The Special Olympics New Jersey (S.O.N.J.) honored individuals and groups for their dedication and commitment to the mission of the Special Olympics at their annual awards dinner at the Westin Princeton on Nov. 16. Among those honored was Thomas Gutierrez of Bayonne, who was named the 2012 Outstanding Athlete of the Year in Summer Sports. Gutierrez has been involved with the S.O.N.J. for nearly 25 years, competing year-round in a variety of sports. His success in aquatics earned him this honor.
Gutierrez has served as captain of the Bayonne Recreation Program swim team for the past 10 years. As captain, he motivates his teammates and helps them find ways to continually improve. For his dedication to sport and his commitment to the success of the team, he is respected by his teammates and coaches.
The Athlete of the Year in Summer Sports Award is reserved for a Special Olympics athlete who has shown determination, dedication to training, and increased proficiency in a qualifying summer sport.
S.O.N.J. provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in 24 Olympic-type sports for more than 22,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continued opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Visit www.sonj.org for more information.