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Aurora man wins local hero award for coaching

Mike Younie nominated for Our Town Our Heroes award. Submitted photo

Mike Younie, nominated for Our Town, Our Heroes award. Submitted photo

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Updated: August 26, 2012 6:05AM

AURORA — Mike Younie, an Aurora man known for his work with Special Olympics, has been named the winner of an Our Town, Our Heroes contest sponsored by General Motors.

His online win means he’ll get to drive a new Chevy for a week — and throw out the first pitch at a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

The monthly program this time was dedicated to inspirational coaches and mentors. Younie received 325 of 837 votes cast on, beating out four other contestants.

Younie is a senior manager for the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association, where he coaches and helps coordinate transportation for athletes. Younie has been at FVSRA since 2003, working with mentally disabled athletes. He has coached Special Olympians on the national level and went to the 2011 Special Olympics World Games in Greece. Younie has also coached athletes and coaches in proper technique and strategies.

“Mike exemplifies the best of Special Olympics,” said Jen Clark, a fellow coach who nominated him for the award. “He is kind and gracious with his athletes and strives daily to teach and coach them to their fullest potential. Mike works tirelessly to give athletes quality experiences to enrich their lives.”

Both Younie and Clark will receive a one-week loan of a new Chevrolet vehicle, a full tank of gas and $500 in gift cards. In addition, Chevrolet is rewarding Younie’s coaching efforts by sending him to an Aug. 1 Chicago Cubs game, where he will throw out the first pitch.

“The stories we received of coaches and mentors in Illinois like Mike blew us away this month,” said Brian Goebel, General Motors North Central Region Communications Manager. “We’re honored to recognize a local coach such as Mike who does so much for the young athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.”

Aurora police officer Jesse Torres and Norris “Doc” Erickson, commander of Roosevelt-Aurora American Legion Post 84 in Aurora, both were previous winners in the same contest.

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