Marissa Schletzbaum (Iowa) and Andrew “Drew” Bowen (Oklahoma) have been selected as the 2018-19 Big 12 Special Olympics Athletes of the Year.
The Big 12 annually honors a male and female from its geographic footprint.
Schletzbaum has participated with Special Olympics Iowa for 16 years specializing in the sports of bowling, track & field, bocce, basketball and dance. In high school she participated in golf, cross country and cheerleading. Schletzbaum is a six-time gold medal winner at the State Olympic Games and a Global Messenger for Special Olympics.
In addition to her athletics achievements, Schletzbaum is the owner of Straw Hat Farms greenhouse and fresh produce. She has also participated four times in the Over the Edge fundraiser for Special Olympics by repelling off a 30-floor building. Other interests include singing in community choir.
Marissa is the daughter of Roger and Maureen Schletzbaum.
Bowen has been a member of Special Olympics Oklahoma for the past 10 years participating in area and state events. His favorite sport is track in which he enjoys running the 800- and 1500-meters, winning gold medals in both during the 2018 state meet. Bowen was selected to represent Team Oklahoma at the USA Special Olympic Games in Seattle, Washington in July 2018. He received medals in the mini-javelin (bronze), 400-meter relay (silver) and the 1500-meter run (silver).
In 2017-18, Bowen was voted as “Most Athletic,” and this school year as “Friendliest Boy” by his classmates at Valliant High School. The junior is a three-year member of varsity track and band while also working at the high school two hours a day. Bowen is an active member of Valliant First Baptist Church and lives by the motto of “the only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
Drew is the son of Kim and Gary Morrow.