By Emma Lee
Long Beach/Whittier athlete Jared Kozak was presented with the Richard L. Van Kirk Outstanding Outreach Achievement Award at Special Olympics Southern California’s Board of Directors meeting on Thursday.
Presented annually since 2001, the award is named after Special Olympics Southern California’s first president. After passing away in November 2018, his son now presents the award.
A large part of Jared’s contribution to Special Olympics is due to his involvement and leadership in the Global Messengers program, which he joined in 2017 to spread awareness of Special Olympics’ mission.
“Almost every time that there has been a need for a Global Messenger, Jared has answered the bell, even when we have received last-minute requests. His story, like all of our athletes, is amazing and Jared always does a wonderful job“, said Brandon Adachi, community engagement director in Special Olympics’ Los Angeles/San Gabriel Valley office.
Jared is always sharing Special Olympics’ mission, along with the impact inclusive sports has had on his life and the lives of many others. He participates in golf, bowling, and in the past basketball with the Southeast Los Angeles program.
After participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run at such a young age, Jared grew up appreciating all that law enforcement agencies have contributed to Special Olympics and this is reflected in many of his presentations as a Global Messenger.
“Every time Jared speaks, it’s incredibly impactful. These presentations were perfectly crafted because it not only shared Jared’s Special Olympics and personal story, but also why he loves law enforcement and how important they are to him and all athletes,” his nomination read.
Along with being an athlete, Jared is a big sports fan, especially when it comes to USC. His father, Marc, is an alum.
Outside of sports and Special Olympics, Jared has worked as a host at Lascari’s Restaurant for seven years. He also runs a candle business with a friend. That’s all in addition to being an actor and appearing on two Nickelodeon series and long-running ABC soap opera “General Hospital.”