MU Disability Center announces Henson Access Mizzou Award Winners 2021

Oct. 25, 2021
Contact: Deidra Ashley, 

Created in honor of the University of Missouri’s former ADA coordinator, the Lee Henson Access Mizzou Award honors those who have:

  • Responded above and beyond to a particular disability inclusion or accessibility concern or need on campus;
  • Championed universal design to make Mizzou a more inclusive place for people with disabilities; and/or
  • Demonstrated and modeled a commitment over time to improving the inclusion of people with disabilities or the accessibility of Mizzou’s campus and programs.

This year’s award winners are Ron Lykins, Sophia Martino, Natalie Myers, Jennifer Thornhill and the MizzouRec staff.

Staff award winners: Ron Lykins and Jennifer Thornhill
Lykins headshot

Ron Lykins

Lykins earned the staff award in recognition of his work with disabled student-athletes. Lykins is head coach of the Mizzou wheelchair basketball team and recently led the U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball team to gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

“Ron's passion for the inclusion of disabled students can be seen both on and off the court,” his nomination said. “It is evident that he cares for his student-athletes — not just their ability to perform on the court, but to have a positive and fulfilling experience at Mizzou. He looks for ways to advance disability awareness and has been heavily involved in seeking opportunities for the members of his team to participate in panels or other conversations where they can share their experiences related to disability and inclusion.”

Thornhill created the Adaptive Computing Technology Center in 2004 and was recognized by her colleagues for her dedication to students.

Thornhill headshot

Jennifer Thornhill

“Jennifer has worked tirelessly behind the scenes for 17 years providing alternative textbook formats and accessible course materials for students registered with the Disability Center that receive this accommodation,” her nomination read. “She works directly with the students to get them familiar with assistive technologies that empower them to make the most of their accommodation. She goes the extra mile to ensure the students are comfortable with the technology tools they need to accomplish their academic goals.”

Student award winners: Sophia Martino and Natalie Myers
Martino headshot

Sophia Martino

Martino is a senior human development and family science major and president of the Mizzou Disability Coalition. She was recognized for continually going above and beyond to advocate for accessibility on campus and within Greek life.

Sophia has helped inform faculty on the accessibility needs of students on campus as well as educating students and faculty on the ways in which Mizzou is an accessible campus,” her nomination read. “In addition, Sophia has done a good job of educating students and faculty on what true inclusion, equity and diversity and positive representation looks like for disabled students, through events hosted by the Mizzou Disability Coalition and with the Panhellenic Association accessibility board.”

Myers is a senior computer science major who works in the Adaptive Computing Center. She was recognized for her work ensuring web accessibility.

“The coronavirus pandemic was a critical time for digital accessibility and Natalie is a perfect fit for the job,” her nomination said. “She is ambitious, a quick learner and consistently exceeds my expectations. I can't thank Natalie enough for her dedication to the job, hard work and for being the great person she is.”

Group award winner: MizzouRec staff

The MizzouRec staff was recognized for their continued work making MizzouRec more accessible. The group continually meets with students from the Mizzou Disability Coalition. Those conversations have led to the addition of more inclusive workout machines, altered floor layouts for accessibility and more disability representation throughout the building. The group continues to create a more inclusive and accessible environment in their facility.
Division of Student Affairs employees and MizzouRec student staff pose in front of the tiger mosaic art installation in the MizzouRec

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