Topeka athlete inducted into Special Olympics Kansas Hall of Fame

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 10:16 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - From the track, to the pool, to the court, to the course, Bekah Henderson does it all.

“I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Special Olympics," Bekah, 29, said, “I’m doing basketball, swimming, track, powerlifting, softball, bocce, bowling, volleyball, and snowshoeing.”

Bekah took part in her first Special Olympics practice her freshman year of high school.

“When I first joined, I was shy. I was really, really shy. I didn’t talk to people much," she said. "Then after the first practice, I was like wow, this is awesome.”

In the 14 years since, she’s competed in Team USA events across the country.

Soon, she’ll take her talents to the international stage. Bekah is set to compete in snowshoeing in the 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Russia.

“I just feel like that’s my moment," Bekah said. "I feel like that’s my time to shine.”

But Bekah’s legacy in Special Olympics goes far beyond her athletic achievements.

“She likes to help others, that’s one of her strengths," Cathy Henderson, Bekah’s mom, said. "When she gets out there, she truly cheers on her friends.”

“She’s the first won to congratulate somebody else," Detective Kristi Powell with the Topeka Police Department said. "She’s the first one either giving them a hug, shaking their hand, giving them a high-five, and congratulating them for their efforts.”

Over the weekend, Bekah’s friends with TPD surprised her with the news of a lifetime.

“We’re here to celebrate you," Powell said at the gathering. "Because you’re going to be inducted into the 2020 Special Olympics Hall of Fame.”

“I was like, this is not possible - and it was," Bekah smiled. "It was a big surprise.”

“It’s that once in a lifetime award," Powell added. "She’s tried different things and been involved, and also been an advocate, not only for herself but also for other athletes and certainly Special Olympics on a larger state and global level.”

“It has given her an opportunity to share her voice, to share her story, and to show people that just because you’re differently abled doesn’t mean you’re disabled," Cathy said. "It means you learn differently, but you can do anything that you empower yourself to do. She truly believes in herself now.”

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