Courtesy of gadsdencityathletics.com
The Gadsden City High student body gave the school’s Special Olympians a standing ovation on Monday (Dec. 12) and repeated that action for David Hodges, who was named Alabama’s Special Olympics 2016 Athlete of the Year.
Hodges has been doing Special Olympic sports for six years and was part of the Titans’ SO basketball team that won a state championship last year. He also competes in track and field and is a member of the swim team.
“With swimming, David is one of the key leaders who also strives to do his best and help others,” GCHS Special Olympics Coach Christine Lowery wrote in her nomination.
She added that Hodges is working on swimming the 100-meter freestyle and has learned to do the backstroke.
“Because he wants to do the 100 freestyle, other swimmers are also wanting to try to swim this distance,” said Lowery.
In track, Hodges ran the 400-meters last year and wants to do the 800-meter event this year, Lowery said.
“All of our students’ achievements are something we take great pride in,” said Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Ed Miller said in congratulating Hodges and his fellow athletes.
Hodges is more than just a jock, however. Lowery – a Special Olympics coach for 24 years – called him a very polite and considerate young man. Very conscientious about his schoolwork; teachers brag about Hodges for his efforts in his “Learning to Read” class.
He also is part of the Beautiful Rainbow Catering after-school program, which teaches students to garden and cook healthy meals, operates a catering business and soon will operate a cafe within the Gadsden Public Library. Hodges was chosen as the student to appear on ABC 33/40 Talk of the Town discussing Beautiful Rainbow Catering.
In addition, Alabama Power Service Organization was recognized with an Outstanding Service award for 2016.
Gadsden City Schools special education administrator Allison Lee said that since 2008, the APSO (made up of Alabama Power employees) has provided lunch for 1,200 or more students and staffers for the spring Special Olympics event at Gadsden City’s Titan Stadium. The organization not only supplies the food but cooks and serves it.
“They’ve been a tremendous relief and blessing,” Lee said of the lunches the APSO provides, which allows schools from across Etowah County to bring their athletes to compete without worrying about what they’re going to eat.
APSO President Tony Smith, office manager for Gadsden and Attalla, accepted the award.