Spirit of Special Olympics Awards 2019: Family of the Year

by | Oct 29, 2019 | Spotlight

The Indiana Spirit of Special Olympics 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 Gillihan Family, from Boone County, is our 2019 Spirit of Special Olympics Family of the Year.

We often say that Special Olympics is like a family—and it’s true. But within that family are millions of smaller families, all of whom contribute to our cause in countless ways, each and every day around the world. The Gillihan family lives and breathes Special Olympics.

Jama Gillihan already had three grown children when she decided to foster and ultimately adopt five siblings—Alex, Tim, Dillon, Nicholas, and Anita—each of whom went on to become Special Olympics athletes. Alex, Tim, and Dillon compete year-round, and the family is always among the first to arrive and the last to leave at any Special Olympics event, helping with set up, tear down, and everything in between.

They participate in countless fundraisers to benefit the Boone County program, and the entire family is involved in helping to grow and support our movement.

Jama’s daughter, Heather, has coached basketball and softball, and is head cheerleader to her brothers. Heather’s husband can be seen at cycling practices making adjustments and repairs to bicycles and coaching the athletes. Jama’s grandson, Qwinten, is also now involved as an athlete, and her other grandchildren and family members are wonderful help in setting up for special events.

There’s a saying: “if you want something done, give it to a busy person.” That’s the Gillihan family — often going in several directions at once but always ready to give their time and hard work to Special Olympics.

For all these reasons and many more, the Gillihan 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 Boone County and throughout the state.

2019 Indiana Spirit of Special Olympics Awards

  • Coach of the Year
  • LETR Officer of the Year
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Family of the Year
  • ‘Michael Furnish’ Athlete of the Year
  • ‘Dennis Schmidt’ Impact Award

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