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The Cahaba Center honored nearly 40 consumers for their achievements in the state Special Olympics Wednesday during a program at Paul M. Grist State Park. Above, Jerry Osborne smiles as he recieves his award for track and field from current deputy grand knight of the Knights of Columbus Paul Robitaille. The Knights of Columbus have been supporting the Cahaba Center for 34 years. -- Katie Wood

Selma Special Olympians honored for achievements

Published 10:26pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nearly 40 consumers from the Cahaba Center were honored Wednesday for their achievements in the state Special Olympics that were held in Troy this past May. The awards program was held at Paul M. Grist State Park and the Cahaba Center caravanned 140 consumers to participate in the outdoor celebration.

“We had our local games the first of April here in Selma and the winners from that game went over the Troy for the state Special Olympics,” Floyd Sanders, who has served as the Special Olympics coordinator at the Cahaba Center since 1979 said. “This is the recognition of the state winners.”

And while the awards program is something the Cahaba Center hosts each year, this year they decided to mix things up and host it outdoors at the state park.

“This is the first time we’ve had it out here,” Sanders said, noting in the past they’ve always hosted the program at their building on Medical Center Parkway. “We’re just doing it here this year to do something different.”

Sanders said the program would allow consumers to swim, go on boat rides, fish and enjoy a picnic outdoors.

“We’re just going to make a full day of it,” he said.

Though consumers from the Cahaba Center participate in Special Olympics basketball games, swimming and track and field, the event only recognized their state achievements in track and field.

As the program began, Sanders and LaFon Barlow, executive director for the Cahaba Center for Mental Health, presented members of the Selma Council of the Knights of Columbus with a token of appreciation as the Knights of Columbus have helped fund and support the Cahaba Center’s involvement in the Special Olympics for the past 34 years.

“We’ve been having the Special Olympics for 34 years and they’ve been a faithful supporter for each and every year,” Sanders said. “We couldn’t have this event that’s going on now or have these consumers participating without their support.”

Paul Robitaille, current deputy grand knight of the Knights of Columbus said, supporting the Cahaba Center is just one way the organization gives back to the community.

“We feel that as long as we’re able to, we feel like we should give some of what we do back to the community,” Robitaille said, adding this year the Knights of Columbus donated $4,800 to the Cahaba Center.

“Because they support us, this is one of the best programs we have at the Cahaba Center,” Barlow said, noting the majority of the funds are used for travel expenses to regional and national events as well as for the local games themselves. “It helps give these folks the opportunity to not only compete at home but compete at other places, and that helps teach them about the world, because they get to get out and see other places.”

Before Barlow announced each of the names of the award winners, she told all of the consumers how proud she was of their achievements.

“Y’all try very, very hard. Everybody that went out there and tried is a winner,” she said, smiling.

The consumers chanted the Special Olympics oath in unison as the awards were presented, saying, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

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