Joseph Hreish, a Special Olympian since 2016, was recognized by the Cal-Nev-Ha Children’s Fund as the 2022 Special Olympics Athlete of the Year.
Nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Huntington Beach, Joseph has won medals in swimming and bocce ball, along with his favorite sports, floor hockey and basketball.
Affectionately known as “Big Joe,” he has an intense desire to learn, lead, participate, challenge himself, and to always model what it means to be a team player.
Big Joe is also a torch runner in the annual Special Olympics torch run and dreams of one day bringing home a medal from the Special Olympics world games.
The word big doesn’t even begin to describe the heart that Big Joe has for his community, those without voices, and for Kiwanis. Big Joe has actively participated with Kiwanis for more than 30 years alongside his mother Nouha. Big Joe can be seen at many of the club’s service projects and is always the first person to volunteer for any of their fundraising events.
As a sports ambassador and global messenger for Special Olympics, Big Joe shares his passion through radio and tv interviews, speaking at police and fire department meetings and at Kiwanis meetings. And he’s a member of the Toastmasters International Gavel Club.
According to the president of the Huntington Beach club, “[Big Joe] possesses all of the qualities worthy of being named athlete of the year: Big Joe is a leader. Big Joe demonstrates great sportsmanship. Big Joe is a team player. Most of all though, Big Joe is just a downright good person that everyone enjoys having around and has made our Kiwanis organization a better place with his presence and inclusion . . . Big Joe is the embodiment of everything that is good about Special Olympics and its motto: ‘let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt’.”
It’s easy to see why Big Joe was recognized as the 2022 Kiwanis Special Olympics Athlete of the Year!
Kiwanis clubs throughout the CNH District are encouraged to nominate a local, Special Olympics athlete for the esteemed Special Olympics Athlete of the Year award. The winning athlete is presented with an award at the annual Kiwanis District Convention and receives $250 for their use in Special Olympics.
Nominations for the 2023 Special Olympics Athlete of the Year award are now being accepted and may be submitted on our online submission form by any Kiwanis club within the CNH District. All supporting material must be uploaded when completing the online nomination form. Nominees must be residents of California, Nevada or Hawaii.