Jason Mentzel & Chuck Frandsen awarded prestigious Special Olympics Wisconsin service honor
Captain Jason Mentzel of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections – Oakhill Correctional Institution and Officer Chuck Frandsen of the City of La Crosse Police Department were named respective 2022 and 2021 recipients of the Dale Brunner Hall of Fame Award.
The Dale Brunner Hall of Fame Award is bestowed upon those individuals who have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty in their efforts to enhance the Law Enforcement Torch Run in its support of the mission of Special Olympics Wisconsin. This year’s inductees were honored at the Opening Ceremony of Special Olympics Wisconsin’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Games on the campus of Carroll University in late July.
“It is incredibly fulfilling to be able to use my position as a member of the Law Enforcement family to be a part of something greater than me,” Mentzel said. “I love working with, and supporting the Athletes. Their positive outlook on life through sports is truly inspirational and rewarding.”
Captain Jason Mentzel’s involvement started in Region 4 with the Oshkosh Polar Plunge back in 2014 as a Correctional Sergeant at Oshkosh Correctional Institution (OSCI). That year he became the Special Olympics coordinator for OSCI, representing it at meetings and helping plan event routes and logistics for Region 4. In two years, Mentzel led the charge for OSCI’s t-shirt sales for the LETR Torch Run, selling nearly 300 over that span and earning a Top LETR T-shirt Sales plaque in 2016.
In that role, he truly delved into all-things Special Olympics Wisconsin including Tip-a-Cop events at Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse, and Buffalo Wild Wings; Cop on a Rooftop at Dunkin’ locations in the greater Fox Valley; numerous Polar Plunges; and several Torch Runs. He assisted with the inaugural Run with the Cops event in Oshkosh, organizing all Department of Corrections involvement and arranging an appearance from the Flight for Life helicopter.
Now with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections – Oakhill Correctional Institution, Captain Mentzel has remained committed to Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes in Region 6. He has participated in the Region 6 Meet & Greet Bowling event alongside SOWI athletes for three years and volunteered for the Oregon Hometown Games Track & Field event for four years.
Mentzel’s influence in southern Wisconsin Special Olympics is highlighted by the extension of the three latest LETR Torch Run Final Legs featuring unique 1-mile runs in Platteville, Mineral Point, Belmont, Dodgeville, Mount Horeb, and Oregon. He has co-chaired concessions at the Madison Polar Plunge for six years and, with the help of his plunging teams over the years, raised more than $20,000 for Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes.
Promotions to Lieutenant and now Captain mirrored his leadership position with Special Olympics Wisconsin, from Region 6 Committee member to Region 6 Executive Board.
“Jason is always supportive in our goals at Region 6. He tries to come to every event—fundraising or athlete-involved. He is out hoofing it in neighborhoods and businesses to hang up posters, recruiting officers & family members to become involved,” Assistant State Director & Region 6 Director Lori Casper of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office said. “He may look so serious, but he is really a big kid at heart that has chosen Special Olympics to mean something not only to him but to those around him.”
Also recognized at the Celebration Games Opening Ceremony was 2021 Dale Brunner Award winner, Charles (Chuck) Frandsen, who received his award prior.
For 22 years, Chuck Frandsen has been an active participant in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, serving as La Crosse area Polar Plunge Committee Chair and Logistics Sub-committee chair for the past 10 years. In that role, he ensures that all contracts for the site are secured including those from various city departments and vendors. Since 2013, the La Crosse Polar Plunge has raised over $1,032,000 to benefit Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes due in large part to his dedication and commitment.
In addition, Officer Frandsen has helped with numerous fundraising events like the LETR Final Leg, Cop on a Rooftop, and Tip a Cop all around the La Crosse area. He also has served as Bocce official for several years at the district tournament, developing a strong rapport with the athletes who look forward to his presence at sporting and fundraising events alike.
Events aside, one of the largest impacts Frandsen has had on furthering the mission of Special Olympics Wisconsin is the formation of the La Crosse Area LETR Committee. Prior to this time, many officers took part in the Final Leg each year but not in leadership positions. His recruitment efforts to form a regional committee netted officers from 10 departments, activating LETR engagement year-round. New departments like La Crosse County Sheriff, Town of Campbell Police, and Sparta Police found and share in the joy that Special Olympics Wisconsin gives its athletes, as he hopes to keep the La Crosse Area LETR active for years to come.
“When asked, Chuck can be counted on to help with anything and everything and his commitment to the organization is outstanding,” SOWI Volunteer and Assistant Director of City of La Crosse Parks, Recreation & Forestry Kerry Gloede said. “The City of La Crosse and Special Olympics Wisconsin is lucky to have a dedicated officer like Officer Chuck Frandsen working in our community!”
About the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Torch Run Dale Brunner Hall of Fame Award
In 1999, Special Olympics Wisconsin created the Law Enforcement Torch Run Dale Brunner Hall of Fame award, named after Wisconsin’s first LETR Director who passed away on August 12, 2014 after a courageous battle with brain cancer. Dale was instrumental in starting the LETR in Wisconsin and served as the Director from 1986 through 1999. The award was created to recognize Wisconsin’s outstanding individuals who have significantly contributed to the statewide success of the LETR. It is an honor bestowed upon those participants who have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty in their efforts to enhance the LETR in its support of the mission of Special Olympics Wisconsin.