Hodges has been doing SO sports for six years. He was part of Gadsden City High Schools SO basketball team that earned a state championship last year; he competes in track and field and he’s on the swim team.
“With swimming, he is one of the key leaders who also strives to do his best and help others,” GCSH Special Olympics Coach Christine Lowery wrote in her nomination.
She wrote that Hodges always wants to improve his skills. He’s working on swimming the 100 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,” she said.
He’s also been a key leader on that championship basketball team, Lowery said, encouraging new players to listen to their coach and to do their best.
Hodges ran the 400 meters last year and wants to do the 800 meters this year, Lowery said. He runs extra laps and works out to improve his athletic abilities.
And he loves to talk about and share his love of sports with others, according to his coach.
“All of our students’ achievements are something we take great pride in,” Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Ed Miller said, 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. He’s very conscientious about schoolwork; teachers brag about him 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 cafÃ© within the Gadsden Public Library.
Hodges received his plaque in front of a assembly Monday morning, with cheerleaders, the school’s mascot, family members and fellow students.
After getting his plaque, he headed back to his seat, and to a handful of high-fives from his fellow Special Olympians.
Alabama Power Service Organization also was honored with an Outstanding Service award for 2016.
Allison Lee, special education administrator for Gadsden City Schools, said 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, she said, it cooks and serves it.
‘They’ve been a tremendous relief and blessing,” Lee said of the lunches they provide, which allow schools from across the 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.