Spirit of Special Olympics Indiana: 2018 Family of the Year
The Spirit of Special Olympics Indiana Awards are presented annually at our State Conference, recognizing the athletes, coaches, volunteers, families, and LETR officers who have gone above and beyond in their contributions and commitment to the Special Olympics movement over the course of the past year or more. Nominations for each category are submitted by our Area Management Teams before Area winners are selected, and from that list, Special Olympics Indiana’s Board of Directors chooses the state award winners each year.
Special Olympics Indiana is pleased to announce that The Foster Family, from Hamilton County, is our 2018 Spirit of Special Olympics Family of the Year!
For Missee and Joe Foster, Special Olympics has been a way of life for nearly 25 years. Since 1994—when the Fosters attended their first Indiana Summer Games to cheer on Missee’s brother, Sam—the family of five has logged more than 120 combined years of experience as athletes, coaches, unified partners, and volunteers.
Inspired by what they saw at those first Games, Missee and Joe set out to get involved with their local program in any way that they could. In the early years, that meant coaching every sport that was offered by the Hamilton Heights program and competing as unified partners whenever possible. It also meant serving on the management team in a variety of roles.
Their two young children, Raine and Justus, were with them at those first games—but it wasn’t until 1997, when Justus was diagnosed with autism, that it became clear that they had found Special Olympics for a reason. A third child, Roman, was also born that year and received a similar diagnosis five years later.
When the Hamilton County program formed in 1999, the Foster family was there. Missee and Joe served on the County Management Team and Raine, Justus, and Roman were the loudest fans at every event. Later, as the kids came of age, Raine became a unified partner and Justus and Roman became athletes.
In the years since, the Foster family has left an indelible mark on the countless lives they have touched through their involvement in Special Olympics, in Hamilton County and beyond. Missee and Joe have given so much of their time and talents as trainers, coaches, mentors, and leaders. Justus has excelled at sports like golf and powerlifting, while Roman prefers team sports and now coaches the Hamilton County basketball skills team. Nearly every friend or extended family member has been involved in the movement as well.
In spite of health problems that forced Missee to scale back her commitment to the Area 8 Management Team in 2016, the Fosters were quick to act when they learned, just a few months later, that the Hamilton County program needed leadership. Missee now serves as County Coordinator and, with Joe as her Sports Director, the two are an unstoppable pair. They are relentless in their pursuit of improvements to the program, adding new tournaments, recruiting new volunteers, and raising more money in the name of providing the best experience possible for the athletes.
For all these reasons and many more, the Foster family has exemplified the Spirit of Special Olympics and has more than earned this award for their efforts in helping us to better the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in Hamilton County and throughout the state.