The Special Olympics of Pennsylvania recently named an athlete who participates in the Bethlehem Special Olympics program the Male Athlete of the Year.
Nathan Boyle of Freemansburg received the honor during the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania Leadership Conference Banquet in Harrisburg on Sept. 8.
“Each year we honor some of our finest volunteers, supporters and athletes,” said Matthew Aaron, president, SOPA. “They are true leaders in our program and we are blessed with their unyielding passion for our mission of changing lives through sports.”
Boyle loves Special Olympics competition and participates in many sports. He rarely misses a practice or competition and trains throughout the entire year. While he does not speak many words, his actions embody the real meaning of Special Olympics.
For example, at Fall Festival last November at Villanova University, a fellow soccer player was unable to play due to a paperwork mix-up but was allowed to stay during the competition and cheer the team on. When the team was awarded a silver medal, without hesitation, Boyle gave his medal to his fellow athlete. Everyone who witnessed this was touched by this act, including the athlete who was unable to play.
Boyle’s enthusiasm for Special Olympics is contagious. When an athlete or a volunteer is feeling down, he is usually the first to go over and offer a smile and hug. He also participates in fundraisers and always offers to help carry items or load and unload cars at events.
You can’t walk by without getting a “high five” from him. In addition, he is a member of his program’s Athlete Advisory Committee – a team of athletes that provide valuable input to the program. Because he is quiet, his accomplishments are often overlooked, but he is one athlete that you can count on at every event.
SOPA Leadership Award recipients were chosen by a statewide panel of business and community leaders representing both the private and nonprofit sectors. Nominations come from local Special Olympics programs throughout Pennsylvania. The event is part of a yearly Leadership Conference designed to provide ongoing training and recognition for Special Olympics athletes and volunteers.