2015 Ron Gustafson Inspiration Award

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2003: Rich & Olinda Olson

After learning of Olinda’s diagnosis with Lou Gehrig’s disease some 20 years ago, Rich and Olinda just dug down deeper to raise their young children. Countless hours were spent at their kids’ activities, especially if it involved basketball, since Rich is varsity girls basketball coach at Millard South. Even after she couldn’t climb the bleachers, Olinda would sit on the bottom row offering her praise and encouragement. Over time, as the disease took its toll, she became more determined to see her children grow up, graduate, get jobs, and even marry. Year after year she still makes the games sitting in her wheel chair unable to walk or speak, but she still communicates with her eyes or by mouthing the words to her interpreter. There is a lot of post-game analysis that takes place at home, and she even writes letters of instruction and encouragement to many of Rich’s players. Rich is always near by for Olinda, making sure her health services are in place, and if not, he takes care of her needs himself. Rich never complains because he admires the courage of his wife and draws inspiration from her.