Sports inspires a lot of lives

Published 3:55 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2009

While covering Saturday’s celebration of the 19th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) at the Bainbridge Middle School cafeteria, I got to thinking about how much sports is a part of so many people’s lives.

I remembered what a strong basketball player Virginal Close Harris was at Bainbridge High School. She is now the executive director of Bainbridge Advocacy Individual Network (BAIN) Inc. Center For Independent Living, which sponsored Saturday’s activities.

She and former Bainbridge High School lady Cats head basketball coach Babs Coyle formed an excellent forward combo for coach Bobby Trawick’s Lady Cats.

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Then I heard my old buddy Billy Simmons Jr., keynote speaker for the day, talk about driving motorcycles and three-wheelers as a high school student in Tampa, Fla.

Whether you are disabled or non-disabled, sports can be a great outlet. By participating in them you can learn a lot of positive qualities like competitiveness, sportsmanship and teamwork.

I make my living covering and writing about sports, but I am the first to realize that, while they are good outlets, they do not involve life and death matters.

They can, however, often relieve some of the stress in our every day lives.

Saturday, while listening to Virginia, Billy and other disabled citizens talk about the importance of sports in their lives, I was both impressed and inspired.

I was especially impressed to hear the presentation of Derrick Wooten, a young man who talked about wheelchair games.

Everyone who made a presentation at Saturday’s ADA anniversary celebration, from Virginia to Billy to Derrick, was inspirational.

Virginia has always been an inspiration to me. Becoming disabled following an outstanding Bainbridge High School Lady Cats basketball career, she didn’t let it get her down.

Instead she followed through on a vision to help other disabled persons live independently.

She said that vision, given to her by the Lord, led her to found BAIN Inc., which has helped local disabled citizens live independent lives.

I’d like to conclude by talking a little more about the inspiration Billy has been to me and other Bainbridge and Decatur County citizens.

Before I begin, let me admit that I am a little prejudice when it comes to Billy because he is such a dear friend.

He is just as smart and driven to succeed as anyone I know. He earned a college degree in computer graphics and is extremely knowledgeable in the computer field.

He has his own Web site, and I am sure he has forgotten more about computers than I will ever know. He doesn’t let any obstacle stand in his way, and I have no doubt that he will be successful in whatever he does the rest of his life.

This summer, Billy popularly known as the No. 1 Bainbridge High School Bearcats and Lady Cats sports fan, underwent corrective foot surgery, which will ultimately help him walk better. It is just another hurdle that he is clearing fine.

Thanks Billy for being such a great inspiration to so many people.