LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Laura Chmielewski

Position: Adaptive Physical Education Teacher
School: Hospital Homebound
School District: Orange County Public Schools
City, State: Orlando, FL

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Music that Describes Laura

Laura Chmielewski was nominated by her principal, Betsy Theis.

"Ms. Laurie Chmielewski is a whirlwind LifeChanger," explains Theis. "In all my years in education, I have never met a more dedicated, energetic, child-oriented educator! By day, she teaches adaptive physical education to students with intellectual and physical disabilities throughout our school district. She knows her students and their abilities and needs. She is adept at adjusting and making accommodations on the spot as students' needs develop. She tracks data and uses it to refine lessons and define supports. She also leads the Adaptive P.E. Team of 20 teachers, supporting them with high-quality lesson development, school-department partnerships, and focused professional learning! She is known to all as a highly effective teacher!"

Ms. Chmielewski coaches Special Olympics teams in the evenings, including golf, tennis, flag football, basketball, track and field, and swimming. Recently, she started coaching pickleball, as Florida is piloting pickleball to shift from an exhibition sport to a sport for all of Special Olympics North America. During Wheelchair Basketball season, Ms. Chmielewski coaches and referees these athletes. This summer, she coordinated the Central Florida athletes for the U.S. Games held in Orlando. Ms. Chmielewski recruited volunteers, communicated with the local and national team members, invited families to participate, and coached and cheered athletes to success. She has also hosted international sponsors of Special Olympics to expand their knowledge base and programming, proving her unparalleled reputation and expertise! 

On top of it all, Ms. Chmielewski hosts Camp Shriver, a partnership with athletes with disabilities and Unified Partners. Camp Shriver provides a safe camp experience for students with disabilities each summer and emphasizes movement, sports, leisure activities, healthy choices, and fellowship. She schedules and coordinates with the venue partner, employees, volunteers, athletes, and families. It has been and continues to be an experience that children and young adults value and talk about all year, looking forward to participating each year. 

Ms. Chmielewski is among the most positive people you'll ever meet! She is a lifelong learner who makes the world she lives in a better place for all she encounters! Ms. Chmielewski continually seeks opportunities to improve herself and to help others. For example, during the summer, she spent a week cleaning the school's landscaping and overgrown areas on campus to welcome students and staff back from summer vacation.

"She is a LifeChanger, a difference maker, and a passionate and compassionate person who makes an impact every day, and she deserves this recognition of excellence," said Theis. "I wish every student had a 'Laurie' in her life! I am so fortunate that we get to work together; she makes a difference in my life!"

Comments (78)

Kam Singh Posted 11 days ago

Coach Laurie is an amazing teacher here at Thornebrooke Elementary School. She is a phenomenal coach to our students and she understands and knows how to interact with each one of them who exhibits different needs. She cares deeply about her students and is always thinking what is best for them which makes her a highly effective teacher. Coach Laurie is truly a Life Changer and is deserving for this recognition.

Lisa Haig Posted 12 days ago

I am blessed to have been a college roommate of Lauries. She is kind, generous and has the patience of a Saint! She is very passionate about what she does, and she puts her all into doing the best! Laurie works very hard for others, she puts her heart and soul into life! I admire all she has done and continues to do. Laurie is a life changer, in some situations I ask myself….WWLD! What Would Laurie Do.

Karla Buckles Posted 16 days ago

Laurie is one of the most selfless persons I've every had the honor to meet and work with. She's always going way beyond what is asked of her. She always greet you with a smile and willingness to assist in any way that is needed. It's always a joy to see her walk thru the door. I've never seen her in action during the work that she loves, but i can only imagine the excitement and benefits her students receive from her. I can go on and on. I concur with so many of the other comments about Laurie. YOU ROCK LAURIE!!!!!!

