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Kansas Special Olympian receives special honor

Published on -3/15/2013, 3:30 PM

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- A Lawrence weightlifter who won gold medals in the Special Olympics, numerous national titles and hundreds of trophies will become the first Special Olympian inducted into the American Indian Hall of Fame.

When Brady Tanner, 32, is inducted Saturday into the Kansas City, Mo., hall he will join American Indian luminaries such as Billy Mills and Jim Thorpe. He's achieved the distinction despite being born with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, which slows growth and mental development and makes it difficult for him to speak.

Tanner was honored Thursday at a gathering of family and friends at Haskell Indian Nations University, where he has lifted weights for the last 12 years. His personal record for dead-lift is 575 pounds, while squat is 625 pounds and bench-press is 450 pounds, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/16wNxac ).

Speakers at the gathering talked more about Tanner's attitude than his accomplishments.

"When the creator gave him to the Tanners, he was a gift," Haskell administrator Stephen Prue said. "Not only was he a gift to the community and the Haskell family, he was a gift to the world."

His mother, Janie Tanner, said Brady didn't walk until he was 3 or talk until he was 6.

"The fact that he could overcome things and achieve this, it's pretty amazing to me," she said.

And his father, Gary Tanner, thanked people who had helped his son.

"Everyone here was so important to him," Gary Tanner said. "He feeds off of them. (The honor) is an accumulation for all of his efforts and everyone in his life who has supported him, even if it was a pat on the shoulder."

Gary Tanner said Brady's talent was obvious as soon as he started lifting. He won all the events he competed in at his first Special Olympics. From there, he had to set personal goals "because he was so far above his competitors."

The highlight of his career came at the 2011 World Special Olympics Games, when he won gold medals in overall weightlifting, dead-lift and bench-press, as well as a silver medal in squat.

"Brady never says, 'I can't do it,"' his mother said. "He never says no. He always continues to try to do his best, even if it's hard. He always does it with a smile and is always willing to learn."

Brady said he appreciated being honored by the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.

"It feels good," he said with a smile. "I am happy."

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