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Positively Milwaukee Award winner's legacy honored with a scholarship

Posted at 4:27 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 17:27:40-04

You may remember Ken Kuemmerlein -- he was our Positively Milwaukee Legacy Award winner.

He was also a beloved Special Olympics coach. When he passed away from COVID, his loved ones wanted to make sure Ken's kindness lived on.

Jenne Hohn knew Ken his whole life, including the decade he volunteered with Special Olympics.

"He was so passionate about it, and I was like, 'well I want to do that, then.'"

Ken spent his time spreading his passion and kindness with athletes. That included being a partner for golf athlete Ryan Knodl. The pair worked so well together, they took home bronze in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Medals aside, Jenne says Ryan also gained a lot of confidence in himself.

"It's not about winning. It's about being a part of the team," Jenne says. "And I think that's what really drew Ken to Special Olympics."

Last year, Jenne and Ken were coaching opposite basketball teams at a game.

"And that was the last time I saw him and recieved a hug. And if you knew Ken, you knew what a hug from Big Ken was like, it was really special."

Ken's death left a gaping hole in the community. Jenne says she established the scholarship fund to try and fill it.

"It was just this perfect way to continue Ken's journey," she says. "And everything that he was."

The $500 scholarship is for Cedarburg High School students who volunteer with the Special Olympics. This first one goes to Sadie LaHaie, who has been volunteering for three years.

"I just want to make other people happy, and that's the biggest thing," Sadie says. "Being able to support the athletes and help the athletes like every week just made me really happy."

She's honored to benefit from Ken's legacy.

"His dedication to Special Olympics is so cool. Special Olympics is such a great program and it's cool seeing people who are so dedicated to it."

Sadie will be taking her scholarship to the Milwaukee School of Engineering where she plans to study architectural engineering. Sadie says that will allow her to create more inclusive, accessible spaces.

"I want to spend my future doing those sorts of things because that's how I feel I can help people the most."

Jenne says she doesn't get a hand in picking who wins Ken's scholarship, but she couldn't be happier with the choice.

"I don't know the other candidates, but after meeting Sadie, I'm like, 'wow.' Fabulous, fabulous selection."

There's even more positive news to the story. Mel's Charities of Ozaukee County has decided to chip in a little more money for Ken's Scholarship. Sadie will get that surprise check a little later this summer.

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