Hall of Fame Challenger Award Inductee Joshua Dillon Excels in Multi-Sport Special Olympics
By Space Coast Daily // April 14, 2022
Challenger Award Inductee Joshua Dillon with Special Olympics Brevard
ABOVE VIDEO: 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.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame selection committee announced the induction of both the 2020 and 2021 classes will take place on Friday, May 13 at the Cocoa Beach Country Club. The induction of both classes were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS
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.
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.
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.
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!
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS
CLICK HERE TO SEE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame selection committee announced the induction of both the 2020 and 2021 classes will take place on Friday, May 13 at the Cocoa Beach Country Club. The induction of both classes were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The festivities include a Meet and Greet with the area’s sports royalty beginning at 6 p.m., and the dinner and induction proceeding will start at 6:45 p.m. and includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.
The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event will also include the Brevard County High School Breakfast of Champions recognition awards, which will be held Friday, May 13 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., also at the Cocoa Beach Country Club, to kick off morning and evening events honoring the area’s outstanding athletes, coaches, administrators and sports celebrities.
The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner will be held on the evening of May 13, with a Meet and Greet at 6 p.m. and dinner and program at 7 p.m. The Meet and Greet will include an opportunity to talk with the area’s sports royalty, followed by dinner and the induction proceeding, which includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.
During the Breakfast of Champions, more than 40 awards will be presented to the best of the best student-athletes.
Businesses and individuals looking to support these outstanding youth and prep athletes can sponsor an award for $500 and includes recognition during the awards event and in the program.
As a sponsor, an invitation will be extended to you and up to four guests to join the festivities for the breakfast. You’ll be seated with the recipient of your award and their family, which is a great chance to meet these talented athletes and get to know them on a personal level. For information about the Brevard County Breakfast of Champions call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com.
Both the Breakfast of Champions and the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame events will be streamed live on Space Coast Daily TV.
The 2020–2021 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event, and the Brevard County 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.
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS to the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. For information e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com or call 321-615-8111.
INDUCTEES SELECTED IN FOUR CATEGORIES
Dozens of nominees were considered for the 2020 and 2021 classes in several categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports.
Nominees are chosen in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports. Special honorary recognition is also bestowed upon individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2021:
■ PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEE: Amber Torrealba, Skimboarding; Randy Pobst, Auto racing
■ COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Lynisha Nelson, Basketball; Bryan Cook, Baseball; Steve Freeman, Soccer
■ PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Julie Wollrath, Cross Country; Kaira Simmons, Track & Field; Cameron Harris, Jr., Football
■ AMATEUR/RECREATION CATEGORY INDUCTEE: Alli Penovich, Free Diving
■ COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Lee Mace, Football; Jim Oler, Basketball
■ SPORTS OFFICIAL INDUCTEE: Klaus Stafe
■ SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEE: Capt. Eric Ciocher
■ SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE: Charles Clemente
■ LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEE: Larry Garrison
■ SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE: Rusty Buchanan
■ CHALLENGER AWARD INDUCTEE: Jordan Episcopo
■ TEAM OF THE YEAR: Astronaut High School Bowling
■ LEGACY CHAMPIONS: Merritt Island Baseball, 1999-2000
■ SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Fred Gay
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS TO THE INDUCTION CEREMONY
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE 2021 INDUCTEES PROFILES
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 Country 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 DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE: Judge A.B. Majeed
• SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE: Congressman Bill Posey
• CHALLENGER AWARDS INDUCTEES: Brevard Special Olympics
• TEAM OF THE YEAR: Satellite High Cross Country
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE 2020 INDUCTEES PROFILES
Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and has so far inducted more than 200 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
Serving on the committee are Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo, Partner Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, the Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, Sports Editor Juan Rodriguez, Social Media Director Matt O’Hern, Assistant Editor Jordan Rocco, Digital Producers Ron Lighthall, Gavin Keith and Michael Malone, Production Director Brian Dillon, Sports Broadcaster Daryl Durand and Amateur Athletic Union President Rusty Buchanan.
The main athletic building on the Melbourne Campus hosts the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, as portraits 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.
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS TO THE INDUCTION CEREMONY
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tim Wakefield talks about his induction into the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame. Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and has so far inducted more than 200 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.