Swimming for Gold

by Nate Kamban   |   Fri, Jun 29th, 2018

Swimming for Gold: The Power of Friendship

Growing up I was definitely not the most coordinated kid in school. When playing kickball or soccer, I often ended up on my back just like Charlie Brown after yet another failed punt with Lucy. However, in the water, it was a totally different story. By the age of three, I was swimming up and down the pool at my grandparent’s house as my grandma would shout, “how can someone be so clumsy on land, but so coordinated in the water?”

Needless to say, I was very excited to hear that Tuscarawas County Special Olympics would be starting a swim team. I immediately decided that I would join the team in order to get to better know some of the individuals and families served by TuscBDD and also enjoy a sport that I love. Like all other members, I was quickly welcomed as part of the team, and I enjoyed attending practices and competitions. I was a member of the unified medley relay team as the swimmer for the breast stroke portion of the race. We did well as a relay team and we were able to compete in the state swim meet at The Ohio State University. It was truly an awesome experience.

When I reflect on this past season, my mind quickly goes back to all of the individuals and families that I was able to meet while participating on this team. The ability to build these relationship was more memorable to me than the competitions or even the gold medal! As someone who works in the administration side of Ohio’s developmental disabilities sector, a lot of my work takes place behind the scenes. It can be easy to get bogged down by deadlines and the intricacies of the Medicaid system. However, by clearing off some time to interact with individuals served by TuscBDD, I was quickly reminded why I love this field and why this work is meaningful and good.

While on the team, I was able to make many new friends one of which is a young man named Donovan. Like me, Donovan enjoys swimming and (drumroll please)…geography! While at an event, I noticed that Donovan carried around a large atlas. This definitely peeked my interest and we became fast friends. When I see Donovan, we immediately begin role playing Who Wants to be a Millionaire and ask each other a series of obscure geography questions. Donovan usually wins by the way.

These moments and these friendships serve as guideposts along the way that hopefully make me a better employee, advocate and friend. I would encourage you today to think about how you can get involved in partnering with our friends, neighbors and co-workers who happen to have a developmental disability in order to create a more inclusive future. You might look into being a unified partner on a Special Olympics team like I did or visit a provider agency to inquire about how you might help out. However you get involved, I am sure that you will also be greatly impacted.

Enjoy your summer!

Your friend,

Nate Kamban

Nate Kamban Fri, Jun 29th, 2018