Jack Burk joined Special Olympics as a basketball coach in 2000. Over the course of his 23 years with Special Olympics Howard County, he has built multiple innovative programs. Hundreds of basketball Special Olympians have played for Jack, and his ability to relate to athletes of all ability levels has made him an invaluable asset to the Special Olympics community. In addition to basketball, Jack served as one of the golf coaches from 2001-2007. To ensure Howard County representation at the Special Olympics Maryland level, Jack served on the golf and basketball development teams. He champions the incorporation of student volunteers into working with Special Olympics athletes. When his daughter, Jackie, died in 2004, the family decided to honor her memory by establishing a scholarship fund in her name to honor these outstanding student volunteers. Through the generous donations of family and friends, as of 2023, the Jackie Burk Memorial Scholarship has provided financial assistance totaling over $31,000 to 22 outstanding Special Olympic student volunteers who follow in Jackie’s spirit of volunteering with Special Olympics athletes.

Allan Harden was a true original in the field of Recreation and Parks. He was hired in 1977 as the first Sports Coordinator for Howard County Recreation and Parks. Working with no budget, he built the programs from the ground up. He developed strong relationships with community groups and developed staff to bring sports countywide. Allan’s business acumen allowed the sports division to flourish even in times of economic downturn. Allan was a strong advocate for expanding facilities and fields to provide more opportunities for citizens to play.  His diverse knowledge of sports rules and regulations, passion for fairness, and win-win philosophy made him highly regarded by his peers. As President of the Mid-Atlantic Recreation and Parks Sports Alliance, he developed the Good Sports Awards. He created the first Celebration of Sports and the Howard County Community Sports Hall of Fame. Allan’s legacy continues through the people he touched and the programs he built and supported. He retired as the Howard County Recreation and Parks’ Superintendent of the Sports & Adventure Services Division in June 2022 after 45 years. Allan passed away in June 2023 and left an immeasurable impact on sports in Howard County.

“Coach Jim” has done it all. From player to coach (and later becoming an administrator and referee), Jim Long has positively impacted the sport of lacrosse. His time giving back to the community through the Howard County Lacrosse Program included “doing the dirty work” with a smile on his face. This included distributing and collecting equipment, grinding and painting goals in the off-season, changing out job box locks, lining fields, coaching, officiating, and countless other tasks. Jim created the Howard County Adaptive Lacrosse Program, a program which allows children with special needs to play the sport of lacrosse. The program later expanded into Carroll County.

Sharron Smith has dedicated most of her life to the betterment of the community through track & field. Sharron began coaching an elite youth track team in 1996, which allowed her to provide youth and student athletes a place to grow and succeed. She helped multiple children achieve their dreams of competing in intercollegiate athletics. Many athletes, who otherwise would not have been able to afford college, earned scholarships. Sharron’s leadership through sports, combined with her 33 years with the Department of Juvenile Services, allowed her to positively impact countless youth. Her goal has always been to positively steer youth so that they may accomplish anything they strive to achieve.