course, and attends many of the ALP’s sessions, including running ice breaking sessions and teaching participants some sailing knot tying skills. He also assists the trainer with providing practical demonstrations and works with the athletes and mentors to encourage active participation. He has represented the ACT and Greater Canberra Club at a number of state competitions and Nationals Games and has won several medals through his sailing. He recently came 9th in the world at the World Hansa Championships in Japan.

2018 EKS Award Nominees

Shane Cooks Reynolds, Mackay, QLD
Shane has been involved in the Mackay Club since it was formed in 2012. Shane works tirelessly with the volunteers in all fundraising events as well as assisting other athletes fundraise. He was selected in the 2014 and 2018 National Games for basketball. He has over the years gained confidence in public speaking and supports the Club Chair in all public relation events as well as acting as the MC in the opening and closing ceremonies of the club's multi-sport event held each year. He captains a team of athletes with an intellectual disability in the local mainstream Australia Day basketball competition where they won their first game this year in Division 4. He also is the epitome of the mentor athlete with his conduct and his concerns for others rather than himself.

Will Brunsdon, North West New England, NSW
Will has been participating in Special Olympics for about 12 years. He has been a prominent swimmer for many years, breaking 32 world records in Down Syndrome swimming, and has taken up tenpin bowling, golf and lawn bowls over the last 5 years with Special Olympics. He has represented Special Olympics North West New England at Regional, State and National level and achieved very positive results in his ability to strive for excellence in the sports he has represented. He was one of the first athletes selected from the North West New England region to complete the Athlete Leadership Program. He is confident in presenting his story to organisations and really enjoys sharing his journey in Special Olympics with groups such as Rotary, Lions and church groups to ensure they develop an understanding of how much Special Olympics means to him. He has stepped forward to volunteer with different activities which also raise the profile of our regional club in the local community.

Keiran Corry, Hunter Valley, NSW
Keiran has been a member of Special Olympics Hunter Valley since 2004. He has represented at Inter-Club Level, State Events, National Games and World Games. He is also an Ambassador for Special Olympics Australia. Kieran is always willing to assist the club in any capacity he can. He was a Mentor at the most recent Junior National Games in Queensland where he displayed his leadership qualities supporting younger atheltes. He is on the Special Olympics NSW & ACT State Committee as the Athlete Representative. Keiran has been member of the Special Olympics NSW Team for the last 4 National Games and part of the Special Olympics Australia Swim Team at Athens and LA. He won in the Open Water Event in LA. At the 2018 SOA National Games in Adelaide he was the Captain of the Swim Team.

Dylan Shearer, Central Coast, NSW
Dylan has developed into a great role model for Special Olympics and fellow athletes with intellectual disabilities. His commitment to Special Olympics can also be seen by the fact he assists at sporting events in which he is not participating. He started in 2013 with the local athletics team gaining many great achievements in Regional and State competitions culminating in selection in the NSW Athletics team for the 2018 National Games. He won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the Games. He has also taken up tennis and was nominated for NSW for the National Games but elected to represent in Athletics. He is developing leadership skills through his participation in athletics where he has created rapport with fellow athletes and assisted the coaches in the athlete’s development. Dylan has been a great advocate for Special Olympics and has contributed to the growth of the Athletics and Tennis teams at the
club by supporting his peers.

Kie Wilson-McNaught, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Kie has shown clear and outstanding leadership attributes, assisting all athletes during their specific games events and with their particular warmups and training. He shows great patience and has a great repour with junior athletes giving them a mature and positive role model. He has competed in all state games since 2003 as well as National games at Gold Coast, Adelaide and Melbourne. After the games at Melbourne, he was selected to represent his country at the World Games in Los Angeles.
Kie has been a great support of the club and has been involved since 2002. He has been recognised through many awards including the Sport Achievement Award - Federal Member for Fairfax 2015 and Derek Richards Memorial Trophy Encouragement Award 2012. He has also received Sports Star of the month
and Sports star of the year twice at both Sunshine Coast and Gympie since 2005 and Athlete of the Year 2004.

