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Bringing home the gold

The Selma Times-Journal

Michelle Barrett, Myron Leverett, Russell Dupree and Sharilene Norfleet were asked to bring home the gold while competing in the first ever Special Olympics USA National Games in Ames, Iowa.

And that’s just what they did.

On Tuesday, the Cahaba Center congratulated the decorated athletes on their gilded victories during a pizza party sponsored by Dominos Pizza and Pepsi Co. Amid applauding peers, Cahaba Center staff and city officials, Selmians Barrett and Leverett, Dupree of Marion and Norfleet of Uniontown sported their medals with the utmost pride.

The bearer of two medals, Barrett won gold in the standing long jump and bronze in the 50-meter dash.

“My mom says she’s really proud of me, my brother says he proud of me too,” says Barrett, 32. “My mom’s gonna get me a portable DVD player. She says I deserve it and she said she’s glad I’m home.”

Leverett, 31, clinched the gold in the 400-meter relay race and said he was not scared of his competition.

“He was excited the whole time,” said Cahaba Mental Retardation Director Lafon Barlow. “And all the free things he brought back…”

Dupree, 43, earned gold in the 400-meter relay and Norfleet won gold in the shot put. Uniontown Mayor Phillip White, commending Norfleet’s athletic prowess, presented her with a bouquet of flowers.

Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. and Selma City Council President George Evans also offered their praises to the athletes. “I certainly want to commend each of you and all of you. I applaud and congratulate you on your victories,” Evans said. “Keep bringing the gold, bronze and the silver back because all of those count.”

Perkins said the four athletes wouldn’t have the gold if weren’t for the unwavering support of the Cahaba Center staff, Executive Director Patricia Martin and Special Olympics Coach Floyd Sanders, who trained the athletes for one year prior to the games.

Martin thanked local officials in return and commended local community groups such as the Knights of Columbus, who often fund Cahaba Center necessities.

Perkins also said the athletes fulfilled a request he had made before they traveled to Iowa for the games.

“You served as ambassadors for our community,” he told them. “You let them know you’re from Selma and you’re proud to be from Selma and I see you did that.”