MISSION — Less than a year since he moved to work at his dream job in Mission, Special Olympics Kansas President and CEO John Lair received a “Local Hero Award.”

Lair is a Pittsburg native and former volunteer Special Olympics coach who coached the New Hope Bulldogs in Pittsburg.

“I truly enjoyed my time in Pittsburg,” he said. “It was a big change to come up here, but Pittsburg will always be my home.”

A year ago, the Kansas Special Olympics Program was $250,000 in the red, since Lair’s involvement the program is now back in the black.

Because of his efforts he was awarded the Local Hero Award from Ingram’s of Kansas City.

“His extreme commitment and dedication to Special Olympics has truly made him a local hero,” a release said.

Lair said he was surprised to have received the award, especially since he has been around less than a year.

“I feel welcomed here,” he said. “I feel great.”

Lair said when he arrived, a few changes had to be made to help the success of Special Olympics Kansas.
“I just pushed them to the next level,” he said. “They’ve all been really awesome to work with.”

Grants helped get the program back into the black, Lair said.
“We started looking at grants,” he said. “It’s really helped us be where we needed to be.”
Lair said he holds the athletes close to his heart, which inspires him to keep up the good work.

“They keep me motivated,” he said.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.