EKS Award Winner 2017

Miles Fisher, Moreton North, Queensland

Miles has been training and competing in football and athletics with Special Olympics Australia for over eight years. He has been to a National Games, Trans Tasman Tournament and Asia Pacific Games and in that time has developed a passion for health and fitness. So he hit the books to gain the necessary qualifications to become a personal trainer and fitness advisor and now he is working in the field focussing on fitness for people with disability. Miles is described as compassionate, helpful and enthusiastic. Outside of Special Olympics he has a blue belt in both Brazilian Ju Jitsu and Wing Chun Kung Fu. In September 2016, Miles lead a group of community supporters in an inaugural fundraising event called Miles4Miles to raise money for local athletes selected for the Trans Tasman Tournament. Miles will compete in athletics at the 2018 National Games in Adelaide.

EKS Award 2017 Nominees: Martin Bankier, Melbourne Southern (VIC) | Keiran Corry, Hunter Valley (NSW) | Carley Chapman, Central Coast (NSW) | Will Brunsdon, North West New England (NSW) | Kie Wilson-McNaught, Sunshine Coast (QLD) | Sam Fogarty, Greater Canberra (ACT) | Hayden Grant, Ballart (VIC)

National Awards

There are so many people that make the Special Olympics Australia community rich, rewarding and welcoming. Special Olympics Australia has a range of annual rewards to say thanks.

National Awards:

The National Awards Program is an exciting opportunity to celebrate our dedicated athletes and volunteers.

The National Awards categories are:

  • Athlete of the Year and Young Athlete of the Year (16-26 years old)
  • Coach of the Year and Young Coach of the Year (16-26 years old)
  • Volunteer of the Year and Young Volunteer of the Year (16-26 years old)


2018 National Award Winners

Athlete of the year Winner

Catharine Keir, Greater Canberra, (ACT)

Catharine has been sailing over the last 10+ years. Following fantastic results at the National Games this year; she has been selected to be part of Team Australia at next year’s World Games. Beyond her fantastic sporting achievements with sailing she is an active participant in club social and fundraising activities. She promotes the values of Special Olympics, but also promotes community awareness of Special Olympics activities, having participated in expo activities over a number of years. She always models the values of Special Olympics. Catharine is a popular member of the sailing team and the wider club community.


Young Athlete of the year Winner

Chelseann Osborne, Mackay Fire, (QLD)

Chelseann is 17 years old and has been sailing for 9 years. She has sailing experience in the Sabot, Pacer, Hansa and Laser. She started sailing with Special Olympics in 2011. At the age of 13, she competed in the Albert Park Yacht Club Sailability Programme in Victoria. She was selected in the 2018 Special Olympics National Games and won gold and silver. Chelseann is excited to be selected to be part of Team Australia for Abu Dhabi in 2019. She exhibits outstanding sportsmanship on and off the water with her support of her teammates and other competitors. She understands that she must ensure a positive environment for her and others to achieve success.


Coach of the year Winner

Tom Xie, Melbourne Inner East, (VIC)

Tom has been the head coach at Melbourne Inner East for eight years and has a long history coaching main stream swimming at a National Level for China. His dedication and rapport with the athletes is incredible and has gained great respect from both the athletes and families at the club. Tom has no personal affiliation with Special Olympics and has now gone on to prepare athletes that have competed at the Melbourne 2014 and Adelaide 2018 National Games. Tom has the ability to create a training program based on a wide variety of needs and abilities while making each athlete feel special and part of the team.


