Kevin Roundtree: “Special Olympics Athlete of the Year”

Gigi Tinsley | 9/26/2013, 9 a.m.
In too many instances, children of color who have mental challenges are not granted the same kinds of opportunities that ...
Kevin Roundtree: “Special Olympics Athlete of the Year”

In too many instances, children of color who have mental challenges are not granted the same kinds of opportunities that whites receive. At least that’s what Courtney Haynes, the father of a mentally-challenged, 17-year-old child, says.

“Members of society often demonstrate by their actions that children of color, especially Blacks with special needs and limitations, are not worthy,” he said. “Therefore, they are not informed of programs that are designed to help instill pride and self-esteem like others are.”

But then there’s always one youth who somehow manages to overcome the obstacles, even with limited access to programs and special training. Kevin Roundtree, 21, is a senior at Southridge High School and a star Special Olympic who has gone on and achieved despite his limitations. His parents died when he was very young and so he was raised by his aunt, Virginia Dassaw. He is youngest of six boys. He was formerly known as “Little K” because of the position he held with his siblings —the youngest. However, today he is called “Special K” due to the achievements he had made in the Special Olympics athletic program.

“The nickname fits like a glove,” says Southridge Principal Bianca Calzadilla. “He is special. Though intellectually disabled — reading and writing at an elementary school level —Kevin has won the hearts and respect of everyone with whom he comes in contact. He is described by those who know him as warm and outgoing, with a tireless work ethic and true leadership skills.

Making each day count

“Kevin gets up each school day morning and walks to school and gets there before 6:30 a.m.,” Dassaw said. “He works in the cafeteria and everyone loves the way he does his job.”

Calzadilla adds, “He is amazing. I would hire him if I could or clone him. He works hard at everything he does and is humble.

“He’s the best,” said Marcy Pena, a teacher at Southridge and a Special Olympics coach. “He is reliable. I would trust him with my life.”

Kevin’s teacher and Special Olympics coach Jodi English has coached him for five of the eight years and says he’s a very special young man.

“Kevin is the best player on all the teams,” she said. “He is our MVP and gives 150 percent on the field and in the classroom and never complains. Soccer is his favorite sport. He won’t come out of a game no matter what. Our teams are co-ed and sometimes we play agains all-boy teams. Sometimes these teams get a little rough with our girls, but Kevin is always there to protect them. He is a peacemaker and a real gentleman.”

Kevin will be honored by the Miami-Dade County School Board later this month.