Sunday morning, the residents of Anderson, South Carolina, were saddened to hear that James "Radio" Kennedy had passed away at the age of 73. The man that inspired the 2003 Cuba Gooding Jr. movie, Radio, had been an important figure in the community throughout his life. Fortunately, those at T.L. Hanna High School had previously honored Kennedy by dedicating their yearbook to him.
As a video on YouTube shows, the students at T.L. Hanna felt that it was critical to honor Kennedy in a physical manner. He has long been a key part of the football team, as well as the school, but dedicating the yearbook to him provided tangible evidence of his impact.
"This is a big day for Radio, and I think we will all remember that," former coach Harold Jones said as part of the dedication video. "I think the biggest thing is bringing attention to people with special needs. When he grew up, special education and everything wasn't here in the school system."
Once Kennedy came in, he brought attention to those with special needs in high school, as well as in the community. As Jones explained, this enriched the lives of many and brought a positive change that would have a lasting impact.
As the video showed, Kennedy was overjoyed at this honor. He flipped through the yearbook and excitedly pointed out photos of himself and coach Jones. To cap off the event, Kennedy was presented with a special sugar-free cake that had been baked specifically for him. He had suffered from diabetes, and those that loved and respected Kennedy were aware of this fact.
As one former student explained, Kennedy was a special man in that he was always happy and willing to show up and help out the school and the Yellowjackets football team. He wasn't required to be present but was still excited about the prospect at all times. To this former student, Kennedy's influence helped her focus on being happy instead of the negative aspects of life.
While the students of T.L. Hanna and the residents of Anderson were saddened by Kennedy passing away, that doesn't mean that they will soon forget his impact. The yearbook dedication from 2018 shows how much he means to the school and the community, as do the birthday parties at Chick-fil-A. It's entirely possible that the community will find another way to honor his memory for many years to come.