David Hill is 2014 Outstanding Athlete

posted Thu, Sep 4, 2014 by Jon Buzby

David Hill is the 2014 Outstanding Athlete. (photo by Ruth Coughlan)

David Hill has spent a large part of his adult life in the weight room lifting weights.

Really heavy weights. His personal bests include squatting 640 pounds, bench pressing 400, and deadlifting 575.

The results are usually golden. As in medals. Dozens of them.

“Powerlifting keeps me fit,” David, 30, said. “It makes me want to do my best, and I am good at it.”

David is so good at it that he recently returned from the USA Games decorated in four gold medals. That’s four gold medals in four events. A perfect score.

“The USA Games is the single toughest event because the flight size is small and you have only 15 minutes between lifts,” Team Delaware powerlifting coach Hank Stoklosa explained. “And the judging is the strictest you see. Being able to lift under those conditions tells you how tough of a lifter he is.”

David’s all-around accomplishments in Special Olympics for nearly a decade have earned him the 2014 Outstanding Athlete award.

"It feels great to win,” David said when learning of the award.

In addition to powerlifting, David has added tennis, basketball, flag football, volleyball and bowling to his repertoire, helping the young man develop not just physically, but socially.

“I like hanging out with my friends at practices,” he shared.

That outgoing social side of David didn’t exist when he first got involved in 2006. 

David was born with Landau Kleffner-Syndrome (LKS), a rare neurological syndrome characterized by a gradual onset of the inability to understand and express language. This caused him to be developmentally delayed and therefore unable to participate in traditional community or school sports programs. That is until his mother found Special Olympics.

“Special Olympics gave him the opportunity to develop his strongest attribute -- his athletic ability. But he didn’t come out of his social shell until he took the Communicate with Confidence training,” Corrine Pearson explained. “Participating in Special Olympics has helped David overcome the frustration that can come with a disability. His quality of life has improved because the gap between him and his ‘normal’ peers is no longer an obstacle. His evaluation score at his job at Home Depot has improved in customer service because he is no longer afraid to approach people and offer his assistance thanks to the Communicate with Confidence training.”

It was that training that helped David to not only develop social and speaking skills, but gave him the confidence to share his story to countless audiences of all sizes. And when he speaks, he talks about all the reasons Special Olympics has changed his life.  

“I like to make new friends, doing things with old friends, playing different sports,” he said. “Other competitors show respect like saying congratulations and nice work.

“And when I lift I don't feel disabled,” he added.