Spirit of Special Olympics Indiana: 2018 LETR Officer 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 Boone County Sheriff Michael Nielsen is our 2018 Spirit of Special Olympics LETR Officer of the Year!
As the largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) relies on officers and staff from law enforcement agencies around the world to become active in volunteering and raising money for local programs. Over the course of more than a decade, Sheriff Nielsen has distinguished himself as one of Indiana’s most dedicated and reliable supporters of the Special Olympics movement.
Nicknamed “Big Dog,” Sheriff Nielsen is a larger than life role model and friend to the athletes of Special Olympics Indiana’s Boone County program. His genuine enthusiasm shines through in his every interaction with the athletes and their families, and his sincere words of encouragement and support have made a lasting impression in the lives of the people we serve.
Year after year, Sheriff Nielsen dedicates time and resources to help make the Boone County Law Enforcement Torch Run a success, raising thousands of dollars in the process. He has recruited his fellow officers, administrative staff, friends, and family to be a part of the run and to get involved in other events, like the annual Strikes for Special Olympics bowling fundraiser. Any time Sheriff Nielsen gets involved, he always has quite a following – and he never fails to be actively engaged with the athletes, making each event exciting for everyone around him.
Although his generosity and fundraising ability make him a valuable resource for Special Olympics Indiana, it’s his commitment to the cause and dedication to our athletes that truly exemplifies Sheriff Nielsen’s Spirit of Special Olympics. His participation is year-round.
- Last June, Sheriff Nielsen wrote personalized “good luck” notes to each Boone County athlete competing at Summer Games, inviting his deputies to join in. At the Games, each athlete received five or six notes of encouragement, bringing them immeasurable pride and joy beyond anything they might have experienced through competition alone.
- In November, Sheriff Nielsen and his deputies served food in the banquet line at the Boone County Winter Bash, where he addressed the crowd and encouraged the athletes to be the best they can be. He reminded them to always be proud of their accomplishments and to keep in mind that they each are role models for someone else.
- And in September, when he discovered that the Boone County team was preparing to compete in the state softball tournament, he organized a fun and exciting surprise for the athletes when he had a team of local law enforcement officers stop by unannounced for a practice game.
For all these reasons and more, Sheriff Michael Nielsen is very deserving of this award for his efforts in helping us to better the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in his community and throughout Indiana.