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February 23, 2018

Lisa Elsener receives Lockton Courage Award

Most people dining in the Commons are unaware that a determined, award-winning athlete buses their tables.

For 40 years, Lisa Elsener has participated in the Special Olympics, winning so many medals she’s lost count. For the last 29 years, she’s also worked as a Dining Services aide at Johnson County Community College.

She recently was honored at the Kansas City Sports Commission's Women’s Sports Award Celebration, a time set aside to recognize local females for their contributions to sports.

Elsener received the Lockton Courage Award. As the program stated, “Lisa Elsener is a lifelong Special Olympian who has never let anything, or anyone, stop her from accomplishing her goals.”

40 years and counting

Elsener began competing in the Special Olympics when she was 8 years old, and now at 48, she intends to keep going. She runs 5 to 10 miles a day around her Prairie Village neighborhood. Some days, she swims laps at the Shawnee Mission East High School pool, too.

Why keep up such a tough training schedule? “I like it,” she said. “It takes away stress, and it’s fun.”

Elsener said she enjoys competing, too. When she looks at her medals, “it makes me feel good about it, like I really worked hard for them,” she said.

Elsener has competed in several Special Olympics World Games, in swimming and figure skating. One year she had a featured role in the closing ceremonies.

All-around athlete

In addition to swimming and figure skating, Elsener has competed in:

  • track and field
  • triathlon
  • marathon
  • basketball
  • volleyball
  • soccer
  • cheerleading
  • speed skating
  • skiing
  • bowling
  • golf

“Lisa does her job really well,” said Em Smail, Dining Services supervisor. “She’s polite, friendly and cares about other people. She gives 100 percent.”

Elsener takes that same attitude to the Special Olympics. “I like making friends there. And then there’s the volunteers, and the banquets and the dances,” she said. “I like it all.”

Congratulations, Lisa!