MEDFORD (WAOW) -- Ron Blackburn is the January 2011 recipient of Newsline 9's Jefferson Award. Blackburn never dreamed he'd find his calling in life miles away from his farm.
"We used to dairy and I would have just thought I'd just die right here alongside these cows," said Blackburn, "but it didn't work out that way. God had other plans, I guess."
In his twenty years of working with disabled people, he's helped organize many events around his community, including a kickball tournament and the annual bowling game for the Special Olympics. But with Blackburn, it's not about winning or losing -- it's about having a good time.
"Everybody goes away with a trophy and prizes," said Blackburn.
"He just sets a wonderful example," said Susan Adams, who nominated Blackburn for the award.
Adams started working with Blackburn at Black River Industries more than ten years ago. She said when she first met him, she felt a little nervous.
"He's huge," said Adams. "He's very hulky and you have no idea what a wonderful sweet teddy bear he is when you finally realize what he has done for everyone."
But now, she knows better.
"He is a trickster to be sure," said Adams. "He loves to wear costumes, anything that will make people laugh at him or probably with him."
Blackburn works hard and plays hard too. In addition to helping out at special events, he encourages everyone else to step up their game.
"He will tell them, I don't know how much you're going to collect, but gee it would be nice if you could collect a thousand dollars," said Adams. "I'd let you shave my head."
And he was true to his word. After reaching the goal, contributors helped shave Blackburn's head clean. Even though Blackburn usually attends events himself, sometimes people are surprised to see one of his alternate personas.
"You never know who's going to show up," said Blackburn. "Santa Claus, Mrs Claus, Space Cadet Granny." The list goes on and on.
Blackburn tries to bring everyone together in his small community. And the way he does it speaks for itself.
"What he does, he does purely from his heart," said Adams, "does it out of love for these people and he cared deeply about them."
"Where ever we go where there's special athletes, they come and find us and that makes us feel pretty good," said Blackburn.
Through all his work, Blackburn said his proudest moments are the ones that he isn't even involved in at all.
"That's the part that probably makes me the most proud," said Blackburn. "We just step back and guys just do go it."
Ron is a huge Bears fan. As an incentive for one fundraiser, he got stuck wearing a Packers jersey. But this weekend, he'll probably be back to wearing his orange and blue.
Online Reporter: Anna Carrera
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