Kayla Cornell accepts the 2017 SpartanNash Healthy Athlete of the Year award at the State Summer Games.

Kayla Cornell from Comstock Park, Mich. was named the "2017 SpartanNash Healthy Athlete of the Year" on Thursday, June 1. A crowd of more than 6,000 people at Kelly/Shorts Stadium on the campus of Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant were in attendance. The announcement was made during the Opening Ceremony for the 2017 Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games presented by SpartanNash.

Kayla has been competing with Special Olympics Michigan for 15 years. Her dedication, determination and achievements made her a prime candidate for this award. Whether it was motivating her friends to go to the gym or just working on accomplishing her own goals; she was committed to changing her life. Her commitment has helped her live a healthier life, become a great motivator to others and find her passion.

"You just have to have the dedication for it," said Kayla, "this is just amazing."

Kayla is a great example of someone who is embracing a healthy lifestyle. She has lost 35 pounds through a change in her diet and regular exercise. She works out three or more times a week and 10 months ago she stopped drinking pop.

Kayla competes in gymnastics, volleyball, downhill skiing and swimming. Gymnastics and skiing are her favorite; she even practices them in the off-season to make sure she's in the best shape possible. She'd like to start playing golf and kayaking as well.

"Kayla encourages others on her team, as well as, other teams. She is positive and disciplined," said Area 11 Director Megan Horrocks.

SpartanNash is very interested in helping communities improve their health and wellness. Together with Special Olympics Michigan, SpartanNash honors an athlete each year at State Summer Games, who is a leader among other athletes, and strives for wellness as well as a balance of the mind, body and spirit. They're looking for athletes who exemplify the Special Olympics Athlete Oath: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

The athlete elected as the SpartanNash Healthy Athlete of the Year will become a Global Messenger to share the Special Olympics Michigan mission. They will participate in numerous speaking engagements and store appearances throughout the year, arranged by both Special Olympics Michigan and SpartanNash.

SpartanNash began recognizing Special Olympics Michigan athletes in 2008. They have been supporting Special Olympics Michigan through monetary contributions since 1985. SpartanNash has raised $7 million for year-round athletic training and the State Summer Games. They are a statewide Premier Gold Medal Partner and Presenting Partner of the State Summer Games. They also provide many volunteers and all of the food during the State Summer Games.