Brenda Christopher-Muench Posted 16 days ago

Laurie Chmielewski is always "all in". She exudes happiness while being caring and compassionate. Our district has relied on her knowledge to share teaching strategies for including students with disabilities in physical activities. During a recent physical education teacher training, she shared ways to adapt lessons and equipment so K-12 students of all abilities can more easily participate. Most importantly, she eased teachers' specific concerns and helped them understand what and when to modify. Laurie is a true LifeChanger and positive community leader. She deserves all of the accolades that can be given!

Felicia Robinson Posted 17 days ago

Life is a garden made richer by those who share our path. Ms.Chmielewski is a very special person. She is someone with a Big Heart, who always strive to do the best for our children. Sometimes we get so busy and fail to say the things we'd like to say. So i want to say Thank You !!! for your nurturing,and loving light ?? you bring us. Congratulations on your Nomination

Leighann Bennett Posted 17 days ago

To know her is to love her. Coach Chemy has endless energy and a never ending desire to teach, coach and mentor those around her. I’ve never met anyone that comes close to her enthusiasm to help those with special needs. She keeps herself healthy and fit so her body is always ready to help others. All this and Chemy is one of my dearest friends and I’m so thankful for her. She is a life changer. She just makes life better for those around her.

Stephanie Simmons Posted 17 days ago

It has been an honor & a pleasure to work alongside Ms. Chmielewski over the years. Her expertise & teaching style is unparalleled. She is quick to adjust any activity to each person's ability in order to allow them to be successful, feel included, to learn & to support each other. She is innovative with her lessons, she always maintains a positive attitude, she is a great coach & team player. It is my hope that everyone has a "Laurie Chmielewski" in their lives - as she truly is a life changer!

Jennifer Goldman Posted 18 days ago

Ms. Chmielewski is a perfect example of a life changer and difference maker. She was the adaptive PE teacher when I worked at Thornbrooke Elementary many years ago. Now my kids volunteer at Camp Shriver that she leads. And I volunteered at the Special Olympics this year because she sent an email out to families and I signed up! She is so great at what she does and so supportive of the special needs community. Orlando is lucky to have Ms. Chmielewski!

Amie Dugan Posted 19 days ago

Ms. Theis said everything so well and I fully concur! Laurie is more than a life-changer: she’s been a game-changer for countless students with disabilities - for decades - by bringing the power, joy, and lessons of sport to all student-athletes to reveal their potential on and off the playing field. I have had the great joy and privilege of knowing Laurie Chmielewski for about 25 years. We met through Special Olympics. Of the hundreds and hundreds of Special Olympics coaches and special education teachers I have known – she is truly exemplary. Whether coaching athletes with or without disabilities, she is an excellent, knowledgeable coach. She consistency upholds and promotes the integrity of sport and sportsmanship. She has been selected to be head coach for multiple Special Olympics USA Games and World Games teams and athletes over the years. A few years ago, she was recognized for her commitment to the athletes of Special Olympics and excellence in coaching, by being named the Special Olympics North America (SONA) Coach of the Year. This is the highest honor SONA bestows upon only one coach a year of the hundreds of thousands of coaches in SONA. She served as the training director for Special Olympics Orange County for many years, ensuring athletes of all abilities, throughout the county, have had quality, regular training and competition opportunities, in multiple sports, throughout year. Her significance in the history of Special Olympics in Florida was recognized when the organization inducted her into its Hall of Fame. But what has struck me most about Coach Laurie is how she always goes above and beyond for her students and athletes. She truly knows every student and athlete, and their families, and meets them where they are. More importantly, she unlocks the potential they didn't even know they had, believe they could achieve, or that were even options. I can’t count the number of times she has helped athletes through tough times, giving endless amounts of her personal time and funds to help athletes in need. She goes above and beyond – always. This was epitomized during COVID and the virtual learning environment. She took the extra time to create individualizes lessons ad activities that were tailored to each student’s needs. Her efforts provided critical physical activity and social connection during a time when her students could have atrophied on both fronts. She is humble to a fault, an extraordinary mentor to and cheerleader for fellow and up and coming coaches and teachers, and her seemingly endless energy and joy for what she does makes her fun and inspiring to be around. I could go on and on but in short, she’s changed countless lives for the better: athletes, students, coaches, fellow teachers, families, and volunteers. Her legacy is the lives she’s bettered. I wish every student, parent, and school could be so blessed as to have a Laurie Chmielewski!

