Always remembered, never forgotten

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Melanie Hart Shaddix and Lynn Shadix (bottom) and a group of Christian’s friends with his retired jersey on Saturday. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

VINEMONT, Ala. – A very special event for a very special person took place in Vinemont Saturday. The Vinemont Eagles Youth Football Association retired the late Christian Hart’s no. 5 jersey before Saturday’s youth games in front of an emotional home crowd. Christian, 12, was tragically killed in a boating accident on Smith Lake in May.

The association decided to hold the ceremony based on several factors; it is perhaps the highest honor for an athlete and his or her family to have his or her jersey retired and is a sign of respect from the association and everyone involved.

The retirement is just one of many ways to always remember Christian’s story and legacy- not only remember, but also also pass on for many years to come. The association’s decision had little to do with Christian’s athletic ability and achievements and more to do with the kindheartedness and light that he showed everyone when he was away from athletics.

Christian was a multi-sport athlete and participated in football, baseball, basketball and archery. He was always a light to everyone, always pulled for the underdog and always worried about others going hungry. He would always ask his parents for extra lunch and break money, and it eventually came to light that it was for kids at school who did not have money for snacks or lunch. It says a lot to be a good example for your peers when you are on this earth, but when you can still have a positive impact on people after you have departed, that means you lived life the way it was meant to be lived. Because of Christian’s character, his classmates now raise snack money for those in need. Christian also included everyone and treated everyone the same because he absolutely despised bullying and never wanted anyone to feel left out.

On the field he was always motivating and uplifting, respected his teammates and they all respected him. One day Vinemont was playing Good Hope in a baseball double-header. Christian took the mound for game one and pitched a no-hitter and struck out 9 of the 12 batters he faced. Between games while everyone was congratulating him on that outstanding performance, all Christian would say was he wanted to win the next game.

Christian’s jersey was retired not only for his athletic accomplishments, but also the young man he was in everyday life. So, I felt since I shared that story about one of his many athletic accomplishments, it’s only fitting to share one that showed what a caring person he was. Christian was attending a birthday party, and everyone was getting ready to go shoot airsoft guns. They were short one player and the birthday boy told everyone else he would just referee, but Christian told him no. He said it was his party, so he was going to have fun with everyone else. Christian volunteered to sit out just to let everyone else be involved and not feel left out. That says a lot about someone’s character, especially for a child.

Christian’s parents, both graduates of Vinemont High School, are honored and grateful that he got to be a part of the Vinemont community and family. Lynn and Melanie Hart expressed their gratitude to everyone for the continued thoughts and prayers.

Christian Hart will never be forgotten and will always be an Eagle in the hearts of many.

“Good men must die, but death will never kill their name.” – Unknown author

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