Young coach of the year Merit Award

Olivia Piccone, Melbourne Inner East, (VIC)

Olivia has been involved as a volunteer coach for our weekly swimming program for over 3 years.  Her role has been to work with our less able swimmers to help them master basic swim techniques. Her dedication, patience and support has helped nervous non-swimmers gain confidence and survival skills over time. No challenge is insurmountable for Olivia! Through Olivia's coaching, she has built confidence in athletes over a period of time which has meant that they have competed at both a regional and state level.  In the past these athletes were only prepared to come to training and were very anxious about competing. Olivia has a very caring and nurturing nature and makes all athletes feel comfortable. She is able to speak to the athletes using language that they understand and is clear in her explanations. Even though she is still very young, she is at ease with each athlete and their individual needs. She is an absolute asset to our Melbourne Inner East swimming squad and club community. 


Volunteer of the year Winner

Mark Wilson, Melbourne Inner East, VIC

Mark has been actively involved in Special Olympics as a volunteer for over 15 years. His work as a volunteer has extended beyond Melbourne Inner East to a key member of the Athlete Leader Program (ALP) for Special Olympics Victoria over the past 7 years. He has shown great commitment and dedication to this program, which involves working with Special Olympics Athletes from various clubs to develop their skills to become athlete role models and spokes people for Special Olympics. Some of Mark's accomplishments include 15 years as General Committee member of Melbourne Inner East, Assistant to ALPs Vic Co-ordinator for 7 years, acted as an Athlete Leadership Mentor for Melbourne Inner East and supported fundraising activities in the club. He is an excellent role model for Special Olympics and the value of inclusion.


Young volunteer of the year Merit Award

Natalie Wilkinson, Melbourne Inner East, (VIC)

Natalie has been a volunteer for Melbourne Inner East Bowling since she was 15 years old. She has been volunteering for 8 years. She is a role model for young volunteers and is reliable, kind, encouraging and very friendly. She is a member of the Bowling League and an active player, so she has an excellent knowledge of the game and offers direction to athletes. She is very caring to the athletes, offering great encouragement and understanding. She is also very patient and a great listener. As a young volunteer, Natalie relates well with our junior athletes and her involvement fosters diversity and a youthful energy to the bowling program.


2018 National Awards Nominees

Athlete of the year

Robert Goodrem, Melbourne Inner East, (VIC)

Robert is a good all round sportsman. He is a member of Melbourne Inner East Tenpin Bowling, Aquatics and Basketball Teams. He joined Special Olympics in 2006. He is an active and enthusiastic contributor to the club and a role model to other athletes. He shows excellent leadership and is an active member of the Athlete Leadership Group. He represented Victoria in the Aquatics team at the Canberra Centennial Games in 2012 and at the Trans-Tasman Games in New Zealand in 2016. He was a torch runner at the games. He enjoys participating in all club, Inter-club and state games. He always likes to do his best, so to improve his bowling he joined a Bowling League with his mother and sister. He is now our top scoring Bowler with an average of 174. Robert always greets everyone by name and he never forgets anything you tell him. He is very caring to other athletes. He is always polite and very well mannered. He demonstrates excellent sportsmanship at all times.

Matthew McNeill, Mackay Fire, (QLD)

Matthew has shown a passion for volunteering with weekly meat raffles to support a local rugby league club as well as being an active volunteer in Special Olympics Mackay Fire. He has been involved for over a year with Special Olympics Mackay and has become valued as the Club Secretary. He encourages and urges other athletes to reach their personal best; bowls weekly in a tenpin bowling league with several 'Star Bowler' awards to his credit. He participates in table tennis weekly and also plays basketball on a Saturday. He has had success in being the star bowler at the local tenpin bowling Wednesday afternoon league and he also won the Mackay Table Tennis Association Closed AWD Skills gold medal last year which was a massive achievement given he only commenced at the beginning of the year. He is an encourager on the basketball court and participates in the assisted division.

