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Rachals defender for those with special needs

In response to accusations against Reggie Rachals regarding special-needs kids:

“He’s my brother,” you say. “You’d support him anyway.” Yes I would, but there’s more you don’t see ... There’s history ...

I was born with cerebral palsy. I’ve struggled all my life to do the things most don’t think twice about, to walk, to talk, not to stumble and fall ... to do things that require a steady hand ...

As a child there were braces. “He’ll never walk,” they said. There were years of tears, therapy and speech; nights filled with exercises that Reggie would do with me.

But mostly parents and siblings who never, ever gave up. They cheered me on; that gave me strength. But most of all they were proud of me.

Reggie, you see, was three years younger than me. He walked beside me to school, he ran slower at times so I could win the race, he chased away those that called me “retard.” My brother, my defender.

As we grew, the braces came off, the therapy ended. But his compassion and respect for my struggles never changed.

I was never considered “disabled.” It was never an option to be; we just worked at problems and found solutions, you see.

I guess that’s why it’s so hard for me to hear the slander, to hear the lies, to hear all these things with no reply ... It’s not in his heart, it’s not in his soul, it’s not in his being to ever treat those that struggle with disrespect ...

His job requires making decisions not everyone will like, but no one can ever truthfully accuse him of an uncompassionate heart.

ROGER RACHALS

Albany

EDITOR’S NOTE: Roger Rachals is the brother of Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals