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MR/DD Awareness efforts were huge success

Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Awareness month has just concluded and was it a great success.

Events began with Soup and Sandwich Night at the Early Childhood Center, followed by an evening dance at Tri-State Industries, balloon launches at Open Door and Early Childhood Center, March Madness Basketball at the Dawson-Bryant High School Gym, and finally the annual Chili Fest and Craft Show, again at the Dawson-Bryant High School Gym.

The MR/DD food drive concluded with food distributed to the following food pantries for those who are truly in need in this time of economic hardship: Chesapeake Church of the Nazarene, Church of Christ – Ironton, Community Mission Outreach – Chesapeake, First United Methodist – Ironton, Michael’s Grace Place – South Point, and New Hope United Methodist – Proctorville.

More than 400 people attended the final event. Some of the best and spiciest chili known to man was served to the public on March 28.

Patrons had the chance to sample 19 different chili recipes. For arts and crafts lovers, the exhibits displayed were a dream come true as 15 crafters displayed their wares. Door prizes were awarded to many lucky patrons.

Media coverage by all mediums, newspaper, radio, and television, for these events has been outstanding.

The Ironton Tribune, publisher Mike Caldwell, and staff deserve special mention for their longstanding commitment to and support of the MR/DD programs in Lawrence County.

County Commissioners, Les Boggs, Doug Malone, and Jason Stephens, proclaimed March MR/DD Awareness Month in Lawrence County as well as attending many of the events, including the Chili Fest.

This year’s MR/DD statewide theme was Just Like You. While the clients of the Early Childhood, Open Door School, and Tri-State Industries have been identified with a disability, they prove on a daily basis that they are truly Just Like You and me and everyone else on this earth. I remember the answer a famous athlete gave a reporter when asked how he and his wife handled having a special needs child.

His answer, “If the Lord didn’t think we could handle it, he wouldn’t have blessed us with our child.” As this month long celebration of MR/DD comes to a close, let’s hope that each and every one of us remembers that Just Like You is a 365-day a year celebration.

The annual Lawrence County Special Olympics will be held on May 7, at the Fairland High School Track, 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

This event, begun in 1974, will celebrate its 35th anniversary with over 350 athletes from Chesapeake, Dawson-Bryant, Fairland, Ironton, Open Door, Rock Hill, South Point, and Symmes Valley participating. I had the privilege of serving as Special Olympics Coordinator in 1976, ’77, ’79, and ‘80 and know what a huge undertaking this event is. I hope to see all of you there!

Speaking of anniversaries, 2009 has several Lawrence County Sports Birthdays. The Waterloo Wonders won the first of two State Championships in Basketball in 1934 75 years ago. The Ironton Fighting Tigers football team won a State Football Championship in 1979; 30 years ago. They repeated as State Football Champions exactly 10 years later in 1989; 20 years ago. Congratulations to all.

Mike Nourse is a retired educator and contributing columnist for The Tribune. He lives in Coal Grove with wife Clara Gail, also a retired educator.