Help Get Doug Into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
WE NEED YOUR HELP! Doug Kennedy, from Haleyville, is a record-setting, gold medal, Paralympian wheelchair racer. No one is more deserving of recognition as an Alabama sports hero than Doug. Doug was nominated by his friend, Belinda Masdon Kimble, also from Haleyville, for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham, in 2015. He has been passed by for the past three years, and the ASHOF nominating committee meets again in July. The committee votes to put candidates on the ballot, and then a larger selection committee votes for the inductees from those on the ballot. WHAT CAN YOU DO? Please contact Scott Myers, ASHOF’s executive director, and let him know that Northwest Alabama wants to see Doug in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Please read Doug’s nomination letter below to refresh your recollection of Doug’s extraordinary athletic career. Thank you. Harold and Belinda
Scott Myers, Executive Director, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
2150 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N.
Birmingham, AL 35203
This is the 2015 letter nominating Doug:
Dear Mr. Myers:
It is my honor and privilege to nominate Doug Kennedy, from Haleyville, Alabama, for admission to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Kennedy’s family moved to the Haleyville area in 1959 when he was one year old, and he has remained in the area all his life. Through his Paralympic athletic exploits and world records, many of which still stand, Kennedy has earned national and international fame and brought glory and honor to the great state of Alabama.
Wheelchair racing is an individual sport, and one would be hard pressed to find an individual athlete who dominated a sport the way Kennedy dominated his. As of November 13, 1991, Doug Kennedy, at age 33, was the top wheelchair racer in the U.S., and by most accounts the best in the world. He was classified as an “elite” athlete. Kennedy was the world record holder in the 1500 meter, the 10 kilometers the 15 kilometers the 5 mile, and a gold medalist in the 1990 Goodwill Games in the 1500 meter. Kennedy was on the 1988 and 1992 U.S. Paralympic Teams and has the distinction of being Lakeshore Foundation’s first athlete to compete in the summer Paralympic Games.
Kennedy’s amazing athletic career began in 1987 when he won a Silver Medal in the Stoke-Mandville Games in Albury, England in the Pentathlon. He went on to win two Gold Medals back to back in 1987 and 1988 in the U.S. National Pentathlon Championships. In 1988 he became a member of the U.S. Paralympic Team and came in fourth place in the 1500 meter at the 1988 Summer Paralympic games in Seoul, Korea.
In 1989 Kennedy focused on racing, rather than pentathlon, and his career soared. He competed in more than one hundred races nationwide and finished first or second in most of them, setting several national records and four world records.
Kennedy’s career was unmatched in 1990, and he was widely considered the world’s greatest wheelchair racer. That year he won a Gold Medal in the Goodwill Games in Seattle, Washington, in the 1500 meter, he captured First Place titles in the Pepsi Vulcan Run in Birmingham, Alabama, and the Red Lobster 10K Classic in Orlando, Florida. He set world records for his First Place win in the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia, in the 10K and for his First Place win in the Pigeon Forge Midnight Road Race in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in the 5 Mile. Kennedy was honored in 1990 when he was given the Sington Award as the Physically Challenged Athlete of the Year for the State of Alabama, sponsored by the Lakeshore Foundation and selected by the Alabama Sport’s Writer’s Association.
There was no slowing down in 1991, and Kennedy set a new world record with his First Place win at the International Integrated Athlete Meeting in Melbourne, Australia in the 1500 meter. Additionally, he set another world record with his First Place win at the Gasparilla 15K Distance Classic in Tampa, Florida in the 15K. That same year, Kennedy wowed his hometown fans in Haleyville, Alabama, when he won First Place in the Doug Kennedy-Rotary 10K Wheelchair Race in Haleyville, Alabama, the first and only race in the country named for a wheelchair athlete. Later that year, Kennedy was once again made a member of the U.S. Paralympic Team and competed in Barcelona, Spain.
Kennedy’s amazing career includes several world records and many venue records that still stand, even today.
Doug Kennedy married his wife, Gracie, and had two daughters before the work-related accident that paralyzed him from the waist down. Refusing to give in to the depression that invariably comes with severe disability, a mere seven years after his accident, Kennedy had established himself as a world-class athlete, winning consistently and setting world records. To understand and appreciate how he did it, you would have to meet Kennedy and experience first-hand the irrepressible good humor, boundless energy, fearsome determination and impish good looks that made him an exceptional champion and fan favorite. His willingness to sign autographs and talk to children secured that role. Doug Kennedy is one-of-a-kind, a very special person. With a short stint in local politics and his own business to run, Kennedy still makes his home in his hometown of Haleyville, Alabama, and enjoys growing old with his wife of 40 years and watching his four grandchildren grow up.
I can have no higher recommendation for Doug Kennedy, my nominee for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. I urge the Committee to accept his nomination and recognize the terrific contributions of Doug Kennedy to the sports world in Alabama.
Very truly yours,
Doug Kennedy, Summary of Achievements
1987 Silver Medal, Stoke-Mandville Games. Alsbury, England, Pentathlon
1987 Gold Medal, U.S. National Pentathlon Championships, Pentathlon
1988 Gold Medal, U.S. National Pentathlon Championships, Pentathlon
1988 Fourth Place, Member U.S. Paralympic Team, Seoul, Korea, 1500 meter
In 1989 competed in more than 100 races nationwide, finishing first or second in most of them, setting several national records, and four world records
1990 Gold Medal, Goodwill Games, Seattle, Washington, 1500 meter
1990 First Place, Pepsi Vulcan Run, Birmingham, AL, 10K
1990 First Place, Red Lobster 10K Classic, Orlando, Florida, 10K
1990 First Place and World Record, Peachtree Road Race, Atlanta Georgia, 10K
1990 First Place and World Record, Pigeon Forge Midnight Road Race, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, 5 Mile
1990 Recipient of the Sington Award as the Physically Challenged Athlete of the Year for the State of Alabama, Sponsored by the Lakeshore Foundation and selected by the Alabama Sport’s Writers Association
1991 First Place and World Record, International Integrated Athlete Meeting in Melbourne Australia, 1500 meter
1991 First Place and World Record, Gasparilla 15K Distance Classic, Tampa, Florida, 15K
1991 First Place, Doug Kennedy-Rotary 10K Wheelchair Race, Haleyville, AL, 10K, and the first and only race in the country named for a wheelchair athlete
1992 Member U.S. Paralympic Team, Barcelona, Spain