IX AT 50: Topeka’s Bekah Henderson preps for Special Olympics USA Games

“I feel strong. I feel powerful. Girl power all the way.”
Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 10:07 PM CDT
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June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.

“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Bekah Henderson picked up powerlifting for the first time in 2016.

“Other people thought, ‘Oh, you couldn’t do it,’” Henderson said. “I proved them wrong.”

Now, the Special Olympics Hall of Famer is six weeks away from representing Kansas at the Special Olympics USA Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

“I’m so excited,” Henderson said. “I just can’t wait to meet the other girls from other states and just see how they lift. It takes a lot of work, but I’ve been training since 2016 and just fell in love with it.”

She’s no stranger to the big stage.

Henderson competed in bowling at the 2014 USA Games and in swimming in 2018.

All the while, she’s been advocating for Special Olympics and sharing her story as a Global Messenger.

For the past two years, she’s also been a Health Messenger, sharing the importance of living an active lifestyle.

“That’s really important to me,” she said. “Teaching even the young athletes that are just starting, that’s what I want to do. That’s my goal is to teach them - then when they get older to be health messengers and global messengers.”

Henderson hopes to spread the joy of powerlifting, too — lifting up others as she raises the bar for herself.

“If they put their mind to it, and put their heart in it, I feel like they can do it,” she said. “I feel strong. I feel powerful. Girl power all the way.”

The meet starts June 6; you can find the full schedule, here. Henderson will also compete in state powerlifting May 14.

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