Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC)

Special Olympics Southern California


Recognizing the 2024 Honorees

Tim Stuart
Volunteer Honoree

Tim Stuart

Tim is the ultimate volunteer. He has been supporting Special Olympic Southern California athletes as a volunteer coach, trainer, sponsor, fundraiser, referee, global messenger mentor and self-proclaimed comedian for 24 years. 19 of those years have been with Special Olympics Orange County. He currently coaches Flag Football, Basketball, Floorball and Softball with the Laguna Hills Hawks team. He has participated as a volunteer/coach in over 150 Special Olympics Southern California sporting events since 2007. He is a Certified Special Olympics sport clinician who avidly supports coaching education programs. And recently, Tim has been instrumental in growing Floorball as one of our newest sports offered throughout the Southern California footprint.

Sara Thiel
2024 Betty Belden Palmer Athlete of the Year

Sara Audrey Thiel

Special Olympics Southern California names Sara Thiel the 2024 Betty Belden Palmer Athlete of the Year. Sara is a 15 year veteran of Special Olympics and has participated in almost every sport offered. She has been a proud member of the Laguna Hills Hawks team since 2003. In 2007, Sara was a member of Team USA at Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China where she won two silver medals in track and field. Her favorite part of being an athlete is being a part of a team and experiencing the camaraderie. She is also a part of her community having worked at the Mission Viejo Pavilions for over 15 years.
Joanne Waldron

Tribute to
Joann Waldron

Joann and her son Pete learned about Special Olympics through friends who invited Pete to join the ski team. Pete represented the U.S. at the World Games in Alaska. After watching Pete win a gold medal and meeting so many other athletes, she and her friend Betty Belden decided to find ways to raise funds to help more athletes participate in the program. They launched the now annual fundraising gala and started a committee of key individuals to make the dream a reality. Since 2003, the galas have raised more than $4 million dollars. Joann’s universal message is to learn what someone can do instead of labeling them with what they can’t do. Joann was blessed with a supportive family including three sons – Pete, Mike, and Kevin. She was so proud that Pete lives independently and has a job with Fairview State Hospital and will retire soon.
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