The Jesuit Dads' Club has been a pillar of support for the Special Olympics for decades. Their year-round planning of the event, and dedication to the cause is a cherished annual tradition and driving force in the success of the Special Olympics in the region.
Tuesday (Oct. 8), the Dads' Club was honored for this tremendous effort, receiving the Marilyn Grigsby Award from Special Olympics Florida during Convocation.
The Marilyn Grigsby Award is presented annually to an organization or group that has provided sustained involvement, service, guidance, expertise, project management, and or leadership over five or more years that has greatly impacted the Special Olympics program, volunteers, or athletes.
The Hillsborough County Director Special Olympics Florida, Ken Roop, P '13, '17, and the CEO of Special Olympics Florida, Sherry Wheelock, presented the award. Dads' Club members on hand to receiving the award were David Rowe '80 (president), Brian Smith '87 (vice president), Ernie Garateix P '21, and Jack Rodriguez P '21 (secretary).
The Special Olympics at Jesuit is the result of a remarkable team effort between the Dads' Club and Special Olympics Florida–Hillsborough County. Last April marked the fourth straight year Jesuit High School and the Dads' Club hosted the annual regional Special Olympics (officially named the Special Olympics Florida 2019 Area VIII Summer Games).
Jesuit's involvement in the event dates back to the roots of Special Olympics Florida: On June 3, 1972, Eunice Kennedy Shriver (the founder of the Special Olympics) and Gov. Reubin Askew came to Jesuit, and, along with Tampa Mayor Dick Greco, they lit the Olympic Torch as the school hosted the first statewide Special Olympics. After years at the University of South Florida, 2016 saw the return of the Special Olympics to Jesuit by the Dads' Club.
Founded in the 1960s, today Special Olympics Inc. is the world's largest provider of fitness training, education, and athletic competition – coupled with social, life, and leadership skill development opportunities – for children and adults with intellectual disabilities or a similar developmental disability. Special Olympics Florida was founded in 1972 and is one of the largest volunteer-driven athletic organizations in the state. Special Olympics Florida–Hillsborough County currently serves more than 1,500 athletes in 17 different sports. The athletes also are invited to participate in Athlete Leadership Programs and Healthy Athletes initiatives. More than 1,200 people from Tampa Bay volunteer each year with Special Olympics Florida–Hillsborough County.
Please see below a photo slideshow and a video of Tuesday's Convocation.