OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 31, 2012) – Longtime Oklahoma Christian University physical education professor, coach and administrator Max Dobson was honored as a Devon Community Hero on Monday for his decades of work with special-needs children.
Dobson was presented with the honor at Chesapeake Energy Arena during the Oklahoma City Thunder-Phoenix Suns game. The Devon Community Hero award is presented by the Thunder and is designed to honor outstanding Oklahomans who are making a significant difference in their community through their personal contributions of time, talent and-or finances.
The Thunder and Devon have presented the award 24 times since its inception in 2008. Among the previous recipients are civil rights icon Clara Luper, Oklahoma basketball legend Wayman Tisdale, fallen Oklahoma City firefighter Christopher Dill and Oklahoma City police officer Katie Lawson, who was shot and wounded in the line of duty.
"Max, along with (former athletic director Ray Vaughn) are the cornerstones on which Oklahoma Christian athletics have been built,” OC Athletic Director Curtis Janz said. “Faith, integrity, character and service are the qualities that Max has represented and instilled into all who have been around him. I cannot think of anyone that could be more deserving of an award like this than Max.”
Dobson began teaching at Oklahoma Christian in 1966, and in 1976, he began a class called “Teaching the Exceptional Child.” Dobson estimates that since then, at least 3,000 OC students have taken the class and assisted in his efforts to aid special-needs children. Dobson teaches the class in The Barn on OC’s campus every Wednesday and Friday during the academic year.
More than 80 special-needs students currently participate in the program, along with 24 teachers from Edmond Public Schools, allowing the university to partner with a key player in local secondary education.
“I feel like there are so many who are more deserving and I was very surprised to get the call telling me Devon wanted to do this for me,” Dobson said. “I am very appreciative, however. This program has been very close to me for 37 years. The kids are special and I know they love the attention they get when they walk or are carried into The Barn on Wednesdays and Fridays.”
Dobson said the program doesn’t only benefit the special-needs children, but the college students who work with them.
“Some have enrolled in different course numbers so they can work up to three or four semesters with the children,” Dobson said. “I have read hundreds of evaluations on the courses and I keep hearing ‘this course has changed my life.’ I have seen it and their lives have been changed and that is what OC is supposed to be all about.
“God truly has blessed my life by giving me this opportunity to touch the lives of hundreds of children and I could not have done it without the support of these wonderful college students.”
Dobson has spent time as baseball coach, women’s basketball coach and athletic director at OC. He guided the baseball team to a third-place finish in the 1972 NAIA World Series and recruited a guard from Healdton who would become the women’s basketball program’s most prominent alum, Sherri (Buben) Coale.
A video shown during the in-game ceremony Monday included comments from Coale, the longtime head women’s coach at the University of Oklahoma.
Dobson plans to retire from full-time teaching at the end of the 2013 spring semester, although he plans to keep working with the special-needs classes.