Nereida Lassus Posted 20 days ago

Congratulations!!! Thank you for all you do! It takes a special person to give so much of your time as you do! You are a true Hero for the kids and the staff!

Sean Calamigan Posted 20 days ago

I have had the opportunity to work with Coach Laurie at Special Olympics for 2 years now and I have a deep respect for her and her ability to plan and coordinate such a big event. Every year, she was able to adapt to the tasks at hand all while being caring to the staff and the athletes.

Julia B Williams Posted 20 days ago

We have worked with Laurie for years through Camp Shriver - she has ushered 2 of my children through that program as volunteers, and has made a difference in their lives for the better. They have had the opportunity to work with the athletes and have gained self esteem, empathy, skills, and compassion through this experience. Laurie is responsive at all levels, organized, tireless, and a true leader. We whole heartedly endorse her for the LifeChanger Award, and wish there were more people in the world like her. The world would be a better place!

Hannah Kapuschinsky Posted 20 days ago

Coach Laurie has changed my life for the better in many ways over the years, always the most positive and uplifting person!

Aidy Florers Posted 20 days ago

Wow!!! Laurie is an exceptional human being. She does her job as if she is dealing with her family. She is caring and always trying to support our special needs community. She makes them feel appreciated and valued. I second every single word expressed in this email. She is an inspiration to many of us and younger generation. She is leaving a legacy for others to follow. She deserved to be honor for the LifeChanger Recognition.

Christina Krantz Posted 20 days ago

We met Coach Laurie last year when my son Luke tried basketball with Special Olympics. She immediately welcomed Luke and knew his name right away making him feel so special. She is an absolutely amazing Coach!!! She gives 110% to every child there and it’s been amazing to watch her work with all of these kids. Luke was also able to attend Camp Shriver with her and what a great experience!!! She has been such a LifeChanger to every child she has met!!!

Elaine Vivek Posted 20 days ago

Coach Laurie is an amazing advocate for all of our special needs kiddos!! Her dedication to Special Olympics is truly the gift that keeps on giving. My son is a big fan of Camp Shriver and the various sports offered throughout the year. Nowhere else can my son feel safe, supported and successful as he enjoys playing sports! And he will always find Coach Laurie cheering him on as he plays! Thank you Coach Laurie for all that you do! We love you!!!

Melissa Burden Posted 20 days ago

Coach Laurie is AMAZING! She makes everyone feel welcomed and always have a positive vibe about her.

Carla Holoman Posted 20 days ago

Coach Laurie is a force if nature. My son became Special Olympic athlete 11 years ago and I cannot name a time when Coach Laurie wasn’t present at camp or his competitions - Golf, Swimming, Surfing, Basketball, Bowling, Track and Field, and Soccer. She also coaches other sports in her “spare time”. ?? We are one family among hundreds that she has directly affected. We love her and can whole heartedly verify that she is a life changer.

Aysha Nickels Posted 20 days ago

I work with Laurie at Camp Shriver every summer! She is such an amazing person, and coach. Running that camp takes so much time, organization, and effort! I am so thankful to get to work beside her and learn from her as a mentor and friend! She is very deserving of this award!

Sweta Shroff Posted 20 days ago

Mrs. Laurie, I initially met Coach Laurie through my daughter while trying to set up additional Special Olympics camps at my daughter's school. Her patience and guidance helped my daughter to create amazing unified events. My second interaction with her impact was once I started having my son be involved with Special Olympics! Coach Laurie is an absolutely amazing coach to kids with special needs - she has patience, enthusiasm, and LOADS of dedication to this entire population! Working with and helping people with special needs is truly built into her core. We feel so blessed to have her as one of my son's coaches for golf, track and Camp Shriver.