Young athlete of the year (up to 26 years of age)

Cameron Pollard, North Coast, (NSW)

Cameron, has been involved with Special Olympics for over four years, he is a passionate golfer and bowler. He is a great role model to his fellow athletes and assists his club whenever possible, including being a coach and mentor to other athletes and with numerous fundraising events. In 2018 he gained his PGA accreditation in community coaching for My Schools, junior and swing fit ladies programs. He has been able to adapt many of his skills and coaching techniques in supporting his fellow athletes. Some of his accomplishments include 2014 National Games Melbourne - NSW Tenpin Bowling Team, 2016 Special Olympics Macau Golf Invitational, 2018 National Games Adelaide - NSW Golf Team, 2018 PGA accreditation in community coaching - My schools, Junior and swing fit ladies programs. 

Eliza Harrison, Greater Canberra, (ACT)

Eliza has shown great commitment to Special Olympics and her sport of swimming. Eliza was selected to participate in the National Games this year, and performed exceptionally well, bringing home a bronze medal and a personal best. Eliza is a great ambassador for our club, always showing the values of Special Olympics, and also participating in Club fundraising and social activities. Eliza is a quiet achiever. She is a role model through regular attendance at training and hard work to achieve her best results. 

Luke Huska, Illawarra, (NSW)

Luke joined Special Olympics in 2012 and has been a member ever since. Luke genuinely wants to help both himself and others and is always seeking support and advice as to how he can do this. Since joining Special Olympics he has competed at regional, state, national and international level. In 2014 he competed at the National Games in Melbourne for basketball, in 2016 he went to New Zealand to compete at the Trans-Tasman Games in swimming, in 2018 he again attended the National Games playing basketball. He has now been selected to play basketball at the World Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019. Luke is always a ready volunteer for fundraising for club BBQs, IGA promotions, or other club fundraising ventures.

Madeline Fox, Melbourne Inner East, (VIC)

Maddy is a hard working swimmer who has had success at both State and National Games. She is an excellent role model to other athletes and was a spokesperson for Special Olympics National Games. She volunteers her time at Melbourne Inner East and State swim meetings when she can't compete. Competed in swimming Melbourne National Games 2014 she took home 2 silver and 2 bronze medals and at the Adelaide National Games 2018 she received 1 gold, 2 bronze and a fourth place. Her Special Olympics swimming has helped her to gain selection to the National Downs Syndrome swim team where she has competed internationally in 2018. Maddy shows everyone who comes along that it doesn't matter what your disability is or how good you are at your sport it is just about trying to be the best that you can and give everything a try. She has even given up her spot in relay teams so that other swimmers can have a turn. She is the first to put up her hand if a region is running short swimmers and needs and extra swimmer.

Ricky Chittleborough, Perth, (WA)

Ricky is a great basketball player who has played twice for Special Olympics and also played for Ivory Burge three times in basketball. He has helped with coaching the Special Olympics team and helped with fund raising to get his team away.

Coach of the year

Craig Tobin, Redlands, (QLD)

Craig goes above and beyond in every way associated with supporting our swimming athletes and any others that he becomes involved with. He came to us a few years ago when our swimming was growing and in need of more teachers, and by 2017 took over as head coach. He has also spent time taking a former Special Olympics swimmer through to get his Bronze Coaching Certificate. This young man is the first person with Down Syndrome to become a Bronze Coach, and now comes and assists at Saturday training sessions. Despite working full time in a very busy job, Craig runs Special Olympics squads for an hour and a half twice a week, while also overseeing our Learn to Swim program and the teachers. Craig has a wonderful rapport with the athletes and is able to really bring out the best in each of them.

Margaret Roberts, Greater Canberra, (ACT)

Margaret has been involved with Special Olympics for many years, and has been the coach of our swimming program, as well as the swimming coach for the National Games. As the coach of the National Games team, she also ran additional training sessions for several weeks this year which allowed athletes to be better prepared for the National Games. Margaret is very dedicated and has shown willingness to go above and beyond the role of coach to improve outcomes for our athletes.  The North side swimming program is a very warm and welcoming program. They are very social, and parents/carers are welcome, and themselves have become friends. I believe this is due to the very welcoming attitude Margaret has brought to the program over many years. She is generous with her time, and always willing to work through issues with us. 

