KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Today, during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman presented the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award to Special Olympics coach Stephen “Jerome” Thomas and elementary school volunteer Ann “Jeanette” Lutz.

Governor Scott said, “It is an honor to present the Champion of Service Award to Jerome and Jeanette for their dedication to selflessly serving families in Central Florida. Jerome and Jeanette go above and beyond to empower and encourage those they work with, and serve as an inspiration to us all.”

Stephen “Jerome” Thomas is a certified coach in basketball, volleyball, bowling and golf, in addition to coaching five other sports. Jerome has been described as the epitome of a coach, thanks to his unselfish dedication to the athletes of Special Olympics in Orange County. Thanks to the efforts of this big-hearted coach, more athletes and volunteers are getting involved with Special Olympics. In the past year, Jerome has recruited six new coaches. Jerome is also a role model to other parents because he believes in Special Olympics and is willing to give of his time and talent. Following Jerome’s good example of fair play, fun and pride for the athletes, other parents are more excited and willing to assist when called upon. The Special Olympics credits the organization’s growth and enthusiasm to the dedication of coaches like Jerome, who has volunteered with the organization for nine years.

Ann “Jeanette” Lutz is a retired businesswoman in Orlando and spends at least 25 hours every week dedicated to improving the lives of students at Rock Springs Elementary in Orange County. While she helps in many areas of the school, she spends most of her time at the Media Center helping children find and check out books they are interested in, while also helping struggling readers overcome their obstacles. She has also consistently tutored students and started a tutoring group in a low-income neighborhood, where she recruited four other volunteers to mentor 15 elementary students.

Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman said, “These volunteers have proven their longstanding commitment to the causes they are passionate about. They are a shining example of the 3.2 million Floridians who volunteer their time and talent every year to make Florida’s communities stronger.”

The Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award honors individuals and groups for their outstanding volunteer efforts. For more information about the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Awards, click here.

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Volunteer Florida, the Governor’s Commission on Community Service, was established in 1994 by the Florida Legislature to administer grants under the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. The Commission grants funds to Florida AmeriCorps and National Service programs; coordinates volunteers and donations in a disaster; and inspires all Floridians to serve their communities. For more information, visit: www.volunteerflorida.org.