A local icon has passed. I think everyone is familiar with the Radio story, at least if you are from the South. A book and movie chronicled the story of a mentally challenged young man who was befriended by a coach, school and community. Radio went on to be what I call the “Bell Ringer” for his school.
If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s worth the rental with Cuba Gooding playing James “Radio” Kennedy and Ed Harris playing Coach Harold Jones. I was lucky enough to have met both Radio and Coach Jones as we squared off against each other on many fields of athletic endeavor. It was always a joy, win or lose to meet up with Radio.
Many small towns, even some larger ones, have bell ringers like Radio. I call them bell ringers because of one special man who rang the victory bell at a local high school’s football field. Some were flag bearers as they led their football team onto the field, through the goal post and hopefully on to victory. One, after growing old in age but not spirit, was buried in the local Legion baseball uniform. Undying loyalty even in death.
Young men who grew old but never quite grew up. For some reason, God chose them to be both challenged and special. They were folks who in addition to being challenged, were special to their schools and were their school’s number one fan and “Bell Ringer.” They all possessed the wide-eyed wonderment and innocence associated with the young every time their teams took the field.
Radio passed last night at seventy-three. He had been in bad health, in and out of the hospital will complications due to diabetes and kidney function. His hugs and smiles will be missed by the school and community.
Last year the CBN network and 700 Club aired an interview and article on Radio’s and Coach Jones’s fifty-year friendship. I cannot improve upon it so I will simply share it. The link is…. https://www1.cbn.com/act-kindness-results-50-year-friendship.
You should take the time to watch the interview or read the article. It not Coach Jones’s final quote is “People with special needs, you know, they give us more love than we can actually return.” Radio certainly provided a lot of love.
Don Miller is a retired teacher and coach who is still trying to write the next great American novel. His author’s page may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM
The image is of Harold Jones and Radio Kennedy and came from Greenville Online.