Special Olympics logo.
Each year it is the pleasure of Special Olympics South Dakota to recognize our Outstanding Award Winners. These individuals and groups contribute their time, talents and resources in support of SOSD. They are the driving force behind our success. 
Special Olympics athletes, coaches, families and volunteers are invited to submit nomination forms for consideration. The Athlete of the Year and the Coach of the Year will be presented their awards at the High School Coaches Association Awards Luncheon held in Aberdeen annually in July.   All award winners will be recognized during the State Bowling Tournament banquet.

Award Categories

The Don Baker Award is the highest award received from Special Olympics South Dakota. It is given in honor of Don Baker who was a volunteer and official starter for Special Olympics events for many years. The award is given annually to an individual, organization, business, or agency that has given outstanding support to Special Olympics South Dakota.

The Athlete of the Year Award is presented to the Special Olympics athlete who has demonstrated the true spirit, courage, sharing and joy of Special Olympics. The Special Olympics athlete must have attended at least one competition during the year. Each nomination is reviewed for individual effort, enthusiasm, sportsmanship and achievement.

The Family of the Year Award is presented to a family which has demonstrated outstanding support and enthusiasm for Special Olympics.

The Outstanding Coach (Ron Stewart Award) is presented to a Special Olympics Coach who demonstrates the highest degree of technical skill and personal commitment needed to motivate and train Special Olympics athletes. Enthusiasm, attendance at competition, and effort put into coaching will be considered.

The Volunteer of the Year (Lyle Farrand Award) is presented to the person who exhibits the best example of voluntary action to improve the quality of Special Olympics at any level. The volunteer should have provided a full year of service. Members of local groups and the State Board of Directors may be nominated. Nominees will be reviewed for time of service, effort, and originality.

The Champion Award (DJ Mertens Award) is presented to any business, organization, or media outlet which has made a major contribution to Special Olympics South Dakota. 

The Unity Award is presented to a Unified Partner, individual or entity that promotes inclusion for people with an intellectual disability.  The nominee should actively promote acceptance and understanding for all.

Past Winners

Athlete of the Year Award: Jessica Walker, Sioux Falls

Don Baker Award: Valley Queen Cheese, Milbank

Family of the Year Award: McGraw Family, Raymond

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Carleen Krebs, Spearfish Peaks

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): JD & Laura Young, Belle Fourche

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Tinner’s Public House, Sioux Falls

Unity Award: Shannon Keller, Rapid City

Athlete of the Year Award: Derek Smith, Sioux Falls Tom Brought Plenty, Rapid City

Don Baker Award: Nancy Lehner, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Daniel Family, Madison

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Deb Alickson, Spearfish

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer):Jody Clarambeau & Tarrah Peterson, Pierre

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Dakota News Now, Sioux Falls

Unity Award: Spearfish Schools

Athlete of the Year Award: Correna Templar, Rapid City

Don Baker Award: Dawn Ruhlman, Brookings

Family of the Year Award: Fossen Family, Spearfish

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Peggy Heermann, Aberdeen

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Michael Fletcher, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): AGROPUR, Lake Norden

Unity Award: Kaylee Namken, Vermillion

Athlete of the Year Award: Kent Mulholland, Spearfish

Don Baker Award: Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell

Family of the Year Award: Sabrowski Family, Rapid City

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Leslie Antonsen, Pierre

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Tracey Steinbach, Spearfish

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Edward Jones Financial, Rapid City

Unity Award: NESC Special Olympics

Athlete of the Year Award: Noah Pierce, Sioux Falls

Don Baker Award: Dakota Beverage, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Van Roekel Family, Ethan

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Cort Hansen, Sioux Falls

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Jackson Bolstad, Rapid City

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Visit Spearfish, Inc., Spearfish

Unity Award: Tealayna Hill, Belle Fourche

Athlete of the Year Award: Bruce Weeldreyer, Sioux Falls

Don Baker Award: Black Hills Harley Davidson, Rapid City

Family of the Year Award: Kjergaard Family, Rowena

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Lori Jerred, Vermillion

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Shelly Wolfe, Rapid City

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): First PREMIER/PREMIER Bankcard, Sioux Falls

Athlete of the Year Award: Rich Riter, Sioux Falls

Don Baker Award: Myles Kennedy, Spearfish

Family of the Year Award: Esten Family, Sioux Falls

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Brent Steinbach, Spearfish

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Michelle Carter, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): SD High School Coaches Association

Athlete of the Year Award: Mallory Bingham, Aberdeen

Don Baker Award: Brian Jacobsen, Lake Norden

Family of the Year Award: Mark Family, Greater Sioux Falls Area

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Alden & Lillie Pendleton, Rapid City

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Misty Farabee, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Rapid City Cobbler 2 Cobbler

Athlete of the Year Award: Tanner Stirling, Parkston

Don Baker Award: Kip Eggebrasten, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Bradwisch Family, Mitchell

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Jennifer Dobney, Vermillion

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Jody Grubb, Belle Fourche

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Sammons Financial Group, Sioux Falls

