Olympians and Paralympians to be Inducted at Champaign Olympic Monument
Ten members of Champaign County's Olympic tradition will be honored Saturday, July 3rd, at the monument built as a tribute to all area Olympians.
Six of the ten people to be inducted at the Tribute to Olympic Athletes are Paralympians, who compete in their own games that run parallel to the Olympics.
One is University of Illinois administrator Brad Hedrick, who was a member of the bronze-winning men's wheelchair basketball team at the 1980 Paralympics in Arnhem, Holldan, and placed second in the marathon in the 1984 games. Four years later, he coached the US women's basketball team to its first Paralympics gold in South Korea.
Hedrick says athletes with disabilities have had an upward climb to win respect over the decades - in fact, it wasn't until recently that Paralympians were recognized on the Champaign monument despite the area's history of Paralympic training. But he says that discrimination is melting away.
Hedrick says as younger generations grow up and attend both the Olympics and Paralympics, "I think the chasm that some may see as being wide will be narrowing in the eyes of future generations."
Hedrick's 1988 gold-medal team included two women who will also be inducted Saturday -- Terri Goodknight and Barbara Yoss.
Hedrick says he's honored to be in the same list as Jack Whitman -- he was known as the father of wheelchair archery in America when he won gold medals at the 1960 and 1964 Paralympic Games, at a time when athletes with disabilities faced widespread discrimination.
"He had such grace", remembers Hedrick. "And I still say he was the greatest 60-year-old athlete, and I owe him a lot."
The dedication ceremony will also honor two speedskaters from the 2010 Vancouver winter Olympics, Katherine Reutter and Jonathan Kuck. Also on the list is wrestler Mark Johnson, whose 1980 team never made it to the boycotted Moscow Olympics.
The ceremony begins at 10 AM, Saturday, July 5th, at at the Tribute to Olympic Athletes monument, in Dodds Park in Champaign.