Special Olympics Florida

Charles Hicks student-athlete awards Special Olympics Florida grant through Gatorade

Florida Cross Country Gatorade State Player of the Year, Charles Hicks, awarded Special Olympics Florida with a $1,000 grant to help accomplish our mission to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for people with intellectual disabilities.

Sports have seen a double-digit decline over the past decade, largely due to tighter budgets in communities, but young people that participate in sports are found to be happier, healthier and better students. Gatorade Play It Forward empowers Gatorade Player of the Year recipients across the country to award local or national sports organizations with grants, so they can continue helping young athletes enjoy the benefit of sports.

“The Gatorade Player of the Year award highlights student-athletes who set an example both on and off the field” said Amanda Turak, Assistant Marketing Manager for Gatorade Player of the Year. “The grants give these athletes a chance to donate to organizations like, Special Olympics Florida, that positively impact the youth in their own communities.”

Charles Hicks crosses the finish line

Hicks won his second consecutive Class 2A individual state championship this past season with a time of 15:29.2, leading the Bolles School to their second consecutive state title as a team. Hicks won the Nike Cross Nationals Southeast Regional championships in 15:04.5 and placed 14th nationally at the NXN Final, earning All-American status.

“Charles Hicks is the main cog driving the culture change and belief of what our team could accomplish in cross country,” said Bolles coach Mike Rivera. “Individually, he has an inner drive which is second to none. He’s able to set a goal, focus on the goal and do everything that’s required over several months to reach his goal.”

All 607 Gatorade State Player of the Year recipients are awarded a grant to donate to the organization of their choosing. Each Player of the Year can also submit an essay about why their organization is deserving of a Spotlight Grant, which is a larger monetary award. Gatorade awards 12 Spotlight Grants, one for each sport recognized by the Player of the Year program.

To keep up to date on the latest happenings, become a fan of Gatorade Player of the Year on Facebook and follow the conversation on Twitter #GatoradePOY. For more on Gatorade Play It Forward, the Gatorade Player of the Year, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit PlayerOfTheYear.Gatorade.com.