For the Chiefs December 13, 2018, game against the San Diego Chargers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the Chiefs selected John Lair, President and CEO of Special Olympics Kansas (SOKS) as the Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion. Prior to kickoff, Lair received on-field recognition and conducted the ceremonial first pass to Tony Adams before touring the Chiefs broadcast booth and enjoying the game.
"I am extremely humbled to be honored as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion," said Lair, President and CEO of SOKS. "This is a great opportunity for others to hear about the rich experiences that Special Olympics can bring to their lives. To be recognized for doing what I love hopefully will inspire others to follow their dreams."
With involvement in the organization dating back to his college days at Pittsburg State University, Lair has served as a volunteer with SOKS for more than 22 years. Certified as a coach in 16 different sports, he not only has served locally but also has traveled to three World Games and three U.S. Games throughout his tenure.
"John Lair's dedication to serving the intellectually disabled community is inspiring," said Christina Lively, Blue KC's Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "His passion for this population has led him to make a difference in the lives of so many children and adults through Special Olympics Kansas, and we are proud to honor him as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion."
Throughout his time as a volunteer, Lair has received high praise locally and nationally for his ability to make a positive impact as a coach. Among his many awards, Lair was named the Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year in 2014, and in 2016 was given both the American Health Care Association Intellectual Disability/Development Disability Hero of the Year and the Pittsburg State University Outstanding Alumni awards.
"It's important to advocate for a population who is sometimes unable to speak out for themselves," said Lair, who also has served on the Board of Directors for SOKS and the Kansas Law Enforcement Torch Run, which benefits the organization. "The Special Olympics athletes have far given me more than I could ever give back to them."
Lair was nominated as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion by his wife, MeLinda, who has enjoyed watching her husband work to make the community a better place for the intellectually disabled.
"John has a unique way of making everyone feel special," said MeLinda. "Not only does he have a great sense of adventure, he also has an extremely loving heart, and it truly shows in the way he lives his life. I have seen firsthand how his Special Olympic athletes look at him and are motivated by his words. People young and old gravitate to him, and he receives them with open arms. It's truly amazing."
To nominate a local hero like John Lair to be recognized as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion, visit chiefs.com/bluekc.