Ole Brook lifter proves he’s special

Published 9:08 pm Thursday, July 19, 2018

Garrett Lofton thought he was going shopping Wednesday night. Instead, the medal-winning champion walked in on his own surprise party.

“My mom tricked me into thinking I was going to Walmart,” said Lofton, a gold medalist four times over at the recent 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington. “She did the whole trickeroo.”

Instead of groceries, the 22-year-old got applause from his hometown supporters at the Brookhaven Moose Lodge and cake with his image in icing.

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Lofton, the son of Charles “Shorty” and Michelle Lofton, brought home four gold medals from Seattle. He wore them proudly around his neck as he thanked friends, family and lodge members for attending the reception.

“His gold was a victory,” Charles Lofton said. “And the lodge has been a big part of it.”

Lofton said his son has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is on the autism spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome. That sometimes makes it hard for the young man to fit in socially. That’s changed since he’s been participating in Special Olympics, especially since coming home from Seattle.

“His phone stays blowing up,” he said. “He met a lot of athletes out there. The medals and all are great, but the friendships he’s got out of it is what will last.”

Lofton plans to get back to his workouts soon at Snap Fitness — the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 1968 gifted him with a membership. He’s eager to outdo his personal best.

“I’m itching to get back,” he said.

In Seattle, he lifted about 160 on bench and squat and 215 on deadlift. Not bad for someone who started out as a 1 pound 5 ounce premie born at 28 weeks.

“It’s pretty impressive what he was able to accomplish,” Charles Lofton said.

Lofton is looking forward to the next summer games at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi where he will compete in both powerlifting and basketball. The 5-foot-3 man is paired in basketball with at 6-foot-3 teammate.

“It kind of helps balance it out,” he said.

The Brookhaven Moose Lodge will be there to support him and other special olympians in the competition.

The lodge began providing food for the competitors in the Special Olympics Mississippi Fall Games at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center in 2002 and have been fundraising and contributing to the event every year, said Stephanie Pepper Allen, a past senior regent with the lodge.

Allen said the lodge raises and spends around $6,000 every year to serve at the games. The lodge’s fundraising for 2018 will begin next month.

Lodge member Larry Ratliff, who is on the state board of the Special Olympics, said the Brookhaven Moose will provide about 2,500 meals over a three-day period during the fall games.