Morgan honored for volunteer work

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kenneth “K.E.” Morgan receives an award as Volunteer of the Year for Area 29 of Special Olympics Virginia from Mike Barnette, Virginia Farm Bureau insurance agent.

By Titus Mohler


A Suffolk man has been honored by the Virginia Farm Bureau for his work with the local chapter of Special Olympics Virginia.

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Kenneth “K.E.” Morgan received the Farm Bureau Advantage Award, which recognizes him as the Volunteer of the Year for the local area chapter of Special Olympics Virginia.

Virginia Farm Bureau is the annual recognition partner of Special Olympics Virginia. Officials made the presentation during the Special Olympics Tidewater Regional basketball tournament at Virginia Wesleyan College late last month.

Morgan, who expressed gratitude to the Virginia Farm Bureau, said he was excited and humbled by the honor.

“When you get recognized by your peers as being Volunteer of the Year for an organization like we have here in Suffolk, yeah, (it means) a lot,” Morgan said. “Everybody that’s in this is deserving. I was just very fortunate to be able to get it this year.”

K.E. and his wife Kathleen both serve on the council, which is like a board of directors for the Area 29 chapter, and they both also serve as swim coaches for the special needs swim team.

“Suffolk really has a pretty substantial program,” Morgan explained. “We were even considered the fastest-rising Special Olympics program in the state.”

Area 29 offers Special Olympics opportunities in swimming, school-based track and field, tennis, volleyball, power-lifting, golf, and soon softball. The program has even taken kids to national events for power-lifting and golf.

As part of the council, Morgan and his wife are instrumental in the planning for Area 29 and in the fundraising efforts that keep the program running.

“We work strictly off of donations,” Morgan said. “Any special-needs child that’s in our program does not pay anything.”

Several major companies contribute to the program. Morgan said the YMCA has been especially generous.

Morgan had served for eight years on the board of a running club called Tidewater Striders. This experience prepared him for the administrative skills required to serve the Area 29 council effectively.

“I’m involved basically because my wife was involved,” he said. “She was the one who set the spark that got us going, and I was just fortunate enough to be able to … come along.”

When she was in high school, Morgan’s wife Kathleen worked for Hope House, a special needs home, so helping children with disabilities has been a mission of hers for years.

Both of them were swimmers and runners and knew people involved with Special Olympics. As a result of these circumstances, they were able to be involved in the founding of Area 29, which spun off from another chapter.

“If you’ve ever been involved with special needs athletes, you’ll find out where the drive comes [from],” Morgan said. “We’re awful glad to be able to do what little we can do to give them the opportunity to succeed.”

Area 29 has a year-around schedule of events, which includes four meets, including the summer games in Richmond and an event in Suffolk. The organization is always looking for new volunteers.