Local Special Olympics athlete preparing special message for ‘Breakfast of Champions’

AUSTIN (KXAN) — He’s practiced and competed, and now an Austin pillar for the Special Olympics Texas has a special message prepared for their first annual fundraiser.

“Just not letting my disabilities define who I am as a person, because I’ll admit, I’ve had disabilities but I just don’t let it define me as a person,” said Bruce Clarke.

Special Olympics Texas is hosting their first Breakfast of Champions fundraiser in Austin on Friday morning. Law enforcement, athletes and their families will come together with over 400 participants to celebrate achievements and raise money for all the programs the organization offers.

“We are really so much more than just an athletic organization,” said Sarah Ribeiro, the Director of Development for Special Olympics Texas. “We also are the largest healthcare provider for our athletes and we are in our school systems with unified programs.”

Bruce Clarke repels of a building in Arizona for a fundraising event with Special Olympics. (Photo Courtesy: Bruce Clarke)

Since Clarke got involved with the organization in Arizona seven years ago, he’s excelled. He has competed in basketball, volleyball and bocce. Now that he’s in Austin, he’s taken on a role as Athlete Leadership Coordinator.

“Take a step outside of your comfort zone because when you step outside of your comfort zone is when you really realize your full potential I think,” he said.

The breakfast, which is open to the public, is an opportunity to learn about what the program offers its participants and to showcase what they can do.

“It’s giving our athletes a chance to show the world what we’re made of because a lot of the time our athletes don’t get a chance to get out on the playing field and compete with other athletes because people may think they can’t do it,” Clarke described. “I just feel like they have to prove themselves to people sometimes.”

Not being good enough is something anyone can likely relate to, but it’s not something Clarke said he’s allowing to stop him from overcoming challenges.

“I just think that Special Olympics and our athletes in general just bring the world the good side of what’s going on,” he explained. “People think this world just doesn’t have much good in it at times and I think they just portray the good that’s in this world.”

Clarke poses with his dad after an Area Bocce competition. (Photo Courtesy: Bruce Clarke)

“Just to realize everything he does and with a positive attitude, it’s an inspiration to me,” Ribeiro said. “I’ve learned so much from his example.”

But Bruce is modest about the inspiring example he is setting for those around him.

“All of our athletes bring that positivity whether it’s competing on the playing field or being out in the community,” he said. “I feel like that’s something that all of our athletes have to offer.”

Though he hasn’t competed here in Texas yet, Clarke hopes to start training this November or December.

The breakfast will be held Friday, Oct. 18 at the Renaissance Austin Hotel. Registration starts at 6:45 a.m.

To donate to Special Olympics Texas, click here.

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