Elizabeth En Naoui Posted 20 days ago

Coach Laurie is a Amazing Coach for Special Needs Kids & Adults. She has soo much patience, kindness, & leadership. She motivates her students to keep trying and never give up on themselves. She encourages the kids to be themselves and to always to there Best! Thank You Coach Laurie for all of your hard work and devotion.

Melissa Trujillo Posted 23 days ago

I have worked with coach Laurie in Special Olympics for several years. She goes above and beyond for all athletes. She gives of herself willingly and unselfishly. Everyone knows and loves her! Laurie has established an impressive rapport with students and parents over her many years of coaching. Coach Laurie is most definitely a LifeChanger in every aspect of her profession. Her passion, dedication, and service to individuals with disabilities is certainly deserving of the LifeChanger Recognition. Thank you for all you do Laurie!!

MarthaKay Farmer, RN Posted 23 days ago

To work with Coach Laurie is a true joy. She demonstrates deep compassion for her students, seeks out to contribute to the team, and maintains a pleasant demeanor while continually encouraging those around her. The wisdom she displays in dealing with difficult student situations, gives insight into the knowledge and experience she holds as a professional teacher. I thoroughly enjoy when I walk into her class. Her organization, interactive lessons, and student engagement gives evidence to her high skill as an adaptive physical education coach. However, her greatest asset is her contagious smile, which brightens any interaction with her..

Erin Duffy Posted 24 days ago

Laurie is a wonderful lead teacher in Adaptive PE. She is a wealth of information and ideas that are beneficial to all who will listen. Her desire to help others is unmatched. She also dedicates so much time and energy to her students and families while in school as well as outside of school - specifically Special Olympics. You can see her devotion to helping her athletes succeed.

Lora Egbers Posted 24 days ago

Laurie is the most positive person I have every worked with. She gives countless hours helping and teaching children and adults with special needs. She is a wonderful leader, always there to support and answer questions for co-workers. She inspires not only her students but everyone she has contact with.

Julia Connolly Posted 24 days ago

Laurie is never without a big smile, especially when she’s around our special needs kids. My son adores her and responds so well to her consistently excellent training, expertise, patience, and — did I mention that smile? ????

Brooke Gustovich Posted 24 days ago

Laurie's selfless dedication to students, athletes, friends, and family can not be compared. She is the true definition of a difference maker and lifechanger to SO many people. It is an honor to be her coworker and friend. I have learned so much from Laurie!

Dawn Wolf Posted 24 days ago

Laurie is an incredibly positive, hard-working person. She gave my daughter the opportunity to work with her at Camp Shriver this summer, and my daughter had the best experience working with Laurie. She even told someone just yesterday, that she can’t wait to come home this summer for those three weeks again!

Aurora Rojas Posted 24 days ago

You are the best! Congratulations on a well-deserved nomination, Laurie.

Jason Thulin Posted 25 days ago

Laura, I just wanted to take this time to say WHAT TOOK THEM SO LONG!! You are an amazing talent for our guys and gals to have in their lives. I had Erik in POP Warner at a young age just to have them say he couldn't compete as to his disabilities.If it weren't for endearing people such as yourself. This world would be very difficult for our guys and gals to experience sports. To us , our family sports brings a whole host of good,positive events. It helps bring team work together a feeling of accomplishment ! All I can say is I hope there are more out there learning about you and your story. I'm sure I speak for all of us to say THANK YOU and that you deserve to be recognized with this award. If I can speak to anyone else on your behalf and how important of an impact you have had , please just let me know and I'd be happy to be there.

Regina M Sasahara Posted 25 days ago

Coach Laurie is amazing! She made all the difference for my daughter's life. Because of her my daughter loves to join the Special Olympics activities. We are forever grateful for Coach Laurie!

Karen Silvernail Posted 26 days ago

Laurie is a very giving person. It is amazing how much time she spends supporting, instructing, and encouraging Special Olympics athletes in the evenings, after working full time during the day as an adaptive PE teacher. The encouragement, understanding and enthusiasm, she displays toward the Special Olympics athletes she coaches, is remarkable. I am always pleased when my Special Olympic athlete has Laurie as an instructor. She is definitely a LIFE changer.