Athlete of the Year Award: Chana Sandoval, Sioux Falls

Don Baker Award: Jan Putnam, Yankton

Family of the Year Award: Sandoval Family, Mitchell

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Mike & Cindy Markley, Aberdeen

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Charlie Unterbrunner, Artesian

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Black Hills State University, Spearfish

Athlete of the Year Award: Matt Bosch, Aberdeen

Don Baker Award: Joel Perry, Aberdeen

Family of the Year Award: Heckel Family, Spearfish

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Joel Lubovich, Sioux Falls

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Salena Engels, Brookings and Beth Lalim, Brookings

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Village Bowl, Aberdeen

Athlete of the Year Award: Kathie Herrera, Vermillion

Don Baker Award: Barb Sandoval, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Kuechenmeister Family, Brookings

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Cathy Grubb, Belle Fourche

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Don Rieck, Spencer

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Kiwanis Club, Watertown

Athlete of the Year Award: Betsy Daniel, Brookings and Taylor VanWell, Watertown

Don Baker Award: Jim & Doris Hornby, Brookings

Family of the Year Award: Ayres Family, Brookings

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Brian Jacobsen, Lake Norden

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Jessica Spencer, Brookings

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Al Stockman, Rapid City

Athlete of the Year Award: Natty Clayton, Yankton

Don Baker Award: Johna Thum, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Koski Family, Spearfish

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Brett Spencer, Brookings

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Michele Zahn, Aberdeen

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Premier Bank, Spearfish

Athlete of the Year Award: Dawn Ruhlman, Brookings

Don Baker Award: Al & Jan Lenz, Huron

Family of the Year Award: Arnold Family, Sioux Falls

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Bo Ivers, Brookings

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Todd Bradwisch, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Mickelson MS, Brookings

Athlete of the Year Award: Matt Jacobsen, Sioux Falls

Don Baker Award: Melanie Frosch, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Lee Family, Brookings

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Tevan Fischbach, Aberdeen

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Peggy Heckel, Spearfish

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Brookings Utilities Huron K of C

Athlete of the Year Award: Julie Bleeker, Watertown

Don Baker Award: Laurie Meland, Watertown

Family of the Year Award: Kool Family, Brookings

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Missy Hill, Aberdeen and Jessie Kuechenmeister, Brookings

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Larry Griep, Watertown

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Premier Bank, Watertown and Brookings Daily Register Michelson MS, Brookings

Athlete of the Year Award: Robert Catherman, Rapid City

Don Baker Award: Duane Popham, Watertown

Family of the Year Award: Alickson Family, Belle Fourche

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Suzy Gehring, Brookings

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): June Wipf, Huron

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): HyVee Brookings Monogram Club, Brookings

Athlete of the Year Award: Cassie Migge, Watertown

Don Baker Award: Steve Jacobson, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Markley Family, Aberdeen

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Dick Birtah, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Premier Bank, Watertown, Megan Dorsch, Sioux Falls and Aberdeen Chamber, Aberdeen

Athlete of the Year Award: Chris Wellnitz, Brookings

Don Baker Award: Gene Brownell, Aberdeen

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Bill Clucas, Rapid City

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Holly Jacobs, Sioux Falls

Athlete of the Year Award: April Cease, Aberdeen

Don Baker Award: Sandi Ragels, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Kim Habeck Family, Aberdeen

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Jill Christenson, Brookings

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Dean Gertsma, Watertown

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Coca Cola, Sioux Falls, 893.7 Brookings KNBN Rapid City BHSU, Spearfish

Athlete of the Year Award: Rita Hoffman, Aberdeen

Don Baker Award: DJ Mertens, Kennebec

Family of the Year Award: Steve Jacobson Family, Sioux Falls

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Angie Peterson, Mitchell

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Damon de Wit, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Satum, Sioux Falls and Sertoma, Sioux Falls

Athlete of the Year Award: Joann Moffenbier, Aberdeen

Don Baker Award: Mike Hilbrands, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Curt Blackburn Family, Brandon

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Carol Jacobs, Sioux Falls

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Nicki Huggins, Sturgis

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Premier Bank Sertoma, Sioux Falls, 893.7, Brookings and Special Olympics, Sioux Falls

Athlete of the Year Award: Corey Hall, Sioux Falls

Don Baker Award: Bob Arnold, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Hight Family, Brandon

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Mary Feller, Watertown

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Amy Buechler, Warner

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): ShopKo Optimists, Watertown and KSFY, Sioux Falls, USD Track

Athlete of the Year Award: Joel Schultz, Aberdeen

Don Baker Award: Traci Wickenheiser, Bath

Family of the Year Award: Wolf Miggs Family, Watertown

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Popeye & Pam Call, Sioux Falls

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Virgil Eberly, Rapid City

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): South Park Lanes, Belle Fourche, FOP/FOP A Doug Lund, Sioux Falls, NSU

Athlete of the Year Award: Melissa Heckel, Spearfish

Don Baker Award: Ron Siebrecht, Redfield

Family of the Year Award: Roy Schull Family, Rapid City

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Steve Jacobson, Sioux Falls

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Mary Hayes, Brookings

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): ShopKo, Knights of Columbus, VFW Ladies Auxiliary, Rapid City Journal

