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Athlete's courage in face of cancer earns Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Honor

Posted at 4:30 PM, Apr 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-15 19:49:16-04

The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame will induct six outstanding former athletes and coaches as part of their annual gala April 18. But as part of that ceremony they will also be honoring some amazing athletes who are still competing. 

Among those being honored is Special Olympian Jason Horton.

While Jason is a true athlete taking part in many different sports, his honor as Colorado’s Disabled Athlete of the Year is more about his spirit than his athletic ability.

“His determination. His willpower. His strength. He’s always positive even when there is so much stacked against him,” said his sister-in-law, Nwando Horton. 

What’s stacked against him is cancer. He’s been fighting it in one form or another for years.

“He lost his eye to cancer. He lost his leg to cancer. He lost three ribs to cancer and he had a brain tumor this last time,” Nwando added.

Denver7 first introduced viewers to Jason in the summer of 2017 when he learned he was going to be one of 25 Special Olympic athletes across the nation receiving honoring ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) awards when the ESPYs honored Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

“It’s about time that he got recognized,” Jason’s soccer teammate Azur Ewari told Denver7 at that time.  “He does so much just as an athlete and all the sports he plays and everything.”

But Jason did not get that trophy in the Special Olympics Colorado ceremony that was planned. Instead, it was presented to him by members of the Colorado Rapids soccer team in the hospital after Jason was diagnosed with another round of cancer.

Jason beat that cancer and overcame one more diagnosis before competing in the Special Olympics Colorado state basketball tournament back in March.

“Everything that he goes through, when he goes through chemo, he still comes to practice, supports his teams, he’s out there trying to compete,” said Chaka Sutton, the Senior Vice President of Unified Champions Schools for Special Olympics Colorado. “He’s the one who is always out there telling his teammates ‘You can do it. Let’s keep going.’ That motivates anyone it touches.”

Jason says he does it all because he likes being around his friends, but admits it’s his love of basketball that really keeps him going.

“Just having fun and being able to play the game that I love,” he told Denver7.

On the night Jason is honored, six players and coaches will be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame:

  • Alex Burl - football and track star at Colorado State University
  • Joe Glenn - football coach at the University of Northern Colorado
  • Tracy Hill – basketball star at Ridgeway High School
  • Peyton Manning – quarterback for the Denver Broncos
  • Sam Pagano – coach at Fairview High School
  • Rashaan Salaam – running back at the University of Colorado