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THE CHAMPON



"Hey! Look at this. I think it's made out of real honest to goodness gold," said Tommy Jernigan as he held up the trophy he discovered in the large garbage dumpster.

"That can't be real gold. Nobody's going to throw away something made out of real gold," said one of the other boys who lived in the orphanage with us.

As boys of 10 and 11 years of age, we had decided to run away from the Children’s Home Orphanage to venture out into a new world to find safety.

The five of us closely gathered around Tommy so we could see what was inscribed on the trophy.

"You are truly a champon," read the plaque attached to the wooden part of the base.

"What's a champon?" asked one of the boys.

"It's a horse. I seen it on TV," another boy replied.

"Why would someone give a horse a trophy?" asked Robert.

No one said a word. We just stood looking at the beautiful shiny trophy.

"Can I help you boys?" asked someone walking up from behind us.

We turned to see a large man walking toward us.

"What you got there?" asked the man.

Tommy tried to hide the trophy behind him.

"It's a champon trophy," said Tommy pulling it from behind him and holding it toward the stranger.

"Is this made out of real gold?" asked Tommy.

"I don't think so," said the man smiling as he spoke. "Let me see what you have there.”

The man took the trophy from Tommy's hands and carefully looked at it.

"Well boys, the word "champion" has been misspelled. That's evidently why someone threw the trophy away."

"Is champon a horse on TV?" asked Emmett.

"I don't know about that. This kind of "champion" means that you are good at doing something very special. Things like baseball or swimming.

"Is it okay if we have it?" asked Tommy.

"I don't see why not," said the man as he handed the trophy back to Tommy.

We took the golden prize back to the orphanage where we kept it in our underground fort. There were days when we would light a small fire made from leaves, just so we could see the trophy glimmer its golden color.

Once a week, we would have a foot race to determine which one of us boys would get to sit with the trophy. It then sat in front of the winner of the race when we held our meetings inside the fort.

Over more than 10 years in the orphanage, I cannot recall one time when any of us kids were told we were special or that we were loved. However, I do remember winning that gold trophy many times, as do the other boys who were there with me. We boys will forever remember the pride that came from that little golden trophy. It was just a worthless piece of metal and wood found in an old garbage dumpster.

A worthless trophy that gave us kids a little bit of a head start in life by letting us know the feeling that, we too, could one day grow up to be "Champons."



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