ODS Awards First Changemaker Awards

Written by: Sarah Albus Posted on: April 29, 2019 Tagged: awards, Special Needs, Open Door Sports, children, disabilities, inclusion, Community Blog: News

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On Saturday, March 30, 2019 at the ODS Opening Doors, Opening Hearts Cocktail Party and Fundraiser, we awarded our first ever ODS Changemaker Awards to 3 individuals who are working to make our communities more inclusive, adaptive and accessible for all people.

Our ODS Youth Changemaker Award went to Sydney Morgenstern, an 8th grader at Tilden Middle School who has been volunteering with Open Door Sports since our first season in the Fall of 2017. She has participated each season with energy and enthusiasm and is also a member of the Best Buddies Program at Tilden. Sydney is one of those kids that consistently goes above and beyond, not only as a peer buddy but as a true friend, including kids with special needs in her life on a daily basis. Sydney sees beyond disability and we are thrilled to award her with our first ever ODS Youth Changemaker Award.

The ODS Changemaker Award went to the father and daughter team of Lewis and Izzy Kessler. Lewis introduced Izzy to the sport of bocce at a young age and they soon found that she had a real knack for it. Izzy was the captain of her high school bocce team and they won multiple regional and state championships under her lead. After high school, Izzy continued to be involved with bocce and coached for both her alma mater, B-CC, and Walt Whitman High School. She has coached teams to state and regional championships as well! Izzy and Lewis still have great involvement in the local bocce scene and last year the two of them were the referees for over a quarter of all MCPS bocce games. Furthermore, Izzy and Lewis coached a player to 4th place in the U.S. paralympic championships! Izzy and Lewis volunteer their time to run summer bocce summer programs for ODS which have been a ton of fun and a great addition to our organization! Izzy continues to break barriers in this sport and is a true inspiration to children and young adults with disabilities.

These three wonderful people have done amazing work to help our community evolve. We are proud to honor them with these awards and hope that they will continue to do more of the same and that others will follow their lead!