A Time to Shine

Special Olympics Virginia Announces Annual Award Winners

Heroes come in all manners. Until this year, Brendan Hammeke’s top three: Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps and his dad, Pat. Another one may top his list in 2010, though: his sister, Casey.

You see, each spring, Special Olympics Virginia honors some of its most outstanding supporters. Some give their time, others give financially; one is always an athlete in our program. Nominations come from across Virginia, most from coaches or leaders of the local programs. This year was different. The Athlete of the Year nomination came from another athlete in our program, Casey.

“Brendan has always shown his very own courage, his very own joy, his very own heart, his very own love and his very own spirit,” Casey wrote on the nomination form. Special Olympics has enabled him to “fly, just like everybody else.”

Brendan Hammeke, the 2009 Athlete of the Year, has been a multi-sport athlete, and a terrific swimmer, for the last 19 years. He’s carried the Flame of Hope into Summer Games. He serves as a Global Messenger in our renowned speakers program; he’s even advocated for people with intellectual disabilities on Capitol Hill.

Way to go, Brendan. And way to go, Casey, for giving Brendan his time to shine.

The story doesn't end there, though.

This year, Brendan did not advance to the state-level Summer Games. Casey, however, was able to represent Area 26 (Northern Virginia) in swimming. Despite his disappointment, Brendan was on the sidelines this June cheering on Casey as she went for gold.

Way to go, Casey. And way to go, Brendan, for giving Casey her time to shine, too. You’re both heroes.

Congratulations to our Annual Award Winners

Special Olympics Virginia recognized Brendan Hammeke, as well as several other outstanding coaches and volunteers at the April Annual Awards Celebration, presented by Farm Bureau Insurance. Congratulations to all of the award winners:

  • Program Volunteer of the Year: Vicky Keaton, Newport News
  • Outstanding Area Volunteer: Ryan Pallone, Radford
  • Outstanding Family of the Year: The Vasquez Family, Alexandria
  • Coaches of the Year: Jim Stott, Virginia Beach & Leo Alonso, Fairfax
  • Athlete of the Year: Brendan Hammeke, Fairfax (pictured above)
  • Virginia H. Foster Winning Spirit Award: Brian Evans, Richmond