Todd Youngblood

Daily Point of Light # 3710 Apr 23, 2008

Todd Youngblood is an inspiration to everyone at Special Olympics Georgia. He is a volunteer coach, certified to work with athletes in 10 sports; he has served as Local Coordinator for the athletes in Peach County, GA for three years, served on the Area Management Team and State Games Management Team for State Indoor Winter Games as Co-Director of the Powerlifting Event for five years. Todd started the Powerlifting team at the Kay Community Service Center for individuals with intellectual disabilities in 1995 and has taken his team, which has grown from 3 to 22, to meets and competitions all over the Southeast. He has served as assistant organizer of the Special Olympics Southeast Regional Powerlifting Competition in which athletes with intellectual disabilities from 5-7 states compete. He has taken his athletes to IPBF Competitions, the Georgia Games and Powerlifting Competitions in Alabama and Tennessee. On other occasions he has chaperoned his athletes at snow skiing competitions in North Carolina, National Volleyball Competition in Louisiana and attended the 1st ever Special Olympics National Games in Ames, IA in July.

Special Olympics meets a very real community need—it improves the health of this population, decreasing the likelihood of obesity. It provides a safe arena for peer interaction and socialization, which is very important for this group because they have no opportunities to join community sports leagues or play on a team. It highlights the individuals’ abilities instead of their disabilities and it leads to employment opportunities. The impact of Todd's work is demonstrated by his athletes having been chosen as "Athlete of the Year" at the Special Olympics Georgia Distinguished Service Banquet for the past 3 years in a row. Special Olympics Georgia has over 22,000 athletes participating so Todd has been the motivating factor in his athletes receiving these honors. Todd feels it is important to recognize these individuals for their hard work and dedication to self-improvement. Skills learned in sports training and competition carry over into all areas of the athletes lives improving performance in school, on the job and in independent living situations. Not only is Todd a mentor and role model to his athletes and the individuals at Kay Center but he truly their friend—looking out for their well-being and promoting their abilities on and off the field. Todd's efforts have been recognized by many awards. His approach is innovative because he doesn't stop at venues where individuals with special needs are accepted but pushes them to compete in the Georgia Games and USA National Volleyball Competition against athletes without disabilities.

All of Todd's work with Special Olympics—coaching, serving on management teams, organizing competitions, attending competitions in Atlanta and out of state—is voluntary. He also serves on the Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors, Past Director of Kiwanis Club, Action Clulb Advisor and teaches and coaches basketball at Peach County High School.