Special Olympians honored

Published 8:37 pm Saturday, June 16, 2012

Rasoe More, left, and Robin Hale pose after Cahaba Mental Health Center's annual Special Olympics award ceremony. The athletes treasure their awards, they even wear their medals daily.

Smiles were on, what seemed to be, every face at the Cahaba Mental Health facility’s annual Special Olympics Award Ceremony on Saturday, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

Executive Director of Cahaba Mental Health, Lafon Barlow said the most rewarding thing to her about the Special Olympic awards is the smiles and grins on the faces of the athletes.

“None of our folks here feel like they come in second, they all feel like they come in first,” Barlow said. “They don’t care about places they are just happy to have done it and participated.”

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Barlow said the awards that they received at the ceremony on Saturday are something the athletes cherish and carry with them through the years. At the beginning of the ceremony Special Olympics coordinator for Cahaba, Floyd Sanders, told a story about one of the athlete’s house that burned down. When Sanders arrived at the home that had burnt down the athlete cried the most about his awards that were lost.

“He was more devastated about his trophies being lost than anything else. More than all of his clothing and he cried more about his awards than any of his other stuff,” Sanders said.

Barlow said the athletes wear their medals on a daily basis.

“That’s not just for today,” Barlow said. “If you were to come back next week you would see them still wearing the medals.”

In the ceremony Sanders had something to say about each of the 36 athletes that were awarded trophies. He spoke about Tonya Pitts and how she competed in China previously to represent Alabama. He spoke about Wade Walker who couldn’t fall asleep before the competition at Troy because he was just so excited. But all stories represented the love and passion these athletes have for the game.

The Cahaba Center for Mental Health dedicated their games this year to two athletes who recently passed away—John William Fain and Donielle Rudolph.

A picture of Fain still hangs in the health center’s ceramics room. Fain is crossing the finishing line and his hands are high in the air in victory, a huge smile is on his face.

“He never won first place a time that I can recall but every time he crossed the line that was the expression on his face,” Sanders said about Fain. “He never came in last in his mind, just to be able to compete and accomplish something meant something to him.”