Don’t let Roan’s size fool you, pound-for-pound, he EC’s strongest Champion. But it didn’t start that way.
Roan, diagnosed with autism at age 2, had difficulty maintaining eye-contact, slow language development and had many gut issues. He was introduced to exercise at 3.5 years old where Yoga was instrumental towards getting him engaged. The animal positions he was putting his body into helped him connect the animal identification he was learning in school.
Now at 7 years old, exercise is a part of his weekly routine. He not only lifts 2lb dumbbells but can maintain a Elbows ‘n’ Toes (plank) position better than kids twice his age. He is smart, has no trouble talking and has even co-hosted the Coach Dave Show.
At 18 months old, Rachel lost her ability to speak and was diagnosed with autism. Who knew that she would now be presenting across the country sharing her story.
Rachel doesn’t remember too much growing up but she will tell you that movement played an important part in her physical and cognitive development. At 14 years old, she was reluctant to exercise and when she did, would only wear her school uniform and slip-on shoes. Her dog, Fleur, was her motivator to exercise and today is still apart of her workouts.
Now, 18 years old, Rachel is dressed in exercise gear with newfound hope and optimism. She recently graduated from high school and is excited to see what the next four years can bring. If you want to learn more about Rachel you can catch her on the Coach Dave Show.
Flexing and exercising his muscles was not Anthony’s first choice but because he routinely saw his Dad exercising he was willing to give it a try.
Anthony began working out in his basement at 13 years old, ten years after being diagnosed with autism. It was a challenge to make it a part of his routine but experiencing gains in his muscular strength kept him curious for more. His love of Batman and superheroes is what kept him motivated and the occasional comic book at the end of the session from Coach Dave.
Today, 17 years old, Anthony uses his strength at his first job at Mariano’s. You can also catch him on the Coach Dave Show and at autism conferences, selling products for the EC and talking with others about the benefits of exercise.
At 25 years old, Bill had difficulty catching a baseball. And having played softball for the last four summers this was unacceptable for Coach Dave.
Diagnosed with asperger syndrome and suffering from seizures, professionals and coaches may have been timid to challenge him. Well, challenge was exactly what he needed. Through exercise, Bill has not only increased his muscular strength and coordination but can now catch two balls while balancing on a stability ball! Something most high-level athletes can’t do.
Bill, a die-hard Cubs fan, is an inspiration for many adults because of his “never give up” attitude. Bill is a graduate of Elgin Community College and has been working at Meijer’s for the last four years, along with co-hosting the Coach Dave Show.
Basketball is Noel’s passion although so is working.
Noel, who is non-verbal and diagnosed with autism, has remained active since he was young. Along with basketball, you can catch him swimming laps and even lifting weights. He became apart of the EC because he wanted to work and like many of our Champions never got the opportunity.
Noel has been instrumental in building Visual Exercise Systems for schools and organizations. You can also catch him on the Coach Dave Show teaching basketball. While a paycheck is always welcome, he has a big heart, and also volunteers at We Grow Dreams. There he is responsible for planting, transporting materials and cleaning.
Derek has a powerful story and is full of information. He is happy to share his passion for the solar system and the Chicago Bulls with you. He is even teaching himself Spanish so he can tell more people.
Derek, who grew up in England, is diagnosed with asperger syndrome and Bipolar disorder. His mother was eager to get him healthy when the medication he was taking aided in him weighing 300lbs. With the help of mom and exercise he changed his diet, began exercising and now weights 190lbs.
Derek works in the kitchen at Sisters of St. Joseph, volunteers at Dominican University in the library, and works as an EC representative at autism conferences. Derek is hungry for more challenge and living an independent lifestyle.
Like many people, Mike was struggling to find his path in life. Well, until he discovered exercise.
Mike was 237lbs, borderline diabetic and about to be put on multiple medications and he was only 17 years old. He and his mom new a change needed to happen. Coach Laura was that answer but more importantly Mike’s desire is what lead his transformation. In nine months Mike lost 30lbs, and more importantly, exercise helped him achieve the more difficult task of building self-esteem.
Mike’s grades are better, he works at his school’s café, and began volunteering at Temple Beth El in Northbrook. Mike’s interest in healthy cooking has led him to consider college opportunities in Culinary Arts.
Tough? Just at photo shoots. However, Max is very tough on himself when he sets exercise goals.
Max has been exercising the past two years and just following his sessions; he has better concentration on his homework. Diagnosed with autism at age 5, he has never let that define him. He not only challenges himself to be a faster runner but also to maintain good grades.
Max, a huge Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks fan, recently graduated high school and looks forward to attending college where will study script writing and graphic design.
After her workouts, Sarah flexes her muscles for her family and identifies herself as a “beast.” It’s hard to say what’s bigger, her smile or confidence.
Sarah was diagnosed with down syndrome at birth and experienced many health issues. She began participating in EC workouts in 2013 which made an immediate impact on her self-esteem. She continues to mature after each workout both physically and mentally.
Sarah has a contagious smile and laugh that she shares at her job in Customer Service at ABT Electronics. She is proud of her job, her workouts and continues to challenge herself.
With a smile always so big, we wish this picture could share his adorable laugh.
Brody, diagnosed with autism at age 2, has a passion for libraries and movies. He began exercising at 9 years old because his Mom thought outside-the-box. She knew PT and OT often end and wants Brody to have an active lifestyle and adulthood.
Now, at 12 years old, Brody thrives using the Visual Exercise System. He can performs multiple exercises quicker than most adults. He is always up for the challenge and we can’t wait to see what else we will accomplish in and out of the exercise environment.