Shane Beard, a senior at Grandview High School, received the Exceptional Star of the Year Award and a $5,000 scholarship from former Denver Broncos safety John Lynch during the John Lynch Foundation 14th Annual Salute the Stars Luncheon, held May 10 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.
The John Lynch Foundation sponsors the John Lynch Star of the Month and Star of the Year program to recognize middle and high school student-athletes for exceptional achievement in academics, athletics and community service.
Beard, who has Down syndrome, is a member of Grandview’s Unified Spirit Squad and Unified Basketball and Track teams, which are made up of mainstream students and students with special needs. His coaches, teachers and fellow students say he has had a tremendous impact on the teams, the entire student body and the broader GHS community.
“Shane is Grandview’s proud spokesman for acceptance and education about people with disabilities, as well as a good friend to many,” said David Barton, a Special Education paraeducator at Grandview. “Without a doubt, Shane is an individual that has made changes in his community, despite his disabilities, that are much bigger than himself and his school.”
GHS teacher Linda Snelgrove says Beard is also very thoughtful and generous.
“Shane was ready to shoot the basketball, but instead noticed a teammate who is shyer about shooting baskets. I watched Shane give him the ball, and also encourage him to make the shot!” said Snelgrove. “Shane’s is character and integrity were manifested in that moment.”
Beard and the GHS Unified Basketball team have been featured during the halftime show of a Nuggets game, in several local radio broadcasts, in several local and national newspapers, including the New York Times, and were honored with the 9News Top 9 Moments of 2011 for Most Inspirational Video. They also won both area and state championship unified basektyball titles through Special Olympics Colorado.
Beard plans to use his Exceptional Star of the Year scholarship to pursue the skills that will enable him to work in the music industry. To date, the John Lynch Foundation has awarded $426,000 in scholarships to 88 student-athletes, including those with special needs.