At this year’s Summer Games, Special Olympics welcomed four new members to the Board of Directors. On June 7, Marquis Garner, Lois Harrison, Mark Nicholson and Joel Wener attended their first board meeting in Stevens Point.
Special Olympics Wisconsin Athlete
Marquis Garner has been involved in Special Olympics for over 17 years. In addition to his involvement as an athlete, Garner has also been a spokesperson for Special Olympics as an athlete leader, as he is a trained Global Messenger and has served on the Athlete Input Council.
Garner wanted to become a member of the Board of Directors to “make a difference in the lives of individuals, like myself, with disabilities and emphasize the importance of equal right opportunities to individuals with disabilities.”
Garner looks forward to giving an athlete’s perspective while serving on the board through sharing his “thoughts and opinions on living with a disability, and [his] experiences on representing Special Olympics in a positive way.”
“I will… wholeheartedly devout my heart and soul to the board of directors,” Garner said. That said, we’re thrilled to welcome Garner and his perspective to the Board of Directors.
Associate Professor of Physical Therapy
Lois Harrison is currently an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at Concordia University Wisconsin and has been actively involved with Special Olympics for the past 16 years as clinical co-director for Wisconsin’s FUNFitness program.
In addition to her involvement with Special Olympics, Harrison has also volunteered at The Gathering as well as at the Labrador Education and Rescue Network (L.E.A.R.N.).
Harrison previously served on the Board of Directors for the non-profit organization Serve Others First, where she also held the role of Volunteer Coordinator.
“I have a special interest in the areas of health and wellness, especially for the underserved populations,” Harrison said. Her background in education and the medical field will prove to be an important point of view to have on the board.
Tomah Police Department Chief of Police
Mark Nicholson has been with the Tomah Police Department since 1989 and has been the Chief of Police since 2013. He is also a member of several organizations, such as the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association and the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Executive Development Assocation.
Nicholson is very involved in his surrounding community. He has been on the Board of Directors for the Tomah Boys and Girls Club as well as the Tomah Youth Soccer Association. Nicholson has also volunteered with various organizations throughout Tomah and Monroe Country as a representation of law enforcement support.
“Law enforcement has been and will continue to play a significant role in Special Olympics programs and fundraising,” Nicholson said. “As a law enforcement representative on the board, I would like to be able to assist and provide input on how we, as a law enforcement community, can promote and organize those activities better.”
Nicholson believes that his involvement will help others in his department and other law enforcement agencies to join him in participating in Special Olympics events. We look forward to insight that Nicholson will bring to the board.
Pepin County Sheriff
Joel Wener has been the Sheriff of the Pepin County Sheriff’s Office for the past four years. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Sheriff for 18 years. Through these roles, Wener “strive[s] to be a servant leader within Pepin County.”
Wener stays involved with his community though volunteering at the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross as well as with Special Olympics Wisconsin.
He was also an active leader in organizing and hosting his local leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. In past years, Wener has participated in other Special Olympics events such as the Polar Plunge, Cop on a Rooftop, Tip-a-Cop events and the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Games.
“I want to continue to bring to the forefront how special the athletes are [and] what they continue to accomplish on a daily basis,” Wener said. With the longstanding relationship between law enforcement and Special Olympics, we’re pleased to have Wener join the board.
Garner, Harrison, Nicholson and Wener are among 21 other members that make up Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Board of Directors. Board members have backgrounds in various industries such as media, finance, marketing, health care and law enforcement.