This past weekend was a special one for Dave Kinen.
On Friday, the former high school wrestling coach and elementary PE teacher was honored by the school district he had served for 12 years. Prior to the game, the Chillicothe Booster Club had sold T-shirts and accepted donations. All proceeds went to help fund Kinen's fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the medical condition more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. The Booster Club sold around 900 shirts and raised nearly $10,000. During halftime of the Friday night football game versus St. Joseph Benton, members of the Booster Club and students of the Career Independence class at Grand River Technical School presented Kinen with the check.
During the presentation, High School Principal Brian Sherrow said Kinen's impact in both the classroom and in many coaching capacities has been profound.
"(Kinen) has always been dedicated to the individuals and teams he has coached, striving to instill sportsmanship and to help develop the best skills possible in his athletes," Sherrow said. "His love of wrestling has always been evident in the passion he instilled in many young men as he taught them to be champions and to be gracious when they were not. He developed character as well as athletic skill and competition strategy."
Kinen coached for an additional two seasons after his initial ALS diagnosis in 2009. From 2000 through 2012, he led two Hornets wrestling teams to two top 15 state finishes, had 37 individual state qualifiers, 12 state medalists and one state champion. Kinen still travels to every match, home and away, and speaks to every wrestler before and after his matches.
Sherrow concluded the presentation Friday evening stating Kinen has been an inspiration to the Chillicothe community, both inside and outside the schools.
"He has inspired the 'Never Quit' movement for our students, which has raised thousands of dollars for ALS research," Sherrow explained. "His impact on this community is more evident now than ever. Even today, Coach Kinen greets former students and their parents as he moves throughout our town in a motorized wheelchair. He is a heart-warming presence in our community; an example of all he taught in his teaching and coaching years and in the years since his diagnosis."
During a ceremony Sunday afternoon in Columbia, Mo., Kinen was honored by the Missouri Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as the 2013 Medal of Courage recipient. The Medal of Courage is presented annually to a wrestler or former wrestler who has overcome what appear to be insurmountable challenges, which may be physical, mental or other handicaps that make their achievements all the more uplifting. Kinen said the award means a lot, as wrestling has been a major part of his life for nearly four decades.
"It's hard to describe," Kinen said when asked how he felt about being awarded the Medal of Courage. "It is truly an honor to be receiving this award. Wrestling has taught me to never give up. Never quit."