Brenda Carter Posted 27 days ago

Laurie is a amazing coach. The kids love going to her class. She makes every minute in the class teachable with learning sports and plays amazing games with them. She shows love and compassion to all children. I have been blessed to work with her. And learn from her.

Jeanne H Davison Posted 27 days ago

There is no finer person then Laurie. Always with a smile. No one works harder. You have to support her because you can't outwork. her. Her day has more hours then the rest of us because most people can't come close to what she accomplishes in a day. Very selfless always looking out for the good of others. Her athletes are her life. She does anything she can to make their world a better place, Life changer truly describes her.

Scott Luebke Posted 27 days ago

The world needs more Coach Laurie in it. Our family has known Coach Laurie for 10 years and we've witnessed personally how Coach Laurie changes lives. Our daughter Hali is on the Autism Spectrum and the growth and development of participating in Special Olympics have been staggering. The driving force (and I do mean 'force') has been Coach Laurie. Laurie's energy, dedication, empathy, spirit, and impact have been immense in Hali's life, our family's life, and the entire Special Olympics family. The commitment level to be inclusive and engaging with all athletes is heartwarming to witness. We've met numerous Special Olympics coaches throughout the years. Most are good, some not so good. Coach Laurie and her life-changing impact are SPECIAL. Her communication skills are amazing...whether engaging or interacting with the athletes, communicating with the parents and siblings, Laurie has that special sauce. She involves everyone. Plain and simple, I wish I was even 50% as impactful as Coach Laurie as a person.

TERRI SCHON Posted 27 days ago

Laurie goes unbelievably above and beyond to support the special needs community. She is a constant in my son's life and that is rare. She is one of the most positive people I know. She is truly deserving of this!

Kim Lowe Posted 27 days ago

I watch her with our students at Dream Lake and even from across the field I can see the dedication she has. The students she works with have this excitement about them and it's very evident they love her.

Maureen Venkersammy Posted 27 days ago

When you are a parent of a child/children with disabilities it doesn’t take a village, rather it takes a special group of exceptional teachers, administrators and friends. Laurie fits all 3 pieces of that puzzle. Since I’ve been blessed to meet her through special Olympics I’ve watched her dedication, helpfulness and devotion to each and every athlete, parent and coach that she’s come into contact with. She encourages the athletes to keep moving, not an easy feat for some of them. She provides coaches with tools to adapt their styles so that the athletes will have the best outcome for each of them individually. Laurie encourages athletes to work together to ensure their teams have their best outcomes as well. With that said, to top it all off; she unceasingly is optimistic and always keeps a watchful eye that the athletes are having fun! Sports and movement are beneficial best when they are fun! I have never met anyone more deserving of this award in my quarter of a century participating in Special Olympics.

Mike Eckstein Posted 27 days ago

As all have mentioned, Laurie has touched the lives of so many students and families throughout her career, but I believe the number is truly countless. You should not underestimate the effect she has had on other teachers, coaches and volunteers that in turn have tried to follow her example.

Pilar Alvarado Posted 28 days ago

Coach Laurie is an exceptional person, she gives everything for the kids, she change their life’s and always giving that energy to all the special kids, pushing them to do their best. Thanks Coach Laurie for all you do , and the most important is you do it with all your heart.

Lisa Landsberger Posted 28 days ago

Coach Laurie has definitely changed the lives of my sons, who are two of Laurie’s Orange County Athletes. She coaches my one son in Golf and both of my sons in Flag Football and Track & Field. She has coached the boys to Gold Medals in Flag Football and Track & Field. She pushes them to be the best athletes they can be and encourages them each step of the way. She coaches all athletes to meet their needs and coaches at their level so they learn new skills. There is not a more deserving coach than Laurie.