John Coletti, Mackay Fire, (QLD)

John is committed to the athletes and cause of Special Olympics in general. He has been involved in Special Olympics for 3 years. He was successful in being a National Coach in Adelaide for ten pin bowling. He has also coached two Team Australia selected athletes in ten pin bowling. He also assists athletes nominate in mainstream competition to prepare them for Special Olympics competitions and to assist to refine technique. John is an encourager and urges athletes to come and try ten pin bowling and focuses on the fun factor until the athlete chooses to step up their commitment to ten pin.


Young coach of the year (up to 26 years of age)


Volunteer of the year

Athanasia (ka Sue) Lazarou, Inner West, NSW

Sue has been involved since 2009. Her dedication and support to athletes with intellectual disability, families and carers is second to none. She is very compassionate and goes above and beyond in her role as a volunteer basketball coach and committee member. She is highly respected and looked up to by other members, parents/carers. She is a committee member, a basketball coach, fundraiser, and go-to person for any enquiries for information. She is involved in all aspects of the club, takes time out of her day to always be there to help when required. 

David Johnson, Sydney East, NSW

David Johnson is one of the founding members of Special Olympics Sydney East. He has been a member of this club for close to 30 years. In his earlier career with Special Olympics Sydney East he acted as Chair, Secretary and Uniform Coordinator. As a swimming coach he can calm and teach any disability and any age and any level of need. He attends all social functions and supports the club in its growth and development. He has acted as a source of history and advice to the present committee of Special Olympics Sydney East. He has organised swimming carnivals, social events, fundraising and sausage sizzles to promote the athletes. He talks and calms the new parents as they watch him coach their athletes in the water. David was also involved in Ocean swim with disabled swimmers to promote awareness of Special Olympics Australia in the general community. 

David Williams, Greater Canberra, ACT

David has run a great athlete leadership program, including arranging for media training to be provided to our athletes and their mentors. In addition, David is a committed committee member, who always makes himself available to assist with competitions and events. David’s efforts have been recognized in the broader ACT community, having recently been awarded the 2019 ACT Local Hero award at the ACT Australia Day Awards. David has been involved with Special Olympics for approximately 5 years. David is the mentor to 2 of our athlete leaders. David provides honest feedback and growth opportunity, but does so in a positive and esteem building way. 

Gavin Dovey, Melbourne West. VIC

Gavin has been a long time supporter of Melbourne West. As Chair of the club he works tirelessly to raise money and organize things for athletes. He is a valued member of Melbourne West and always has time to just have a chat with parents or athletes. Gavin was Head of Delegation for the Victorian team at the recent National Games 2018 where he oversaw a large delegation of athletes. 

Marilyn Caruana, Central Coast, NSW

Marilyn has 11 years of service to Special Olympics at a club, state and national level. Marilyn's leadership at club level has been outstanding. She is always positive and full of encouragement. One of her many strengths is her ability to let the athletes believe in themselves to become the very best that they can be. She was Chair of Central Coast club for eight years and was selected as Team Support at the Asia Pacific Games in Newcastle in 2013. She has taken on the Head Medic for the National Games in 2010, 2014 and 2018 as well as the Trans-Tasman Games in Hamilton in 2017. She was awarded the Rotary Quiet Achiever award in March 2018 in recognition of community care and involvement. 

Judy Dal'Bo, Mackay Fire, QLD

Judy has been involved in Special Olympics for over 2 years. Judy was assigned the role of food convenor 2 years ago when catering was required at our Multi Sport Event. She has now managed the food and volunteer assignment of three multi-sport events and food preparation for travelling athletes and volunteers. Judy is supportive of all club events and especially fundraising events to reduce out of pocket expenses for athletes. Without Judy, out multi sports events, trips away and fundraising events would not be as successful.

