Josh’s life started bumpy – after birth he was failing to thrive. At 6 months he went to University of Kansas Medical Center for testing. He was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, of which he was one of about 100 in the world at that time.
Williams Syndrome is also known as “Pixie” or “Elfin” syndrome, mainly due to facial formation and features. It can also include learning disorders, mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, and other symptoms.
After his diagnosis, he then spent almost 5 years with therapists. The main focus, besides speech was retraining his brain with exercise. He had no reflexes, his gross and fine motor skills needed lots of work. He had to learn to reach, stretch and react to his surroundings.
Josh started Special Olympics Kansas at the age of 8. He says what helped him survive being bullied at school, was having friends “like” him to be with.
Josh has become an accomplished young man, thanks to Special Olympics. He attended the first USA Games in 2006 in Ames Iowa and had the honor to meet founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. At those games, he represented Kansas well in aquatics winning a gold and silver.
Josh is a certified Global Messenger, speaking on behalf of SOKS at numerous events. Some of the events include: Kansas Legislators (at the annual Shrimp Peel), provided athlete welcome at Summer Games and State Softball/Golf Games, served as athlete representative at fundraiser Cut-throat Kitchen, was co-emcee at opening ceremonies of Special Olympics North America National Softball Invitational tournament, Stanion Wholesale Electric Charity Golf Tournament, regularly serves as a judge at Topeka Polar Plunge®, and numerous times has provided TV and radio interviews.
He was the first athlete elected to the Kansas Law Enforcement Torch Run Board of Directors, and is diligent in attending each meeting. He was nominated last year as the LETR International Athlete of the Year, and attended International Conference.