Chris Gallagher Posted 28 days ago

Laurie is a dedicated leader and professional. She is changing the lives of so many young people.

Brenda Ayala Posted 28 days ago

Coach Laurie is an incredible person. Her dedication to her students is admirable. She has been an amazing teacher to my son and other special needs children. She truly has a kind heart.

Kaia Forget Posted 28 days ago

I can't think of a better person to be nominated for this accolade!! Laurie is pure joy and positivity and it shows up in everything she does in her work and her numerous volunteer commitments. You can't help but smile when you are with Laurie because she possesses a true zest for life and for serving others. I've never met a more selfless and giving human being - Laurie is a true Lifechanger!

Silvia Alvarez Haas Posted 28 days ago

Laurie's heart is enormous!! Her energy, spirit and enthusiasm for working with the special needs population is infectious. She cares deeply about her students, the teachers that work with the kids and their families. She goes above and beyond to ensure every child gets 150% of Coach Laurie. Laurie's motto is "adjust and adapt". She is able to impact every student's learning style because of her motto. I am blessed to call her mentor, colleague and friend!! Coach Laurie is a TRUE "LifeChanger!"

Julie Weinberg Posted 28 days ago

Coach Laurie is a life changer! Her dedication to our kids is unparalleled. She is fun, compassionate, a go-getter and pours herself into our Special Olympics community. Laurie deeply cares for all of the athletes and students she reaches. She enhances our sons life because of all she does for our special needs community and for that we are grateful! Congratulations Laurie, on this incredible and deserving honor.

Morgan Underwood Posted 28 days ago

There is no one better that I can think of to deserve this award. Laurie is dedicated, passionate, patient, and truly inspiring to see in action! Her care for the students she teaches is evident in their excitement to see her, and seeing the impact of her care and work with them is amazing. She takes extra care to know what helps each student succeed, and provides specific support to help them be their best. Laurie is absolutely a life-changer for so many - myself included! She is more than deserving of this award today and everyday.

Carol Tortorella Posted 28 days ago

My son has been a participant in Special Olympics for over 15 years and Laurie has always been there, working with students, coaching them, holding practices, and running the County, Area and State Games, in addition to fund raisers. I don't know how she has time to do it all! But she has surely made a difference in my son's life and many other students as well. My son looks forward to his Special Olympics events, and he enjoys having the same "familiar faces" at all of his events. Thank you to Laurie for all she has done for our kids for all these years.

Liz Calio Posted 28 days ago

A true professional...hard worker..great coach...

Ryan Spickler Posted 28 days ago

Ever since I've known Laurie she has been an inspiration to not just her students but everyone who is luckily enough to cross paths with her. She works harder than any other teacher I've seen and yet she always is willing to lend a hand or take time out of her day to help in any way she can. Her knowledge, leadership, and enthusiasm is second to none.

Beverly Bateman Posted 28 days ago

We had the pleasure of meeting and working with Ms. Laurie when my grandson Kyle signed up for Special Olympics. She is a very enthusiastic, caring ,and motivating coach. She is able to find the positive with each child she works with. She truly seems to enjoy what she is doing. I feel she is "super-human" with all her devotion to the community. I know how important positive people are for the disabled community and it is comfort to the parent or caregiver to feel safe when they leave their child in someone else's care. Ms. Laurie always provided a fun, safe environment and we look forward to next year.

Tonya Snodgrass Posted 28 days ago

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Laurie for 30+ years. I’ve observed Laurie in the classroom and the excitement when she walked in the room said it all. Her dedication and positive energy shows in the faces of her students. The dedication does not end at school, she also spends countless hours with Camp Shiver and coaching for Special Olympics Fl. Coach Laurie is a Life Changer!!

Bethany Walsh Posted 28 days ago

Laurie is nothing short of amazing! Not only is she 100% committed to teaching and coaching, she also is a great leader. I could not have gotten recertified for teaching without Laurie's guidance. She is always available and has a positive attitude. I am so happy that Laurie has been nominated for this award, she deserves it!

