Hall of Fame Challenger Award Inductee Joshua Dillon Excels in Multi-Sport Special Olympics

By  //  May 18, 2020

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Challenger Award Inductee Joshua Dillon with Special Olympics Brevard

Athletes who participate in Special Olympics come in all ages, ethnicities, and economic and social backgrounds, which leads us to this inspiring story about our 2020 Challenger category honoree. Other than epilepsy, Josh Dillon is a physical specimen and an exceptional athlete.

Many competitions, ribbons, medals, and two brain surgeries later, Josh Dillon has refused to allow regular-occurring seizures to slow him down.  He is an inspiration to anyone who comes into contact with him, leaving a smile on their faces, and joy in their hearts.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Special Olympics Florida offers athletes a fair opportunity to develop and demonstrate their skills and talents through sports training and competition, and by increasing the public’s awareness of their capabilities and needs.

Intellectual disability does not discriminate.

Athletes who participate in Special Olympics come in all ages, ethnicities, and economic and social backgrounds, which leads us to this inspiring story about our 2020 Challenger category honoree.

Joshua Dillon arrived in this world perfectly healthy and strong in August of 1999, full of fire and determination, participating in all the normal activities for a young American boy.

A family friend informed Josh’s parents about Special Olympics Brevard, telling about all the local opportunities for competition, and for fellowship with other Special Olympic athletes and families. Above, Brian Dillon, far left, with his son Josh, second from left.

But one tragic day in January 2006 changed all of that, forever as Josh’s parents received a phone call from Manatee Elementary alerting them that Josh was having multiple seizures and was in transit to the hospital.

After weeks of seizures, testing, and intubation, it was determined that he had contracted West Nile virus, which led to his brain swelling so much that uncontrollable seizures would not stop occurring.

By the time the swelling subsided, Joshua’s brain had “learned” to have seizures, and he was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy, with permanent brain damage.

He experienced all the same things you or I may feel in this horrid situation; fear, depression, anger, physical pain, but he refused to allow that defeat him.

This is where Joshua’s inborn fire and determination would take over.

Despite his regularly-occurring seizures, he resumed school and church activities, and continued to play Little League and Upwards basketball until he aged out.  But as his teen years began, Josh was feeling more and more isolated, and spending more and more time on the couch.

This Unified Sports program allows normal developing students to interact, compete with, and mentor athletes with intellectual disabilities, creating camaraderie, leadership skills, and lifelong friendships.
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Other than epilepsy, Josh is a physical specimen and an exceptional athlete.

A family friend informed Josh’s parents about Special Olympics Brevard, telling about all the local opportunities for competition, and for fellowship with other Special Olympic athletes and families.

One Saturday morning, Josh showed up at a track and field practice, led by Coach Bob Rall, Coach Randy Butcher, and many other dedicated volunteers; his heart and his face lit up!

He went on to compete in the 1x100m sprint, and the long jump, placing first in both events.

The following year, Joshua’s athletic endeavors would take off, as he entered Viera High School.

Viera’s Special Ed department had one of the best teachers in Florida, Santana Huppe, who also headed up Viera High’s Special Olympics Unified Sports program.

This Unified Sports program allows normal developing students to interact, compete with, and mentor athletes with intellectual disabilities, creating camaraderie, leadership skills, and lifelong friendships.

Many competitions, ribbons, medals, and two brain surgeries later, Josh has refused to allow regular-occurring seizures to slow him down.  He is an inspiration to anyone who comes into contact with him, leaving a smile on their faces, and joy in their hearts.

Santana and her husband Paul would convince Josh to come out and participate in Special Olympics Unified Team Sports year-round.  Josh would excel like never before, winning many events and making many good friends along the way!

In the passing years since, Josh has actively participated in track, basketball, volleyball, bowling, softball, swimming, golf, football  – you name it, Josh has conquered it.

Many competitions, ribbons, medals, and two brain surgeries later, Josh has refused to allow regular-occurring seizures to slow him down.  He is an inspiration to anyone who comes into contact with him, leaving a smile on their faces, and joy in their hearts.

Joshua is indeed the epitome of the Special Olympics motto: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”  Josh is brave, and he is a winner!

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FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-323-4460 or 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com

CLICK HERE TO SEE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME

The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame is located in the main athletic building on the Melbourne Campus of Eastern Florida State College. Portraits and biographies of the Hall of Famers are displayed on the wall in the building’s main hallway that runs parallel to the gym and outside the athletic department offices. Memorabilia items and related sports artifacts will be added to the display over time.

The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame selection committee announced an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2020 Class of the Hall of Fame.

The 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Sports Awards, originally scheduled for Friday, May 8 at the Cocoa Beach Country Club, has been postponed due to COVID-19 and a new date will be announced by May 15.

The festivities include a meet and greet with the area’s sports royalty and the dinner and induction proceeding will start at 6:45 p.m. and includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.

The 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event, and the 2020 High School Breakfast of Champions recognition awards, are sponsored by Health First, Erdman Automotive, All Points, Clear Choice Health Care, Savings Safari, Friday Night Locker Room and Rock Paper Simple.

The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame includes an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2020 Class of the Hall of Fame.

Dozens of nominees were considered in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports.

Special honorary recognition will also be bestowed upon individuals and teams that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.

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Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and has so far inducted more than 160 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.

Serving on the committee are Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, the Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, former Health First COO Larry Garrison and Amateur Athletic Union Vice President Rusty Buchanan.

“The list of inductees for 2020 induction include athletes and coaches everybody knows – and some that may have been forgotten with the passing of time,” said Tom Palermo.

FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, or to make a reservation, e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com or call 321-615-8111.

SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tim Wakefield talks about his induction into the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.

SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2020

• PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Jamel Dean, Football; Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Wrestling; Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Football; Mark Lake, Skateboarding; Juwaan Taylor, Football

• COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Derek Hamm, Football; Paulette King, Basketball; Dylan Lewis, Soccer; Melanie Murphy, Softball

• PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Lexy Denaburg, Volleyball; Apryl Bigham Nickson, Swimming; Andi Sellers, Soccer

• AMATEUR/RECREATION CATEGORY INDUCTEE: Peter Blount, Track & Field; Karina Villegas, Sled Hockey; Caylor Williams, Wrestling

• COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Sean Ballard, Wrestling; Doug Butler, Cross County and Track; Aubin Goporo, Basketball; Gerald Hodgin, Football; Bill Sinclair, Softball; Don Smith, Basketball

• SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE: Loren McClanahan

• LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEE: Clint Hurdle

• SPORTS OFFICIAL INDUCTEES: Ted Ruta

• SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEES: Steve Vaughn

• SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE: Congressman Bill Posey

• CHALLENGER AWARDS INDUCTEES: Brevard Special Olympics

• TEAM OF THE YEAR: 2019 Satellite High Cross Country

• LEGACY CHAMPIONS: TBA

• SPECIAL TRIBUTE: TBA

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME

CLICK HERE FOR BREVARD COUNTY NEWS

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