Yankton Special Olympics is pleased to announce that our volunteer of the year is James Duke.
James has been involved in Special Olympics since January of 2000, when his son Kyle began to participate in Special Olympics. James had learned quickly that he had a passion for the athletes to succeed in sports and their personal lives. He also discovered how much he enjoyed working collaboratively with the other volunteers in the Special Olympics program.
James has shown a great deal of pride in watching the Yankton Special Olympics program grow while he has volunteered. He has had many experiences and tasks while being involved in Special Olympics. James is not just a spectator, volunteer and coach in Yankton, he is also the right hand man of the Head of Delegation, which currently is his wife, Sheri Duke. James helps Sheri with organization of supplies for the athletes for sporting events. He has assisted with set up and clean up, as well as assisting in running local and state fundraisers. He has volunteered his time and talent during the Polar Plunge, which was held in Yankton for several years. He has also assisted with the Amazing Race Fundraiser that benefits local Yankton athletes for the last few years and helped with Bash to the Colonies to raise money for the state and the local Yankton Special Olympics group.
James is an intricate part of the brainstorming group, which discuss new ideas to help the organization and athletes prosper and grow. James has demonstrated that he has a vested interest in seeing the program succeed as well as the athletes, not just on a sporting level, but also on a personal level.
While doing all of these volunteer tasks James has also been coaching teams in any sport offered through Yankton Special Olympics. James coaches wherever he is needed. James has coached skills for basketball, assisted with Unified basketball, assisted with Junior athlete basketball and also coached several teams with varying levels which have done well enough to place and win medals frequently. He has coached softball teams that include Unified players, tee ball and all levels of play that have also been successful and won medals. James has assisted with coaching swimming events, Bocce ball, volleyball and soccer. He was also chosen and had he opportunity to assist coaching a South Dakota softball team and participated in the National Special Olympics Tournament in July of 2018 in Seattle, WA.
Without James, the Yankton Special Olympics program would be incomplete. It would take several additional volunteers to fill the roles that James does. He has been an irreplaceable asset to the Special Olympics group Yankton, the athletes and the volunteers.