Jimi Underwood Posted 28 days ago

I coach Special Olympics flag football, 5-on-5 basketball and track with Laurie. It always amazes me the commitment and effort she shows day in and day out to Special Olympics and Orange County Public Schools. What is even more inspiring is the smile that never leaves her face and the joy that exudes from her. She truly has a servant's heart. She never leaves a practice until every athlete has been picked up. And if no one shows, she takes them home no matter where they live. She urges every athlete to see push through their disabilities to be the best they can be. She has changed the lives of so many by showing those with special needs that there are no limits for them. She still keeps in contact with athletes that she's coached 15 years ago and now coaches them through life. Laurie always wants the best for every athlete, unified partner and coach. There's no doubt of that in the mind of anyone that has spent time with her. I wish I was back in middle or high school so I could write an essay on the prompt "Who inspires you?" or "Who's your hero?" I would absolutely choose Laurie. No one is more deserving of this award. She is a LifeChanger!

Tom Eaton Posted 28 days ago

Great teacher and friend

Elaina Lavdas Posted 28 days ago

Laurie is an amazing woman! Her dedication to the kids is unbelievable. She is patient, kind and understanding. No one is more deserving of this award.

Joanne LaComb Posted 28 days ago

Laurie has been an awesome influence on my daughter, Elizabeth! Her care and concern has us driving over 30 minutes to work with her in track and field and for us to attend summer camp. She is a strong positive role model and deserves this award. She makes life better for all who she is and with context with! Thank you for being awesome!

Kelly Chisholm Posted 28 days ago

Coach Laurie is a patient, kind and compassionate person. My husband and I often comment to one another how grateful we are to have Laurie in our son’s life. She makes Orange County welcoming and a preferred place to live for caregivers of special needs children.

Martha L Mazo Posted 28 days ago

Laurie is the best trainer my daughter has ever had, her patience, dedication and love for what she does makes her the best. She deserves the award because she has earned it with her dedication to our children.

Nicole Tambini Posted 28 days ago

There is no one more deserving of this award. Laurie has changed and influenced so many people in all she does and continues to do! Congratulations ??

Raymond Palmer Posted 29 days ago

She inspires everyone to be better and make a difference! Yeah Laurie

Carmen Connolley Posted 29 days ago

Laurie has been a role model to me and so many, all the way back to her college years. I have always looked up to Laurie as a leader and mentor in our Sorority; and I've always known Laurie would do amazing things in her life! This is a well deserved honor for Laurie!!

Susan Daugherty Posted 29 days ago

Congratulations Laurie! You are a Life Changer and truly deserve this recognition. Thank you for always sharing your knowledge, your passion, your experiences with me and others so that we can find our way to be like you. You have always been so patient, kind, knowledgeable, understanding, creative, an amazing friend, teacher, Coach and coworker. You have changed the lives of all that have known you for the better. Thank you Laurie for changing my life too!

Melanie Simmons Posted 29 days ago

From our college days together to present, I've watched Laurie improve the lives of others. She tirelessly volunteers her time, money and many other resources 364 days of the year - she reserves one day to regroup, recap and rest. Her dedication to teaching is remarkable. She should be high-fived all day! She volunteers with several non-profit organizations and has received many accolades for the generosity. She is so deserving of this honor!

Dawn Thomas Posted 29 days ago

Laurie is an amazing human being. In every conversation I have had with her over the last 30 years she has mentioned her students and the joy she gets from working with them everyday. She is a gift to all who have the privilege of knowing her. ??

linda a provencher Posted 29 days ago

I've known Laurie for over 30 years and she always been a caring,giving person. Her dedication to her students and the Special Olympics goes above and beyond for a teacher and volunteer. The world is a better place because of her!

Katie Casale Posted 29 days ago

I have know Laurie for 35+ years. She has always gone above and beyond! She always puts the needs of others ahead of hers. Laurie is the most compassionate woman I know. Laurie has dedicated her life to changing the lives of children and is so deserving of this award.

