GREAT FALLS — Betsy Schaffer, Special Olympics Montana’s 2020 Athlete of the Year, received the "Spirit of Montana" commendation in Great Falls on Thursday. The award was presented by governor Greg Gianforte.
“The Spirit of Montana Award is really about finding exceptional people in our communities, and Betsy was just such a great example of that,” said Gianforte.
Among Betsy's achievements: she represented Montana in the U.S. Special Olympic Games in Seattle in 2018, earning two silver medals.
Betsy’s parents, teammates, and coaches emphasized the importance of her positive mindset.
“Betsy is always a joy to be around, always happy, very genuine, and just really wants to be helpful. She always wants everybody to be just as happy as she is,” former coach Kathy Wanner said.
Jamie Darko, one of her teammates, added, “Betsy loves life. She is my friend. Her pretty smile makes me feel good."
“To take a play out of Betsy’s playbook, ‘thinking positive vibes’ allows Betsy to perform at her best, inspiring those around her,” said Gianforte.“For being a role model for Montanans and making Great Falls and Montana a better place, I’m glad to honor Betsy for embodying the Spirit of Montana.”
Schaffer is the third winner of the award, joining Desiree Bain of Helena and Rob Selvig of Missoula. The award was created by the Governor’s Office this year to help shine light on Montana communities and the hard work being done in them.
The Spirit of Montana commendation recognizes Montanans for their accomplishments, dedication, or service. Gianforte encourages people to nominate members of their community for the commendation by contacting his office at 406-444-3111, or submitting nominations online.