Saturday event honors Selma’s Special Olympians
Published 6:20 pm Saturday, June 28, 2014
Three athletes from the Selma area traveled to the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey earlier this month, and Saturday they were able to share their experiences with friends at the Cahaba Center for Mental Health.
Tonya Pitts, Shariline Norfleet and John Shephard were honored during a picnic and trophy presentation at the center, and each took a moment to tell the gathered crowd about their favorite part of the trip.
For Pitts, the highlight was the sightseeing trips she was able to take when she wasn’t participating in the games.
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“My favorite part was seeing the Statue of Liberty and New York from the boat,” Pitts said. “It was my first time up there. The games were fun, but that was my favorite part.”
While Shephard said he enjoyed the games the most, Norfleet said it was meeting her competitors that she liked best.
“I met people from Hawaii, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa,” Norfleet said. “I liked meeting people from all over and just having fun. There were a lot of good athletes up there.”
While each came back with two medals — Norfleet won 4th in shot put and 5th in javelin, Shephard was 3rd in javelin and 2nd in shot put and Pitts was 2nd in shot put and 4th in javelin — the awards were outshined by the smiles on their faces as they reminisced on the trip.
“This is one of the biggest events in their lives,” said Floyd, day programs coordinator at the Cahaba Center. “I know it’s something they looked forward to all year long, because it is the culmination of all the hard work they have done over the years. This was like Christmas to these three.”
During Saturday’s ceremony, 36 other Cahaba athletes were honored for their roles on the center’s Special Olympics basketball and track and fields teams.
Each member of the basketball and track and field teams was given a small trophy Saturday, and executive director Lafon Barlow said the awards are prized possessions at the center.
“Today we finally get to celebrate the hard work they’ve all done all year long. When you see them getting their trophies, you can see how much it means to them,” Barlow said. “I know they wouldn’t give those trophies up for a million dollars.