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Morning Sun
  • HALL OF FAMER

  • When it comes to Special Olympics, Georgia Neal is extra special.



    That’s why she was inducted in the Special Olympics Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the 2010 Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games in Wichita.

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  • When it comes to Special Olympics, Georgia Neal is extra special.
    That’s why she was inducted in the Special Olympics Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the 2010 Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games in Wichita.
    Athletes are inducted into the Hall of Fame on the basis of participation, sportsmanship, training hours and attitude towards the Special Olympics program.
    Neal is a winner in every one of those categories, according to John Lair, New Hope Services program director and Special Olympics coach.
    “Out of all the athletes I coach, Georgia perfectly gets the idea of Special Olympics,” Lair said. “It doesn’t matter whether she wins or loses, she will always smile, go up to the other athlete and shake hands.”
    She spends more than 300 hours a year training and has participated in every local and state competition for the past 10 years.
    “Georgia competes in 12 different sports throughout the year and is a team captain,” Lair said. “She’ll try any new sport. If she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t have to do it again, but if she does like it, she gives 100 percent. She’s always the first one to ask when our next trip is.”
    Neal said her favorite events include the 10-meter and 25-meter walk and tennis ball throw.
    She’s such an advocate for Special Olympics that she has become a Global Messenger, speaking to community groups about what it means to her.
    “Georgia went to San Francisco for training as a Global Messenger, and I got to go with her,” Lair said.
    “I think Special Olympics is fun,” Neal said. “We have parties, and you get acquainted with people.”
    Sometimes those people are famous, like Priest Holmes, seven-year member of the Kansas City Chiefs and NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2002.
    “We go to the Kansas City Chiefs Clinic every year, and one year Georgia got an award in the punt, pass and kick competition,” Lair said. “She kissed Priest Holmes on the cheek, and he had his best season that year.”
    On a more serious note, Neal’s health has benefited from her participation in Special Olympics. She developed diabetes, and her doctor advised her to lose some weight and increase her Special Olympics activities.
    “She’s lost 40 pounds so far,” Lair said.

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