Patriots Linebackers Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich grabbed the chance to help honor Cambridge Program Director David Tynes with Boston.com’s Your Town Coach of the Year Award Monday.
Fresh off their victory over the Redskins Sunday, Mayo and Ninkovich joined fellow athletes at the Cambridge Program to honor Tynes, who has been working with mentally and physically challenged people there for more than 20 years.
Tynes runs in the Boston Marathon every year to help raise money for the program and he helped establish Cambridge Special Olympic teams through the program. Under his coaching, several athletes have gone on to the Special Olympic Hall of Fame.
“He’s the Bill Belichick of Special Olympics,” said Paul Ryder, the director of Cambridge’s Recreation Department, which supported the formation of the program more than 35 years ago.
Tynes received 46 percent of the vote to win Coach of the Year Award for 2010, beating several other coaches in the region.
The award was given by Boston.com's Your Town to recognize coaches for the differences they make in the lives of young people in the community. Other nominees included Tewksbury’s Rick Menard; Marshfield High School Coach Bob Fisher; Judy Schneider, of Hanover; and Kevin Gildea of Belmont.
Tynes, who is from Cambridge but lives in Newton, teaches at Horace Mann Elementary School in Newton weekdays, and spends afternoons and evenings at the Cambridge Program on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The program teaches athletics and life skills to mentally and physically challenged people ages six to about 60, he said.
Tynes is 49 years old and has a sister with a disability. He said he got his start at the Cambridge Program as a volunteer before becoming staff.
In addition to coaching Special Olympic teams of all ability levels, he’s also coached the men’s basketball team to seven state championships.
Michelle Kelly, the assistant director at the Cambridge Program, said she nominated Tynes because it has been his leadership that has enabled the program to grow to serve about 90 people today.
“He just has this innate ability to work with people of all abilities,” Kelly said.
Mayo and Ninkovich told participants in the Cambridge Program to follow the hard working example of Tynes and it will pay off. The two Patriots also spent time posing for photos with the special needs athletes of the Cambridge Program.