Spotlight in Sports: Disability, Dream and Do
Saturday was a day for everyone at NYSEG Stadium, as the Rumble Ponies hosted the Disability, Dream and Do (D3) Program for a free day of fun and play.
First taking roots in the 1980's, D3 is the evolution of kindness originating from the Dave Clark Foundation, which specializes in improving the dreams of people with disabilities...through sports.
Co-founder, Dave Clark is a former professional baseball who pitched in the Minor Leagues. Whats more, is that Clark suffered from Polio at the age of 10-months and was required to wear leg braces and crutches most of his life.
Although there were plenty of obstacles that stood in his way, Dave Clark never stopped from sprinting toward his dreams. "I played Little League baseball. My parents had to go to Williamsport, PA, to get permission because they thought I was going to get injured. I was able to play, and play I did. I held my own against kids with 'normal' ability," said Dave Clark.
Being told "No" most of Dave's life, except by his supportive parents, he said he remembered one moment in his third-grade elementary school that changed his life forever. According to Clark, most of his teachers instructed him to "observe from the sidelines" during gym class, but one new teacher thought differently during a rope climbing class. "I automatically headed to the sidelines. And I heard a big, booming voice say, 'Not in my class!' He said to me, 'Dave their might be things you're not going to do. But you're not going to find out, until you do it.'" Dave said he put one fist in front of the other, and became the only child to climb the rope to the top.
After his triumph in gym class, Dave Clark looked at life with a new perspective. One moment, that's all it took to change his life from a child with a disability, to a man with crutches, striking out a batter on the mound. And D3 could be the opportunity for other people with disabilities to find themselves overcoming their own limitations.
"Just because some person has a limitation, does not make them any different than you," said Clark.
Following a similar path to Dave Clark, D3 Athlete Ambassador, Dave Stevens, was also told he would never live a 'normal' life. But found himself named the only player to take the field in college football and minor league baseball, without legs.
"I turned my disability into my ability and started playing sports. I've come full circle now with [D3] to give back to the kids with special needs, and give them opportunities that I didn't have as a kid," said Dave Stevens, former ESPN Editor.
One of the very few players to ever Pinch Hit for former Mets/Yankees, Darryl Strawberry, Dave Stevens said he feels "blessed to have been born without legs," because he can stand as a model to others with special needs, and without. "I hope the players and the kids come out here see me and say, 'Hey I'm not different, I'm just like everybody else."
Living their dreams and sharing their lessons in D3, Dave and Dave stand strong together. Helping children and adults overcome limitations, one swing at a time.