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Nothing but smiles at the O-A Gymnasium

By Tasia Boland

Saturday evening at the Oakfield-AlabamaHigh School, the late 1st. Lt. Harmon J. Norton, Dr. Kenneth Bradt, Dr. Robert B. Diasio and Donald R. Carroll were inducted into the O-A Hall of Fame.

The Hornets' gymnasium was filled with about 100 friends and family of the inductees.

O-A students, Jennie Beverly, Leah Snyder, and Ashley Colopy introduced each inductee with a short bio. Wess Audsley, CEO/Director of the Genesee/Wyoming YMCA introduced Donald Carroll.

First Lt. Norton’s grandson, Harmon Norton accepted the award on behalf of his grandfather. He came all the way from Texas because of a quick Google search on his grandfather's name. 

He said the first thing that came up was the article from The Batavian. Once he started reading, he realized it was about his grandfather. He contacted Joe Cassidy, the Oakfield Town Historian, and arranged for a visit.

It seems as though he's been following his grandfather around, from enjoying the same hobby of airplanes and piloting, to being where, a 100 years earlier, his grandfather grew up -- in Oakfield. He thanked The Batavian for its story.

"Without your article, I would not be here today.”

When Dr. Bradt came to the podium, he not only got the audience laughing but enlightened us about the impact others have on your life and decisions. He started with a joke about making just a few notes for his speech while pulling out paper upon paper. Then he joked about his popularity with his female classmates, but sweetly gave the credit for his happiness to his wife of 62 years, Thelma.

He ended his speech challenging the audience to give some thought to the people who have made a difference in your life and to tell them how they influenced you.

Dr. Diasio was unable to attend the event. His classmate, Jan Witkowski,  who accepted the award for Diasio, said “We all knew Bob was destined for great things. We called him Doc from the very beginning.”

YMCA official Audsley shared memories of  Carroll and the struggles Carroll had as a child.

“He will do just about anything for people looking for help,” said Audsley. He said Carroll’s drive to help others is so they don’t have to go through what he went through.

The picture above is of previous and new inducted members. Below are this year's inductees by themselves.

The audience stood up as Carroll walked up to the podium with tears of gratitude flowing down his cheeks.

I got goose bumps. The moment seemed magical.

I felt hopeful and strenghtened as I listened to comments about Carroll's community contributions, and knowing all the inductees -- past and present -- have given above and beyond for others.

My husband even felt uplifted. The ceremony made me realize that people don't remember the material things as much as they do the moments spent with those they really care about.

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