Athletes 'wow' audience at Speakers Contest

posted Sat, Feb 21, 2015 by Jon Buzby

Sasha Hudson (Sussex Riptide) accepts his first-place certificate from Cristol Johnson, left, and Lynn Marie DeVaughn. Hudson was one of 14 participants in the SODE Speakers Contest, held Feb. 21.

Jordan Little (Kent Wild Kats) placed second in the contest.

David McElrath (Wilmington Wizards) placed third.

DOVER -- It didn't take long for those in attendance at the Special Olympics Delaware Athlete Speaker Contest to realize the speakers they were attentively listening to were well spoken, polished and entertaining.

The event was the culminating program for 14 speakers representing all five Areas who had been honing their skills during the past several months as part of the Toastmasters training. Each speaker entered this special training having already graduated from the basic Communicate with Confidence course and all of them had experience making public speeches of different lengths to a variety of audiences promoting Special Olympics and how it's made a difference in his or her life.

But these speeches were different.

The athletes' speeches were developed specifically for this competition. Veteran Toastmasters trainers helped athletes formulate ideas, develop their speeches, and then work on delivery to stay within the mandated length of two to three minutes. 

Toastmasters trainers included Jenn Brant, Lynn Marie De Vaughn, Scott Howard, Cristol Johnson and Carol Sawczuk.

"We can't thank our trainers enough for working tirelessly with our athletes to provide them with the skill, motivation and inspiration to find their voice ... and to know that their voice matters," SODE executive director Ann Grunert said.

Each participant was "graded" by a panel of veteran speech judges using the same system Toastmasters International uses during its contests. Special recognition was given for first, second and third place, with all speakers receiving a certificate of participation.

"All of the speakers should be proud of their accomplishments today," chief judge Carmen Lee Pow told the audience before announcing the top three.

Sasha Hudson captured first place for his speech, "Run out of My Shoes," during which he shared his experiences participating in his favorite sport -- track and field.

Second place went to Jordan Little, whose "Home Run" speech told the story of playing on Delaware's baseball team at the 2014 USA Games. David McElrath's "Loyalty and Confidence" speech took third.

View the photos here  

Other speakers in order of presentation included:
(Click on the name to view individual video)

Tyler Kennedy - "Go the Distance"

Antonio Bowe - "Running with the Law"

Erin Bailey - "My Favorite Coach"

William Michael Bowe - "Winter Games"

Gene Giuliani - "The King Pin"

Jerome Watson - "I Am Confident"

Ginger Shaud - "Fun at the Plunge"

Geoffrey Steggel - "My Most Memorable Moment"

Alex Brathwaite - "It Was Amazing"

Jillian Matthews - "No One in Front of Me"

Laura Passwaters - "My Favorite Coach"