JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - There's not one time in the entire year that Rhonda Cox or her family members are not doing something for Special Olympics or Miracle League.
Her husband helps her coach teams. Her parents support her efforts as fans. But, coaching is just an extension of what this Brookland resident does every day.
A Director Support Professional for Focus, Inc., Cox spends most of her days with Noelle Young. Young has been assigned to her for 12 ½ years. By now, she's family.
"I play on the Miracle League with Rhonda," Noelle explained. "I play softball with Rhonda. I do basketball with Rhonda and I do bowling with her."
Rhonda teaches Noelle life skills too in hopes of getting Noelle proficient enough in math to use a checkbook.
"Basically she works one-one-one with our adults that have developmental disabilities," Shannon Cole said. Cole nominated Rhonda for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness award. Cox coaches teams all year for Special Olympics.
"Some of them, once they leave a day program, they don't leave home," Cox said. " Some of them, their caregivers can't drive. So getting involved in Special Olympics is opening up a whole new world for them."
But, not everyone can afford to go to Special Olympics or Sports Camp.
"It costs over $250 for the athlete. We've got two other athletes that need that money right now," Cox explained.
So when we showed her the winnings from First Community Bank and KAIT for being the Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner, Cox was overjoyed.
"For Sports Camp!" she exclaimed holding the money in the air.
In the past, when an athlete didn't have enough money, Cox would take care of it herself.
That attitude, coupled with coaching and organizational skills, earned her an award from Special Olympics. She recently learned that she was the Volunteer of the Year for the state of Arkansas.
"For the state of Arkansas!" Cole exclaimed as she talked about her friend. "That's pretty big, right?"
But, Cox doesn't focus on awards. She wants to bring a new understanding to people who come into contact with someone that has a developmental delay.
"I think people with special needs… sometimes people don't see them as a person," Cox said. "They look at their disability as who they are and it's not."
"She goes above and beyond. Her heart is huge," Cole said. "If ever there's a need for anything, she is always the first person to step up and help."
Rhonda's whole family embraces her efforts. Her brother from California even made it in for her big surprise.
"They all love her," Cole said. "She is like the superstar!"
As her story aired on KAIT, Cox was away from home doing what she loves. She used her $408 to pay for Sports Camp for some of her athletes.
They left on Sunday, July 23—Rhonda Cox's birthday.
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