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February 05, 2013 | North America: Kentucky

Not Every Man Can Hug the Commandant of the Marines

By Kay Carney Hunter

Rick Oney, an Alpine skier for SO Team USA, competed in running marathons also. The D.C. Special Olympics in conjunction with the Marine Corps Marathon encouraged distance running by SO athletes. SO athletes ran 1 5-k loop or 2 loops for 10-k, right after the marathoners ran by. The SO winners of the 10 and 5 k accepted their awards at the Marathon award ceremony at the Iwo Jima Memorial. The ceremony was all spit and polish with military crispness. One year, General Munday, Commandant of the Corps, stood proudly before the Memorial while a Marine smartly marched out, bearing the wood placque for the SO 10-k winner. The Marine snapped the plaque to the general, the general snapped the plaque to Rick Oney, Rick smothered the general in a hug. The crowd and the general stood in shocked silence while Rick bear hugged Mundy. Finslly the general hugged back and Rick let go. Then the announcer intoned, "Ladies & Gentlemen, Not every man can hug the Commandant of the Marines!" Go Rick!

About Kay Carney Hunter: At age 9, Rick came from the state hospital to the Louisville School for Autistic Children for behavior therapy to have him eat food. He lived on a liquid supplement. I became his foster mother, to prove autistic kids could live in foster care. He's been my son ever since.

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