Community pays Tribute To Home Grown Olympian

Friends, family, and loved ones of Olympic gold medal winner Catherine Hardy Lavender gathered to remember the native Carrollton woman at her name sake's recreation center in Carrollton on Tuesday.

Lavender passed away earlier this month at the age of 87.

She won her gold medal as part of the 400 meter relay team in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

Family members said: prior to her passing, Lavender's religion initially discouraged her from allowing the former West Carrollton Recreation Center on Willie North Street to carry her name. But, they said, she decided to accept the honor in order to inspire the young people of Carrollton.

And, she continues to inspire area youth, says Carrollton City Councilman Gerald Byrd who spoke at Tuesday's ceremony.
"I think nowadays it is more important than ever to focus on hard work and perseverance. And it is important too... to teach young people to focus. I think focus is what took her to the Olympics and it was her laser focus that led her to win a gold medal, "Byrd said to WLBB's Luke Lukert. "It is my hope that this will trickle down to the new generation. They will be inspired that someone right doen from their doorstep went to the Olympics in Helsinki, Finland... And, its real!"

The ceremony had friends and family telling stories about Lavender followed by a releasing prayer and remembrance balloons.