James Horner, Rebecca Horner, Pat Horner and Sarah Fanning stand in their family-owned pottery studio in downtown Hartselle. Special to the Enquirer

Extra chromosome means extra joy

Hartselle’s James Horner brings smiles, laughter to everyone he meets

By Hannah Ballenger

For the Enquirer

James Horner was born and raised in Hartselle, and according to his sister, Rebecca Horner, he keeps everyone busy. His schedule includes working at Pizza Ed, music, participating in programs with Shining Stars and Shoal Creek Church and helping with his family’s business – Keramos Ceramics. He accomplishes all of
this all while not allowing Down syndrome to stand in his way.

“I have Down syndrome,” he said. “Lots of my friends have Down syndrome.”

James graduated from Hartselle High School in 2015, and he said Hartselle High sports – especially football and basketball – are still his favorite thing about the town. “I love to see all the players in Hartselle play sports,” he said.

Rebecca added that when James was in high school, he was the manager for their sister Sarah Fanning’s basketball team.

James is currently employed at Pizza Ed on Main Street, – a job Rebecca Horner said he procured for himself.

“We had gone into Pizza Ed one day and James was eating with one of his friends who also has Down syndrome, and he disappeared,” she said. When he came back, they found out he had asked the owners, Eddie and Chandra Gwin, for a job.

“They gave him a job after that,” she said. “The owners are really good to James.”

The Gwins hired James as a busboy, and he works on Friday and Saturday evenings. “He likes to greet people and talk to people,” Rebecca said. “He never forgets anyone after he meets them.

James prefers to call the restaurant’s popular hoagies, “Yogi’s.” His sister said they joke about it together.

“I’ve made really good friends with the workers at Pizza Ed,” James said. “I always like the pasta and pizza, and sometimes I get the calzones or Yogi’s – like Yogi Bear.”

Although James does not cook at Pizza Ed, he said he does enjoy helping cook at home – especially for the holidays.

“They taught home ec in school,” Rebecca Horner said. “He learned a lot of culinary skills at school in the Instructional Resource Center.”

When he’s not at Pizza Ed, James stays busy with a wide range of activities and interests. Thursdays he attends music lessons, where he has learned to play drums – and his activities do not stop there.

”We have a lot of things going on,” Rebecca said. “He’s playing basketball with the Shining Stars right now, and Shoal Creek Church has a big special needs program there; It’s really awesome, and they do things at church and go on field trips, too.”

The Horner family – including James Horner’s parents, Pat and Dinah Horner, and his sisters – all help James with his busy schedule, and they all pitch in with the family business, Keramos Ceramics in downtown Hartselle.

Rebecca said James will be at the studio more often soon, helping with his niece and nephew, Marshall and Makenna Fanning.

Something James does every year is make Christmas ornaments to sell, and Rebecca said anyone who visits Warehouse Coffee on main street this holiday season will be able to purchase a piece of Jimmy Boy Pottery for $5.

Special to the Enquirer

“It’s my idea, and Rebecca helps me,” James said. “Jimmy Boy is my nickname, and my friends also call me Buddy.”

Rebecca said when her brother’s pottery sells, that goes to his income, and he makes the ornaments all on his own.

She said right now James is helping on a shop order for 150 ornaments for a local customer and helps with other orders throughout the year.

“He doesn’t make a lot (selling the ornaments), but he uses a lot of the money so he can take himself out to eat,” Rebecca said. “We like food in our family.”

Mexican food is James’ favorite food, along with chocolate, he said.

What’s next for the musician/basketball player/pottery artisan/foodie?

“We’ve been wanting to open an Etsy shop,” Rebecca said. “There is one guy we’ve seen who has Down syndrome, and he sells crazy socks; there is another guy who also has Down syndrome, and he sells pottery.”

James has told his sister he would like to be a writer one day.

“I would like to write a children’s book,” he said.

Rebecca said she had no idea that was something he wanted to do, and she will be looking into it.

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