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Community rallies around Bennie

Bennie Hank Joiner wins two high school wrestling matches

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I was his biggest fan. I was on the mat cheering, and it was so awesome to see all that hard work pay off for him.
– Bailey Joiner, Bennie Hank's sister

The sport of wrestling means more than people will ever know to 16-year-old Bennie Hank Joiner and the rest of his family.

Bennie Hank is a beloved first-year wrestler for the Lebanon High School wrestling team with Down Syndrome, but on January 21, he recorded his first win via pin against an opponent from Glendale High School.

With his family, coaches, teammates, and fans cheering his name all around him, Joiner was able to get his hand raised.

“I felt very happy,” Bennie mentioned at a practice last week in a sit-down interview. “It was fun getting my hand raised and wearing the pin chain.”

Bennie Hank is the oldest of seven children (Davis, Bailey, Jessa, Natalee, Jett, and Bowen) in the Joiner family with Davis and Bailey currently on the varsity boys’ and girls’ wrestling teams and Jessa and Natalee took first-place at the Nationals tournament this past weekend at the Civic Center.

“It’s different because you have to find the boundary of being a jerk and trying to be a brother and encourage him,” said Davis. “I would trade every win I have this season to see what I saw the other night when he got his hand raised. It was awesome just to see him improving and how much he has grown since the beginning of the season or even from a week ago how far he has come.”

“I was his biggest fan,” Bailey said. “I was on the mat cheering, and it was so awesome to see all that hard work pay off for him.”

His mother, Jess, said with tears almost in her eyes how happy she was that the school system, wrestling coaches, and teammates had embraced her son.

For the complete article, see Wednesday's edition of the Laclede County Record.

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