2017 SONV Volunteers of the Year

Every year, there are thousands of volunteers who dedicate their time and resources to the athletes of Special Olympics Nevada (SONV). Selecting just a few to recognize is a very difficult task.

Each of these individuals has stood out in their areas of contribution and has been nominated by their peers for their dedication, service and selfless attitudes to support our athletes. Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations and congratulations to our honorees!

Coach Volunteer of the Year


Name: Tyrel Cooper
Area: Las Vegas
Role: Track & Field, Basketball and Golf coach

From His Nominations:

“As a high school coach, Mr. Cooper shares his expertise in track and field with the Special Olympics program.  In fact, his knowledge of all sports makes him a vital asset to our Southern Nevada sports programs. Mr. Cooper coached the Level-3 basketball team, which were the 2017 Southern Nevada Regional gold medal champions. He was selected to be the Nevada head basketball coach for the upcoming Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle. He also plays an integral part in coaching our Las Vegas-area Golf 9-hole Men's Division. Mr. Cooper is very dedicated to Special Olympics; he paid for his own way to fly up and back from Reno for the SONV state track and field meet. He is a great coach with a great attitude and he connects well with our athletes.”

*Nominees included Michael Dorn, Krista Roszelle, JT Daniel, Bill Rohret, Dave Miller, George Steedle, Cynthia Schnaare, Lance Wilson, John Conatser, Phil Brown, Christina Stimka

Sports Volunteer of the Year

Name: Lori Lane Pendleton
Area: Las Vegas
Role: Office volunteer; competition volunteer for bowling, basketball and golf; fundraising volunteer

From Her Nominations:

“From coaching athletes to assisting at the office, Lori is always going above and beyond in her many roles with Special Olympics. Throughout the years, she has shown dedication and loyalty to the Special Olympics program. She excels at organization, communication, and is very detail-oriented. Lori uses her skills to ensure that the Special Olympics Texas Casino bowling program runs smoothly. She is very attentive to her athletes and is well-liked by everyone.”

*Nominees included Brenda Bowler, Debbie Dorn, Bill Rohret, Phil Brown

Philanthropy Volunteers of the Year


Name: Michael Grey
Area: Las Vegas
Role: SONV Board Member, Senior VP of Finance, Caesars Entertainment

From His Nominations:

“Michael contributed to SONV both personally and through corporate partnerships in 2017. He helped secure Caesars Palace as the site of the 2018 Las Vegas NEON Polar Plunge and is also playing a leading role in the planning, preparation and execution of the 2018 LETR International Conference in Las Vegas. He has continued to show his dedication to our athletes and is a champion for the SONV program.”


Name: Jeff Cooper
Area: Las Vegas
Role: Trustee for the Engelstad Foundation

From His Nominations:

“Jeff plays a key role in supporting Special Olympics through the Engelstad Foundation and has also dedicated his time as a volunteer. The Foundation has been dedicated to financially supporting SONV for the past three years, allowing us to grow and now support more than 3,000 athletes through the community sports program and impact 30,000+ students through the schools partnership program.”

Schools Program Volunteers of the Year


Names: Taylor Aichroth and Tami Nichols
Area: Sparks
Role: Overseers of the Unified Champion Schools Program at Reed High School

From Their Nominations:

“Taylor and Tami are dedicated, highly-effective special education teachers and advisors for Special Olympics programs at their school. They lead their student committee and work with SONV staff to plan Unified Sports events, whole-school involvement initiatives, and other opportunities for their students. They were not only instrumental in bringing the schools program to Northern Nevada, but they continue to increase their involvement with each year.  They take on new sports, new challenges, and continue to add student involvement to their events. Taylor and Tami have also helped SONV staff present at district-wide events and are always willing to lend a hand to help other schools start up.”

*Nominees included Kenneth Houston

Rookie Volunteer of the Year


Name: Lisbeth Palmer
Area: Henderson
Role: Coach for Track & Field

From Her Nominations:

“Lisbeth is a great asset to Special Olympics. She is always ready to go, helps energize the team and is always willing to assist with anything that is needed. She is a great help in the office as well and we appreciate her dedication to Special Olympics!”
*Nominees included Ian Seidenberg

Youth Volunteer of the Year


Name: Tyne Guthrie
Area: Henderson
Roles: Volunteer, Coach for Softball and Basketball

From Her Nominations:

“Tyne began her volunteering at Special Olympics by coaching the Henderson softball and basketball programs. Then, she took the initiative to plan practices independently and was very creative in her approach. Tyne has shown great skills in thinking outside of the box. She developed strong relationships with the athletes, who enjoy being around her, and she managed practices smoothly and efficiently.”

*Nominees included Andy Budnik, Keeton Lord

LETR Volunteer of the Year

Name: Steve Prentice
Area: Southern Nevada
Roles: Law Enforcement Torch Run, Nevada Department of Corrections

From His Nominations:

“Steve has worked for the Nevada Department of Corrections since 2007 and began volunteering with SONV through LETR four years ago. Since then, he has dedicated himself on getting more staff involved with the organization and has been a leader in organizing teams for multiple fundraisers, including Bowl for the Gold, Polar Plunge, and his favorite, the Torch Run on the Las Vegas Strip. Steve was voted onto the SONV Executive Committee in 2016. His first fundraising goal of $3,000 was set with Warden Williams for 2015. By 2017, the Department of Corrections team total was over $35,000. Steve would like to thank Director James Dzurenda, Deputy Director Harold Wickham, Warden Brian Williams, Officer Radke, AA Tori Valedez, Sgt. Struck , CCS III Amanda Amacker, and Officer Tony Cloke for their continued support over the years with all the events we do.”

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