Keith L. Fishburne, President and CEO of Special Olympics North Carolina, has been selected as the 2010 recipient of the William C. Friday Award, presented by the Class of 2010 Park Scholars at NC State University. Mr. Fishburne will be honored for his efforts to improve the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities at a special event at the NC State McKimmon Center on Wednesday, March 24, 6:00 pm, where he will present a talk on his work with Special Olympics North Carolina.
Fishburne has worked with Special Olympics North Carolina for over 20 years. Special Olympics North Carolina currently has more than 38,000 registered athletes who participate in 100 local programs serving every county in the state. Fishburne aspires to build the program so that it can reach as many as possible of the approximate 200,000 individuals in the state who are intellectually disabled.
Under Fishburne’s leadership, the organization has move beyond the state to create global partnerships. In 2008, Special Olympics North Carolina was selected by Special Olympics Inc. as the host for Nalin Kumar, a physiotherapist from India. Kumar was one of five individuals representing developing nations chosen to participate in the first Eunice Kennedy Shriver (EKS) Fellowship Program. Kumar returned to his home country with the intention of using the North Carolina model to enhance the Special Olympics Bharat. “The teamwork here, it is like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” says Kumar.
Fishburne’s leadership and dedication to service made him a natural choice for this year’s William C. Friday Award. Natalie Cooke ‘10, chair of the selection committee for the award, said, “Mr. Fishburne is a well-deserving recipient of the award. He exemplifies Mr. Friday’s lifelong commitment to service, and our class was inspired by his dedication to leading the state’s efforts to serve so many special athletes across North Carolina. We are excited that Mr. Fishburne will join us on March 24 to share his journey and his advice to us as we prepare to leave NC State and pursue passions of our own in service to others.”
Upon accepting the award, Fishburne said, “I am very grateful for being selected by the students in the Park Scholarship program for the William C. Friday Award. I have the utmost respect for NC State University, the Park Scholars and Mr. Friday so to be recognized in the name of each is truly an honor.”
The William C. Friday Award is an annual honor presented by the senior class of Park Scholars on behalf of the entire program. This award honors Friday’s dedication and excellence in leadership, scholarship, character and service, and recognizes the awardee’s contributions to North Carolina. Past recipients include Mr. Friday, NC State Chancellor Emeritus Larry Monteith, General Hugh Shelton, noted historian John Hope Franklin, and SAS leaders Ann and Jim Goodnight.
Special Olympics is dedicated to providing children and adults with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to become useful and productive citizens in their communities. The organization’s mission is to provide sports training and athletic competitions. These competitions consist of annual local, area and state championships, along with national and world games events, which takes place every four years.