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Jimmy Collins Special Awards

While there are many different categories of awards presented by the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, some years the committee finds that there are people deserving of recognition who do not necessarily fit into one specific category. For that reason, the Committee presents the Jimmy Collins Special Awards to outstanding individuals and organizations. Collins was a longtime New Orleans sportswriter who is credited with creating the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards and forming the awards committee in 1958.

 2018   Joe Este  Bonnabel High School
  Brittany Grunberg  50 Legs Foundation
 2017  Miracle League of New Orleans  New Orleans
 2016  Princeton Carter  Isidore Newman School
 Gabrielle Jennings  First Baptist Christian School
 2015  Manny Barocco  Jefferson Parish Athletics
 Jim Ravannack  Louisiana wrestling
 2014  Rob Bernardi  Nicholls State Athletics
 Paul Hoolahan  Allstate Sugar Bowl
 Ragin’ Cajun Athletics  UL-Lafayette
 Mark Slessinger  UNO Basketball
 2013  Team Gleason  Team Gleason
 Robin and Sally-Anne Roberts  New Orleans
 2012  J.T. Curtis  John Curtis School
 Bo McCalebb  O.P. Walker HS/UNO Basketball
 2011  Tyler Dutruch  Pope John Paul II
 Lurlyn Fitzpatrick  Tulane University
 2010  Sandra Bullock  Warren Easton HS
 Kelly Gibson  New Orleans golf
 New Orleans Boosters  AAABA Baseball
 Harold Shelly  New Orleans
 2009  Jim Headrick  First Tee of New Orleans
 2008  Dolphin Baseball  Delgado Community College
 Privateer Baseball  UNO
2004 Churchill Downs Fair Grounds Race Course
2003 Mewelde Moore Tulane Football
LSU Football Team SEC & BCS
Southern University Football SWAC & NCAA
 2002  George Shinn & Ray Woolridge  New Orleans Hornets
 2001  Super Bowl XXXVI Host Committee
 Tommy Henry  LHSAA
2000  Randy Mueller  New Orleans Saints
1999  Brother Martin Wrestling  LHSAA
 New Orleans Times-Picayune
 1990  Alvin Gauthier  Cohen High School basketball
 New Orleans Sports Foundation
 1988  Risen Star  Horse Racing
 1986  Louis “Red” Slade  New Orleans
 1985  Tom Benson  New Orleans Saints
 Lou Messina
 1984  Carl Maddox  National Sports Festival
 1983  Joe Delaney  Kansas City Chiefs
 Dave Dixon  New Orleans/Superdome
 1981  Firmin E. Simms  NORD/Biddy Basketball
 Brother Melchior Polowy  Holy Cross Wrestling
 1980  Brother Martin Hernandez
 1979  Joseph Dorignac, Jr.  Fairgrounds Racing
 B.E. Lumzy  Carter Woodson Junior High
 Ben Weiner  Tulane University
 1978  Commercial Athletic Association
 Joe’s Jungle Marching Club
 Sports Acrobatic School
1975  Art Burke  New Orleans States-Item
1974  Jim Hall  Louisiana Weekly
1973  John North  New Orleans Saints
1972  Herbert J. Hauck  Amateur Golf
1971  Dave Dixon  Superdome
1970  Lester Lautenschlaeger  New Orleans Recreation Dept.
 Hoss Memtsas  West Jefferson Football
1969  Doug Atkins  New Orleans Saints
 Jack Van Berg  Thoroughbred Horse Racing
1968  John Letellier  Fairgrounds Racing
1967  John W. Mecom, Jr.  New Orleans Saints
1966  Dave Dixon  New Orleans Pro Football
1965  Jim Corbett  LSU
1964  William H. Bishop  Thoroughbred Horse Racing
1963  Jackie Higgins  New Orleans

In 2018, the Committee chose to recognize two individuals, both of whom are being recognized for their selfless efforts to help others while overcoming tremendous obstacles. They are Brittany Grunberg and Joe Este.

Photo Courtesy of Brittany Grunberg

Grunberg was 18 years old and a freshman nursing student at Southeastern Louisiana University when she lost both of her legs after a bout with bacterial meningitis. She had been an active young woman at St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace, who enjoyed several sports. Now, she could barely walk on the ill-fitting prosthetics she was forced to use.

Grunberg’s family sought the help of Stan Patterson, the owner of Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates in Orlando, Florida, which specializes in custom-fitted prosthetics for individuals who have lost limbs.

With new, custom legs, Brittany said her life was changed. She attended school in California to get her own certification in Prosthetics, then returned to New Orleans to open her own location of Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates in Metairie. Now she devotes her life to helping Louisiana residents receive their own custom-fitted prosthetics, especially those designed to help patients lead an active lifestyle.

For the past three years, Grunberg has participated in the annual Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic, helping to raise money for the 50 Legs Foundation, an organization which helps pay for prosthetics for those who otherwise can’t afford them.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Este

Este is a former Bonnabel High School Bruin with a dream.

A 6-foot, 200-pound strong safety who transferred from Copiah-Lincoln Community College to the University of Tennessee-Martin in 2016. He finished his two-year Division I career with 129 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 18 pass breakups and four interceptions. He also was timed at 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

While pursuing his dream and playing college football, Este also took in his two nephews, Zackary, 7, and Christopher, 6, juggling school, football and being a single parent. A year later, he took in his mom, who had spent the previous two years homeless back in New Orleans.

Now that his college career has ended, Este and his family are still together. He is still working toward his goal of making an NFL roster – he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tennessee Titans this summer and will enter the preseason in the Titans camp. He also is trying to locate his missing sister so that he can formally adopt his two nephews.

Even if Este doesn’t get that golden contract, however, he has another dream. He plans to register for grad school and then to medical school to become a pediatrician.

Story submitted by Lori Lyons of the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee.

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