‘Special Stars’: Special Olympians honored during Fourth of July event

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, July 6, 2024

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NATCHEZ — During July 4 activities on the Natchez Bluff Thursday, Mayor Dan Gibson and other city officials recognized the local athletes in the Special Olympics who went all the way to compete in state competitions at the Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.

One of them, Shaquille Williams who could not make it to the celebration on Thursday, was named the Special Olympics Athlete of the Year for the State of Mississippi, Gibson said.

Among others honored Thursday were Alan Pitman, Deandre Woods, Gregory Anderson, Roderick Smith, Rose White, Keymon Frazier, Tamara Hollard and 2023 Mississippi Special Olympics Athlete of the Year Thomas Luckett.

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“These special stars make the Miss-Lou so special,” Gibson said. “There are about 15 to 20 more (Special Olympic athletes) who couldn’t make it here today. We will get their certificates to them, including Shaquille Williams who is the Special Olympics Athlete of the Year for the State of Mississippi.”

These Special Stars hold a special place in the heart of Alderman Billie Joe Frazier, whose grandson stands among them, he said.

“We attended the Special Olympics in Biloxi and I’m very proud of these young ladies and men,” Frazier said. “Everyone has a special needs person in their family and we need to take heed to these kids and put more emphasis on taking care of them. Not only Natchez but across the bridge also. … These young ladies and men really represented Natchez well and I would like to see more support from business owners and community leaders for our Special Olympics because they really need our support and help.”

Alderman Curtis Moroney added how proud he is to be from Natchez and take part in such fellowship as celebrated on July 4.

“I’m really proud to be from Natchez and this is another one of those days when it is a great time to be in Natchez,” he said. “We’re going to have a spectacular sunset in a little while and it’s events like this when we all come together, share some time and just experience what it’s like to be from a small town. You can’t find that in a big city. There is nowhere like Natchez.”

The festivities Thursday concluded with the annual Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza, a grand display of fireworks shot off from the Mississippi River for the entire Miss-Lou to see.

The event is made possible by the sponsors who donate to the nonprofit Miss Lou Fireworks organized by Shelter Insurance agent Sabrina Doré. Curtis Elkins of Pyromania Fireworks put together the show.