Hometown Heroes: McConnell airman helps Special Olympic athletes excel

Hometown Heroes

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Tech Sgt. Mijo Lopez spends his free time preparing Special Olympics athletes to be the best. It takes long hours, compassion, and words of encouragement.

Mijo is doing that while still serving our country in the Air Force at McConnell Air For Base.

When he is on the basketball court working with his team, Mijo is a man with a plan to make Special Olympic athletes the best they can be. Whether its hoops, track and field, volleyball or swimming, Lopez is a coach, a mentor, but, also a friend to the people he trains.

“There’s certain ones in which I view them as my younger brother, some that I view as my brother, some of them I view as my kids,” said Lopez.

By day, Lopez is a Tech Sergeant at McConnell Air Force Base. But, during his evenings he volunteers his time for Special Olympics.

“You begin to learn that each individual athlete has a different set of skills, different type of attention, different set of mentoring that you have to give to them.”

He got involved in Special Olympics 16 years ago, because, of his brother who is a Special Olympian with cerebral palsy.

“So, watching to be able to participate in track and field, where he is able to do races, either walking or jogging is a true inspiration.”

Lopez has coached athletes to succeed on and off the field and court for years.

“As a friend with all of them I start to learn, I become something more. I become their biggest fan and that is what I really am. I’m their biggest fan, because I get to watch them grow into something more,” said Lopez

Lopez has a lofty goal that could have a major impact on Special Olympians in our area.

“Hopefully, a long-term goal is to find a few investors to help build a complex that can be a sporting complex. So, I can keep them all in one area, and have living facilities for those who are in bad living situations that they can go and live there.”

Mijo lopez, a Hometown Hero, whose hard work is helping Special Olympians score big in sports and life.

Lopez says Special Olympics is always looking for volunteers to help out and coach. He says they have to be committed to helping the athletes to compete.

If you know of a Hometown Hero in your community we’d love to hear about them.

Send your nominations to reportit@ksn.com. Your Hometown Hero could be featured right here on KSN News 3.

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