Special Olympics helps athlete become a leader

ON THE COURT: Patrick Davis gets the ball during the Special Olympics Basketball Game on Tuesday, April 18. Davis has been an Olympian for approximately 15 years now. (Pioneer photos/Maxwell Harden)

ON THE COURT: Patrick Davis gets the ball during the Special Olympics Basketball Game on Tuesday, April 18. Davis has been an Olympian for approximately 15 years now. (Pioneer photos/Maxwell Harden)

BIG RAPIDS — Sports have played a large role in Patrick Davis’ life for more than 15 years, giving him something to look forward to as well as helping him become more confident.

Davis joined Area 5 Special Olympics around 2000 and has been a part of the team ever since. He has competed in many different events over the years with his Area 5 family, as well as with relatives. At one point, Davis had five uncles in the Special Olympics.

“When my uncles were taking part in Special Olympics, I always went and watched them practice,” Davis said. “That got me interested in doing Special Olympics. I saw them practice and play their games and I finally realized I wanted to try out and see how it went.”

Now, Davis is one of the athletic leaders. He helps train the new members who join Area 5. Davis said there is a motto he has learned and teaches the new athletes: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

WIDE OPEN: Davis calls to a teammate, letting them know he is open to take the ball.

WIDE OPEN: Davis calls to a teammate, letting them know he is open to take the ball.

“It’s fun getting to know the new people and teaching them the things I have been taught,” he said.

Special Olympics Michigan Area 5 Director Patricia Rosales said Davis has come a long way from when he first joined Area 5.

“He’s got a lot more confidence now, a lot more self-esteem from when he first started,” she said. “We are going to be starting Patrick out training to be a global messenger for Special Olympics. It is part of our athlete leadership program. We will be able to send him out to promote us and spread the word about Special Olympics. Global messengers are spokespersons for the Special Olympics program. Right now we have three official messengers; Patrick would be our fourth.”

Though Davis was a little shocked at first to be chosen as a messenger, he is excited and looking forward to training.

“I used to be shy all the time,” he said. “Now, I’m not shy anymore. This is cool. This will be the first time I speak in public. I’m in the process of finding my comfort zone and coming out of my comfort zone to speak in public.”

Davis will be working the training into his already busy schedule. Davis works at Meijer pushing carts, assisting customers, returning items to where they belong and cleaning up spills.

“I love my job,” he said. “It’s awesome. It pays, it helps me out a lot. It gets me out of the house so I’m not cooped up a lot.”

ON THE MOVE: Davis dribbles the ball down the court. While practicing for the basketball game, Davis also practiced for the upcoming track and field season.

ON THE MOVE: Davis dribbles the ball down the court. While practicing for the basketball game, Davis also practiced for the upcoming track and field season.

When not at work, Davis helps his mother around the house and helps take care of his father. Davis also trains for the next sport.

“The Olympics mean a lot to me,” he said. “All the sports are my favorites. I’ve done bowling, hockey, volleyball, basketball, track and field, golf. Right now I’m just focused on track and field. I practice quite a bit.”

Davis will be participating in the Special Olympics State Summer Games, which will be June 1 through 3, at Central Michigan University. Davis is practicing to compete in the 800-meter dash, the javelin toss, softball throw and the running long jump.`

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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