Yuma, Arizona - The City of Yuma is excited to announce the addition of a new public art feature in honor of Charles E. Cheatham, a local Special Olympian whose smiles and bike rides were familiar to many Yumans.
The art sculpture will be unveiled to the community 2 p.m. Tuesday, Decemnber 28 near the bike path on Colorado Street, east of 12th Avenue.
Local students from Az-Tec High School and YPIC Charter High School worked with Shanen Aranmor of Weld Like a Girl™ to transform the bicycle Cheatham used for transportation into a work of art. Students designed the metal art feature and had the opportunity to learn basic welding skills as they completed the project.
Cheatham, 49, was a graduate of Kofa High School who participated in Special Olympics and “played every single sport they had,” according to his sister, Dejon Delpino. He later moved on to the Yuma Special Olympics Cheer Team. Through ACHIEVE Human Services, Charles was employed as a custodian for the U.S. Border Patrol. He passed away March 22 of this year.
Delpino said Charles’ family is grateful for the support of the Yuma community. “Yuma is the type of place where Charles could thrive, where you can be a good and honest person and be appreciated. There are not a lot of places like that left in the world.”
Cathy Reeves, who was the head of Special Olympics locally when Charles first participated, praised Charles’ always-positive attitude. “He always faced up to every challenge that was presented to him, and he was always kind and loving,” Reeves said. Due to his motor skills, swimming and bike riding were challenging for Charles. “But it never slowed him down,” she said. “He always had that determination, that ‘I want to try it; I’m going to do it.’ And he found a way around it.”
“We are excited to have a new public art feature in our community,” said Jay Simonton, Acting City Administrator. “This new piece of art honors Charles and his love of biking and Yuma. It also provided local students the opportunity to create a work of art that will have a meaningful impact in our community.”