Spokesperson of 2009 Special Olympics featured on the Apprentice
By Daniel J. Vance, published January 27, 2009
Disabilities by Daniel J. Vance
Daniel J. Vance’s weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 250 newspapers. Disabilities is the nation’s best-read weekly column about people with disabilities.
In a recent column, you learned about Troy McClain, who was featured on the TV show “The Apprentice” and is a spokesperson for the week-long 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games that begin February 7 in Boise, Idaho. In addition, he’s a real estate developer, sought-after speaker, and Participant Centered Results facilitator. His life changed drastically 24 years ago, when his recently divorced mother adopted DoraLynn, a 4-year-old deaf Eskimo girl with an intellectual disability.
“My mom and I had a big argument when we first got DoraLynn,” said McClain in a telephone interview, who wasn’t thrilled about the adoption then. “The doctors described all her conditions, and kept describing her in language that was uninviting to someone wanting to adopt a child. They said DoraLynn was going to be a cost, would be time-consuming, and eventually, they described her as a liability.”
His mother had been a truck driver and bar bouncer, and described as a liability at one time.
“And her power of persuasion quickly turned these doctors’ heads,” he said. “She said, ‘Let me tell you what a liability is. It is someone who lies about their abilities. And you (the doctors) haven’t even given her a chance to talk.’”
In time, DoraLynn and McClain became best friends. Eventually, she taught him the nonverbal listening skills he would use to build a multi-million dollar business. Through it, he has met business leaders Bill Gates, Donald Trump, and Warren Buffett.
McClain believes society should rethink the way it describes people with disabilities. “Here you have a community of people that we are putting down by giving them labels such as handicapped, retarded, deaf and dumb. We need to start using words that don’t define or limit them. The more we believe people with disabilities are limited, the more we continue to miss out on what they have to offer.”
As for the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games: McClain said not many people realize Special Olympics has summer and winter world events every four years. (The Special Olympics are for people with intellectual disabilities.)
“In size, these games are second only to the (traditional) Olympics,” he said. “It is bigger than the Paralympics (for people with physical disabilities) and the X Games. Athletes from about 110 countries will participate and the Games will create an estimated $50 million cash infusion into Boise.”
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