This fall two members of law enforcement were recognized by the State of Wisconsin Legislature for their service and dedication, not only to their communities but to Special Olympics Wisconsin as well.
Specialist Niki Nelson
On October 10, Rep. Scott Allen recognized Waukesha Police Specialist Nichelle (Niki) Nelson as the recipient of the 97th Assembly District’s First Responder of the Year Award. Specialist Nelson is a long-time supporter of Special Olympics Wisconsin and currently serves as the state director for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Wisconsin.
In a press release announcing Specialist Nelson as the recipient, Rep. Allen praised Specialist Nelson and highlighted her efforts with Special Olympics Wisconsin. “It is a great honor to recognize Niki Nelson as the First Responder of the Year,” Rep. Allen said. “Her dedication and leadership as a police specialist is unrivaled. With Niki’s involvement in Special Olympics and other community outreach projects, she continues to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community. Niki makes Waukesha a better place to be on a daily basis.”
Specialist Nelson received the award at the State Capitol and the experience was a truly memorable one for her. “The First Responder of the Year Award was quite the humbling experience. To receive the award in the State Capitol with so many other First Responders will be something I will not forget. It was an honor and a privilege,” Specialist Nelson said.
“Niki makes Waukesha a better place to be on a daily basis.” – Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Allen
Specialist Nelson’s dedication to the athletes of Special Olympics Wisconsin also helped her earn a trip to Austria in 2017 to participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
Officer Bryan Wangnoss
The month after Specialist Nelson received the First Responder of the Year Award, Speaker Robin Vos presented Burlington Police Officer Bryan Wangnoss with the Hometown Hero award on November 7.
The Hometown Hero Award is the Wisconsin State Assembly’s highest civilian honor, and Officer Wangnoss was selected for his dedication to his community as a police officer and his contributions to Special Olympics Wisconsin.
“Officer Wangnoss is a great example that one person can make a big difference in the world,” Speaker Vos said in the press release announcing Officer Wangnoss’ award. “Officer Wangnoss should be commended for his work in raising awareness and funds for the Special Olympics.”
A tireless advocate for the athletes of Special Olympics Wisconsin, Officer Wangnoss was appreciative but quick to put the focus on the athletes. “The award was a truly humbling experience and I am thankful for the recognition. But like I told Speaker Vos, this is a ‘we movement’ not a ‘me movement,’” Officer Wangnoss said. “I just hope this award can help bring some recognition to Special Olympics.”
“Officer Wangnoss is a great example that one person can make a big difference in the world.” – Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
Also similar to Specialist Nelson, Officer Wangnoss’ commitment to the athletes of Special Olympics Wisconsin helped earn him a trip abroad to participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg. Earlier this year, he helped escort the torch and spread awareness for Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi prior to the 2019 Special Olympics World Games.
Never ones to rest on their laurels though, Specialist Nelson, Officer Wangnoss, and rest of the LETR are currently hard at work making sure 2020 is an even better year for Special Olympics Wisconsin.
“This year LETR and Special Olympics Wisconsin have added a Polar Plunge in Oconomowoc and we will be introducing a new challenge coin for 2020,” Specialist Nelson said. “In April, Torch Run Shirts will become available. We look forward to incorporating more Unified Events with athletes in the community and continuing our partnership with Special Olympics Wisconsin.”