The fourth annual Special Olympics State Fall Games brought in hundreds of children and adults with intellectual disabilities from all over the state competing in six different sports.
One athlete stood out because of his performance on and off the field.
Clinton Bookmiller has changed his life through focus on the field and the mentors he’s had as coaches through Special Olympics Michigan.
It’s his perseverance and dedication that have his coaches- and us- calling him an All Star.
“Clinton is an amazing athlete,” Coach Chuck Biebelhausen said.
He’s seen Clinton grow through his years as an athlete in Special Olympics.
“It actually gave me an outlet, it gave me an outlet to be able to relax and be myself,” Clinton said.
Clinton’s love of sports came from his desire to find belonging and acceptance.
“Always being told I wasn’t going to go anywhere, that I was always going to stay at home,” Clinton said. “That I wasn’t going to be able to succeed at anything.”
He found his success on the soccer field, where he could focus on his abilities and gain self-esteem.
“It’s amazing because we’re free, we are literally openly free – we get to get out there and have fun doing what we do and just enjoy,” Clinton said.
His coaches say Clinton inspires his teammates leading by example and encouragement but Clinton says they’ve done much more for him.
“My coaches have always been my biggest supporters,” Clinton said. “To help grow me into the man I am now, I can’t thank them enough.”
While it’s the love of soccer that’s brought Clinton together with his teammates and coaches, it’s been a team effort to get him where he is today.
“It showed me that yeah, I can do this and then to be at where I am now which is amazing,” Clinton said. “I’m now working full time, I’m a certified nursing assistant and I love what I do. I am living on my own, I just got a brand new vehicle.”
They’re all things Clinton was told he would never have or do and things he wants so make sure everyone with special needs get a shot at.
“All we’re asking for is an opportunity,” he said. “If anybody tells you that you can’t do something – don’t let them get to you.”
Clinton led his soccer team to take home the bronze medal at the Special Olympics Fall State Games. Congratulations to them!