Megan Powell first got involved with Special Olympics of Minnesota in April 2006 while finishing her sports management degree. She had to wake up early and monitor lanes for one of the organization’s bowling events.
More than eight years later, she’s in charge of "event enhancement" for fundraisers such as the Polar Plunge, the organization’s biggest event. It accounts for 80 percent of the organization’s total fundraising, and Powell is credited with helping it become so big.
That success has led the Hopkins Area Jaycees to select Powell as its nominee for the Minnesota Jaycees Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans program. The program recognizes outstanding young leaders, 18 to 40 years old, who “have contributed to our state through their service, thought/influence, community involvement or entrepreneurship,” according to the Minnesota Jaycees. Powell will be honored with the other nominees at a ceremony Saturday in Saint Louis Park.
- Click here to hear stories from past honorees.
Powell fell in love with Special Olympics of Minnesota after her first experiences with the organization. She participated in its internship program from January 2006 to April 2006 in the development program side of operations. When someone in the department left, she interviewed for the position and started her professional career with the organization.
She became the torch run manager—which oversees several smaller events, such as the golf tournament, half marathon, "Tip-A-Cops", Polar Plunge, Dave Ryan 5K and the hockey tournament.
The Polar Plunge started 30 years ago when an officer in Wichita, KS, wanted a charity to be involved. Powell made it a point to improve the relationship with law enforcement. She’s particularly worked with the Minneapolis Park Police Department.
The Minneapolis Polar Plunge has grown substantially under her watch. It only started about five years ago, raising $50,000 in its first year. By 2012, that had grown to $900,000.
She also started the Dave Ryan 5K five years ago after the radio station approached the organization.
“The financial success of the events under Megan's coordination, continues to grow,” the Jaycees wrote in their nomination. “The organization has moved into a nicer office building, recognition programs have grown, employment opportunities have risen; each event invests in itself.”
The Jaycee Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans is open to the public. The awards banquet takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton (1500 Park Place Blvd., St. Louis Park). Tickets cost $50 plus a $2.24 event fee and may be purchased here.