Julie Daskal, Mid North Coast, NSW

Julie has worked tirelessly in promoting Special Olympics within the Mid North Coast Club, being a mentor and a well a wealth of information for our athletes. This has been a build-up, a fantastic effort of 5-6 years that she has been with Special Olympics Mid North Coast. She has been selected as team support for the Special Olympic NSW National Team in Tenpin bowling in 2018 and 2014. Julie has been a relentless promoter of Special Olympics throughout our region and finally gaining recognition in her local area Forster and the Manning Great Lakes area as Volunteer of the year in 2017. She has been the clubs main fundraiser. In the last 12 months she has built a relationship with the Forster Tenpin bowling alley and the Forster Bowling Club. She also fostered relationship between us and the Hunter region by including the Hunter Club athlete who lives in Forster in our entire fundraising for the World Games in 2019.

Peter Langthorne, Northern Beaches Sydney, NSW

Peter was appointed for Assistant Head of Delegation for the 2018 National Games. He has always put himself out to help everyone and have a good understanding of Special Olympics. He has given up his time to help with Regional and State and National Games. Peter is a role model to all young people and has become a mentor to help athletes within his Community. He has showed commitment by always being available to help from a young age even though he has no siblings or family with intellectual disabilities. He encourages all athletes to do their best and enjoy themselves make friends.

Peter Wren, Sydney South, NSW

Peter has been with the Sydney South Club for over 20 years and has spent many hours going above and beyond helping our athletes and club to ensure both prosper. He has held the a range of positions at the Sydney South Club including Vice Chair, Basketball Coordinator, and Sports Coordinator (current). He has held the position on the National Selection Committee for the last 5 years. He has invested his time and energy over a 20 year period to ensure both our athletes and club have always had the opportunity to participate at their chosen sport. He is selfless in his striving for our athletes and always put their needs first. At a club level he is our Basketball Coordinator and works with our coaches to ensure we have training every week.  


Young volunteer of the year (up to 26 years of age)

Shannen Donnelly, Mackay Fire, (QLD)

Shannen is a young woman that is keen on horses, has two jobs and still has found the time to be involved in Special Olympics for over 2 years. She has been able to expand her skills and abilities in the sport of equestrian; her favourite sport. She has grown in confidence in being able to present herself to volunteers, coaches and athletes when calling dressage events. It has also allowed her to expand her social network with her attending QBL games with the club and sitting with the athletes and volunteers. As a volunteer she juggles her work commitments that always coincide with her commitment to the club to call the dressage event at our multi-sport event. Given that she has no family with any disabilities, she certainly exhibits a casualness and easiness with the athletes when interacting with the athletes that show she sees them as no different from herself.

Hall of Fame Award

Hall of Fame

Each year Special Olympics Australia recognises a volunteer (or volunteers) who has shown dedication to our mission and long-standing commitment to our athletes by inducting them into the Hall of Fame. Nominations are sort from the Special Olympics Australia community and the National Selection Committee select the winner.

Hall of Fame Nominations Are Currently Closed

Honour Roll

2014 | Moira Ryde (VIC)
2013 | Albert Green, OAM (ACT)
2012 | Norm Maroney APM, OAM (NSW)
2011 | Robyn Cook OAM (VIC)
2010 | Susan Grealy (QLD)
2009 | Rex Langthorne AM (NSW)
2008 | Alan Burke (VIC)
2007 | Eric Jones OAM (VIC)
             Kurt Kraushofer OAM (VIC)
2006 | Barry Easy OAM (NSW)
             Marian York (QLD)
2005 | Robyn Hanson OAM (TAS)
2004 | Anna-Louise Kassulke (QLD)
2003 | Jan Sharp OAM (VIC)
2002 | Leon Burwell OAM (NSW)
2001 | Carol Tanner OAM (TAS)
2000 | Des Renford MBE, OHC (NSW)