Jackie Barrett never expected to be called a Hall of Famer.

“When I found out I made the top four or five, I was really excited that I was going to be in the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame,” says Barrett. “And it’s not just exciting for me, it’s exciting for over 47,500 true heroes across Canada who are Special Olympians.”

Barrett grew up in Halifax and began participating in Special Olympics in 1987 as a swimmer, when a suggestion from his coaches would change his life.

“I started powerlifting in 1995 from a suggestion from my Special Olympics Swimming Coaches who were Dave and Leanne Jollymore. They suggested that since I love lifting weights, I should give powerlifting a try.”

The rest is history. Jackie went on to win 13 gold medals and two silver medals over four appearances at the World Special Olympics.

He says his last record-breaking appearance was his most memorable.

“I would say my powerlifting highlight came at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles when I squatted over 611 pounds, which was not only a Special Olympics World Games record, but also the Newfoundland and Labrador Men’s Masters Superheavyweight record,” Barrett recalls proudly.

On Friday, Barrett became the first Special Olympic athlete ever to be inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame.

“When you work at a Hall of Fame, you want anything with first in front of it to be really legit, and Jackie is so legit,” says Bruce Rainnie, CEO of the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame. “You have to be retired five years to be considered by our selection committee. Jackie retired five years ago and is as close a no-brainer as we’ve ever had.”

Barrett was called to the Hall along with a prestigious group of five athletes and two builders;

Jody Shelley of Yarmouth, one of the most popular players in Halifax Mooseheads history who went on to have a 14-year NHL career appearing in 625 NHL games.

Justine Colley of East Preston, the all-time leading scorer in Canadian Women’s University Basketball and a two-time CIS National Player of the Year at Saint Mary’s University.

Suzanne Muir of Dartmouth, who played for the Canadian national women’s soccer team from 1992 to 1999, including the 1995 and 1999 World Cups, and was a two-time CIAU All-Canadian at Saint Mary’s University.

Morgan Williams of Cole Harbour, a rugby star who has represented Canada 58 times with the national team, including three World Cup appearances, and played professionally in both France and England.

Henry Boutilier of Glace Bay, longtime coach of the Glace Bay Colonels baseball team, who led the Colonels to 19 Maritime Championships, 24 provincial titles, and 5 National Championships, which led to invitations to the Little League World Series.

Roger Caulfield of Springhill, a basketball official for 32 years who has officiated over 1000 career AUS games and represented Canada at 125 FIBA-sanctioned games and four World Championships.

Barrett now lives in Newfoundland with his fiancée, where he volunteers as a Special Olympics coach. He hopes his induction will inspire future Nova Scotian Special Olympians to follow their dreams.

“Sports doesn’t care who you are, what your background, race, religion, or ability or disability,” says Barrett. “If you have a child that wants to be in Special Olympics and you have doubts, my word of advice is to let them join, because it will change their life forever!”