Johnny Allen (JK Movement), Lori Prioleau (Summit University Girls Athletic Association), and Lisa Lissimore (Minnesota State High School League) have made significant contributions to the community over the years.
Dr. Leo Lewis figured it was time to recognize the trio for their efforts by honoring them for their leadership in sport and physical activity at the 2021 Lewis Sports Foundation (LSF) Annual Awards Dinner held September 16 at the Minnesota Valley Country Club in Bloomington.
The event is something Lewis, a graduate of the University of Missouri who played for the Minnesota Vikings after an outstanding collegiate career with the Tigers, looks forward to every year as he stressed during a brief interview last week.
“It’s important to honor those who are making a difference,” said Dr. Lewis, who developed the LSF in 1999 to share the impact sports had on his personal development and the influence it has on others. “Sports played a big part in developing my identity and character,” he continued. “I think it is important to acknowledge those who have provided the same leadership and guidance that given to me as a youth.”
This year’s LSF awards recipients represent Lewis’ sentiments.
Allen (Leo E. Lewis Jr. Memorial Practitioner Award) was chosen for developing the JK (Johnny Knuckles) Movement organization to inspire effective change in the development of the mind, body and spirit of young people through physical activity.
A star football player at St. Paul Highland Park during the mid-late 1990s, Allen, who started the JK Movement 10 years ago, went on to graduate from the University of St. Thomas.
Prioleau (Doris M.H. Lewis Memorial Practitioner Award), a St. Paul Central graduate, was at the forefront of creating opportunities for young girls with the development of the Summit University Girls Athletic Association (SUGAA).
Since 1994 SUGAA has provided a platform for girls to develop lifelong skills competing in volleyball, softball and basketball. Many participants in the SUGAA program have gone on to have outstanding high school and collegiate careers as student-athletes and are among today’s outstanding community leaders.
Lissimore (President’s Legacy Award) is being recognized for her 33 years as an associate director of the Minnesota State High School League.
Not only does the St. Paul Central graduate administer the state girls’ basketball, softball, swimming and diving, cross country running, synchronized swimming, and badminton, she also provides young women an opportunity to help facilitate those events. Lissimore was also a starter on the first Class AA State Championship team at St. Paul Central in 1976.
For Dr. Lewis, it was another successful event in which he gave recognition and thanks to those community leaders that make a difference. Dr. Lewis may not realize it, but the occasion acknowledged four community leaders on that Thursday evening.
In addition to Allen, Prioleau, and Lissimore, there was another community leader contributing to the success of the awards event. Current youth leader and former St. Paul Central basketball great Roosevelt Mansfield photographed the event.
That’s what it’s all about.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.