Daniel Cramer was born on the 25th of June in 1999. He was born six weeks early, but he quickly gained strength and met all his growth milestones on time. Sadly, though, when Daniel turned two, he had his first seizure. He lost all his speech and muscle tone and, suddenly, he was not the little boy we had come to know. After going from doctor to doctor, Daniel was finally diagnosed with Autism, developmental delay, and seizure disorder. It took many years of work to get him to talk again and socialize. When Daniel turned eight, we introduced him to Special Olympics Illinois and the rest is history.
Daniel started bowling and, he loved it so much, he started playing other sports too. He now participates in Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Track and Field, Tennis, Golf, Volleyball, Powerlifting and Snowshoeing, and is still always looking for more sports to play.
In powerlifting, Daniel can bench 165 pounds, and he lifts 360 pounds in the dead weight competition. He and his family feel that powerlifting has given Daniel the strength to do well in all his sports. In the last 12 years of competing, he has earned over 140 medals!
As a highlight of his Special Olympics Illinois career, Daniel was chosen to represent Team USA in the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi. He and his brother Ryan competed in Unified Bocce at the games. He had the experience of a lifetime meeting other athletes from around the world and making many new friends, many of whom he continues to communicate with through Facebook. Daniel made everyone very proud when he won gold, silver, and bronze medals for Team USA!
When Daniel came home, he was honored by the Mayor of Round Lake Beach at a groundbreaking Heroes ceremony. He also went to Springfield and was honored by Governor Pritzker during a luncheon at the Governors Manson.
Along with great sports skills, Daniel also demonstrates leadership skills, as well. For example, after he graduated high school, there wasn’t a local basketball team on which Daniel could play, so he decided to start his own team! He got six friends to join, found a local, indoor court to use and, with the help of his mother/coach, team “Independent Remarc‐a‐Bulls” was formed. This season, the team was undefeated and qualified for state!
Daniel continues to play as many sports as he can and, during this uncertain time, he is participating in the online “School of Strength” challenge to stay strong and healthy. Speaking of healthy, Daniel is also a Health Messenger for Special Olympics Illinois and he takes it very seriously. He wants to keep all of his fellow athletes fit and healthy, too, and extends his own challenge to all of them…“Will all my fellow athletes please take the challenge and keep fit in this time of social distancing.”
Well said, Daniel, and congratulations on all of your success. Thank you for setting a wonderful example for your fellow athletes, peers, and everyone!