Pat Murphy Posted 29 days ago

Laurie is a difference maker! I can’t help but use superlatives when describing Laurie, her work ethic and commitment to enhancing the lives of children with unique need. She truly makes our world and the children she works with world better! There is no one more dedicated, more positive and more deserving of this honor than Laurie!

Christine Holton Posted 29 days ago

Coach Laurie has an uncanny ability to differentiate all of her lessons to meet the complex needs of my students. Many of my past students have had very limited mobility, and yet in Coach Laurie’s class, they thrive. Coach Laurie is unphased by any adaption she needs to make on the fly to meet the students’ needs. She continuously strives to help each child be successful in her class. Coach Laurie instills a sense of pride that is uncommon for many ESE students. My students leave her class happy and eagerly anticipate the next time they will see her. Laurie is an innovative teacher who is able to incorporate grade level standards into her physical education classes, allowing children to learn through movement and have great fun doing so. Laurie is what all educators should strive to be an d well deserving of this award.

Sharon Knauth Posted 29 days ago

I met Laurie 15 years ago when she was the Adaptive PE teacher at my high school. I witnessed her dedication to the students each week and then observed her in action at Special Olympics. She advocates for all student athletes and ensures that every Special Olympics event runs smoothly and is full of energy and celebration. Laurie is able to bring out the best in every student and student athlete she works with!!

Susan Scheuer Posted 29 days ago

I have known Laurie Chmielewski for 18 years. From the moment I met Laurie I knew she was someone I would learn a lot from. She got me interested in Special Olympics coaching at Freedom HS. I saw how dedicated she was to all of her students and athletes which made me want to be a part of Special Olympics. Laurie is always such a positive person and is very passionate about everything she does.

Julie Jenkins Posted 29 days ago

I have known Laurie for 40+ yrs! She has always been a Lifechanger for so many in her community! The world needs more Lauries??

Gayla Todd Posted 29 days ago

Well deserved! Laurie is a great example of a servant leader. Gayla Todd

Penny McCarthy Posted 29 days ago

Laura is one of the most positive people you will ever meet. She is dedicated to her job, to Special Olympics and to her friends. She is a wonderful person who has dedicated her live to making people with disabilities life much better. I am lucky to know her and totally agree with Dr. Theis the world would be a much better place if ever student had a Laurie in their life!

Linda Swims Posted 29 days ago

Laurie is a person who is fully committed and dedicated to others. I have known Laurie for quite some time and she is definitely one you want on your team. She's reliable, dependable and sets a good example for others around her. When she makes the decision to take on a job, she gives her whole self to the cause in hopes that the outcome can be the best it can be. I honestly believe Laurie's strong commitment to helping others has made a huge difference in other people's lives by providing them the sense of fulfillment, confidence and strength to be all they can be.

Mary Grupp Posted 29 days ago

Congratulations!! We love Laurie here at Dream Lake Elementary. She is always positive and encouraging with our students. Laurie is so deserving of this award!

Betsy Hughes Posted 29 days ago

Laurie is outstanding! Her passion to help, shape and motivate our ESE babies is beyond compare! You can tell that she loves her job and the students she serves. My students absolutely love coach Laurie! She deserves to be honored as a life changer of the year!

Judy Brunner Posted 29 days ago

I am beyond thrilled that Laurie has been nominated for this well deserved recognition. I met Laurie many years ago while she was a student at St. Leo College, preparing to become a teacher. She was assigned to me as an intern in Adaptive Physical Education at my school, Woodland Elementary. From day one, I knew that she was going to be one of the special, truly life changing educators that would give her heart and soul to her students, and she certainly has been that, and so much more! Over the years we have stayed in touch, and worked together through Special Olympics, and I have been amazed at all that Laurie has accomplished. She is such a positive force in everything she does, and we will never really know all the lives she has touched. What a difference maker she is, to so many people! I am so proud of Laurie, and I feel so blessed to have been a small part of her journey. You will never find a more deserving person of life changer of the year, than Laurie Chmielewski!