Annual Awards

The Distinguished Service Awards given by Special Olympics Iowa provide a unique and important opportunity to recognize outstanding members of the SOIA community. These individuals embody the dedication, enthusiasm and ambition Special Olympics is known for.

Award Categories

The Des Moines Register Sports Awards (Including Unified Team of the Year, Male Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year): Nominees for the All-Iowa Elite Athletes Team presented by The Des Moines Register award category epitomize the spirit of a true winner in displaying the highest level of courage, sportsmanship, concern for others, training and competition.

Athlete of the Year: An individual award given to the athlete who epitomizes the spirit of a true winner by his or her willingness to help others and who also gives his or her best while displaying outstanding courage and sportsmanship.

Coach of the Year: For the coach in any official Special Olympics sport who best demonstrates the high degree of technical skill, commitment and compassion needed to motivate and train athletes for competition and life.

Knights of Columbus Award: Ed Lehner, on behalf of the Knights of Columbus, stepped forward to lead a critical fundraising effort for Special Olympics Iowa at a difficult time in our nation’s economy and SOIA funding. Nominees for this award exemplify the dedication and unselfish efforts associated with the true spirit of Special Olympics.

Outstanding Family of the Year: For the family who has made unique and lasting contributions to the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities through SOIA and who also has at least one family member who is a Special Olympics athlete.

Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year: The Outstanding Adult Volunteer will be at least 19 years of age, and serve to improve the Special Olympics Iowa Experience at the local, area and state level.

Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year: The Outstanding Youth Volunteer will be 18 years of age or younger, and serve to improve the Special Olympics Iowa Experience at the local, area and state level. This volunteer will have a strong sense of commitment to SOIA and its future.


You are invited to nominate those individuals and groups from the categories above who have made significant contributions or who have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to Special Olympics Iowa. Winners will be recognized at the Special Olympics Iowa State Summer Games held annually in May.

Nomination Form