Celebrating a Longtime Champion

For 22 years, Orlando journalist Jim Payne has been a champion of Special Olympics Florida.

The longtime WESH2 anchor has served on our board and volunteered as our gala master of ceremonies. He’s raised money through the Polar Plunge and led public speaking training seminars for our Athlete Leaders. He’s been a vocal supporter of our mission and, most importantly, a tremendous friend to our athletes.

Now, Jim is winding down his television career. He’ll sign off in September, swapping the heat of Florida for the chill of the Nevada mountains. His legacy here, though, will be felt for decades.

Special Olympics Florida honored Jim recently with a retirement celebration in Winter Park. Jim mingled with athletes he’s gotten to know over the years and even sat down for a short interview conducted by Special Olympics Florida athlete and staff member Maryann Gonzalez.

When the veteran journalist began asking instead of answering questions, Maryann deftly turned the tables: “Tonight,” she told Jim, “is about you.”

And that night was well deserved.

“Jim has had a huge impact on our team and our athletes,” said Special Olympics Florida President and CEO Sherry Wheelock. “He has helped shape our organization and our future. He has been a tremendous advocate and incredibly generous with his time. We wish him well, and we will miss him terribly.”