Athlete of the Year Award: Paul Lilly, Vermillion

Don Baker Award: Ross Dickson, Vermillion

Family of the Year Award: Haider Family, Watertown

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Pam Godfrey, Rapid City & Jim Adams, Huron

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Kristi Kalb, Hartford

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): ATC, Aberdeen, Crooks Optimists, KWAT Radio, Watertown, NE Area

Athlete of the Year Award: Buddy Hurd, Redfield

Don Baker Award: Dennis Schmitz, Huron

Family of the Year Award: Toby Vanderfeen Family, Watertown

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Johna Thum, Aberdeen

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Kathi Anderson, Redfield

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Two Way Radio, Sioux Falls, Kiwanis, Huron, Public Opinion, Watertown, SDSU Athletics

Athlete of the Year Award: Kory Quitsch, Redfield

Don Baker Award: LETR

Family of the Year Award: Shantz Family, Redfield

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Deb Schooley, Watertown

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Sgt. Bill Egan, Rapid City

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): SDDC Redfield, Knights of Columbus, Aberdeen, Lawrence Co Cent, Redfield High School

Athlete of the Year Award: Tim Schellhouse, Sioux Falls

Don Baker Award: Ron Stewart, Rapid City

Family of the Year Award: Hazelwood Family, Sioux Falls

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Lyle Ferrand, Sioux Falls

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Lynn Shattuck, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): CCHS, Sioux Falls, VFW Ladies Auxiliary, Aberdeen, Mitchell Park & Rec

Athlete of the Year Award: Ian Mildenberg, Sioux Falls

Don Baker Award: Dick & Kim Benning, Redfield

Family of the Year Award: Mildenberg Family, Sioux Falls

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Holly Moeller

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Judy Miller, Beresford

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): ITI, VFW Ladies Auxiliary, Aberdeen American News, Willow Run, Sioux Falls

Athlete of the Year Award: Darrel Davis

Don Baker Award: Robert Gates

Family of the Year Award: Lohrman Family, Aberdeen

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Bob Salmi, Aberdeen

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Ron Risty, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Wells Blue Bunny, Knights of Columbus, KABY, Kampeska Lanee, Watertown

Athlete of the Year Award: Angie Cihak, Huron

Don Baker Award: USD

Family of the Year Award: Popeye Call Family, Sioux Falls

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Lorene Sorlien

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Citibank Employees

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Alumax Extrusion, Cattle Women, EROS Data Center, SDBBCA

Athlete of the Year Award: Brenda Schmitt, Rapid City

Don Baker Award: SD Air National Guard

Family of the Year Award: Jim Lawler Family, Aberdeen

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Janet Trefz, Aberdeen

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Lt. Col. Jack Majares, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Raven Industries, Sioux Falls, American Legion Auxiliary, KSFY, Minnehaha Rec

Athlete of the Year Award: Nate Thompson, Aberdeen

Don Baker Award: Lyle Farrand, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Ed Krempges Family, Yanktown & Dick Benning Family, Redfield

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Dean Gross, Huron

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Don Gullickson, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Citibank, American Legion Auxiliary, KELO, KKLS, Great Bear, Sioux Falls

Athlete of the Year Award: Chad Almont, Sioux Falls

Don Baker Award: Ellsworth Striders

Family of the Year Award: David Darling Family, Watertown

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Fred Steffen, Yankton

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Dennis Schmitz, Huron

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Metz Baking RC, Centerville FFA, KDLT

Family of the Year Award: Wilfred Schmidt Family, Lane

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Jean Frederick, Sioux Falls

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Sandi Ragels, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Landstroms, KELOland, Knights of Columbus, Pierre, SDHSCA

Don Baker Award: New Car Dealer Association, Sioux Falls

Family of the Year Award: Sanford Hrabe Family, Chamberlain

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Ron Stewart, Rapid City

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Lois Nygard, Sioux Falls

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Frontier Airlines, Sioux Falls, KSOO, KSFY, Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, Knights of Columbus, Huron, SDHSCA

Family of the Year Award: Crayton Bouchie Family, Blunt

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Bruce Willer, Huron

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Connie Ebbersdorger, Vermillion

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Coca Cola, Sioux Falls, KSOO, KSFY, Yankton Co. Observer, Kiwanis, Yankton, SDHSCA

Family of the Year Award: Neil Nelson Family, Sioux Falls

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Ed Limke, Sioux Falls & Shirley Kucera, Lake Andes

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): Coca Cola, Sioux Falls, Jack Dellis, KSOO, KELO, Plaintalk, Elks, Sioux Falls, SDHSCA

Family of the Year Award: Ackerman Family & Tupper Family

Ron Stewart Award (Coach): Harry Michlitsch, Webster

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Dr. Charles Spencer, Vermillion

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): KELO Jacquilyn Lofgen, Sioux Falls, USD Mike Mahon

Family of the Year Award: Wirth Family 

Lyle Farrand Award (Volunteer): Eleanor Offerdahl, Vermillion

DJ Mertens Award (Business, Organization, Media): KUSD Denny Holtes, Vermillion, Argus Leader Steve Mathies