By Mara Campolungo
There is nothing more beautiful and inspiring than seeing someone just being themselves.
This past December, Derek “Tank” Schottle, a multi-sport Special Olympian, left his home state of Texas to visit North Carolina. While traveling throughout our community, Tank received many accolades, awards and hugs.
One of those honors was being named The Sandbox’s Ordinary Angel of the month.
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The reason for all this recognition is simple. Tank teaches us how to balance the significance of self with the value of others. As an individual living with disabilities, Tank proves we don’t have to be defined by our outward struggles. We are defined by our inward greatness – our strengths, heart and character.
Tank’s heart overflows with unconditional love for everyone he meets.
Tank inspires so many, but there is a particular place in his heart for the parents of children with special needs. He credits his own parents for guiding him to becoming the incredible person he is today.
He continues to balance self-care and self-love with loving others through encouragement and acts of kindness.
This is what Tank wants us all to know: It’s OK to have emotional and physical needs. We can express our needs without shame. We can share our accomplishments without fear. Struggles are often met with even greater possibilities and opportunities for service. We are not alone. Everyone matters. We are loved beyond measure.
Mara Campolungo is co-founder and executive director of The Sandbox and founder of Ordinary Angels.
Editor’s note: Derek “Tank” Schottle was scheduled to help The Sandbox host its annual golf tournament this month, but the tournament has been rescheduled to Nov. 9 at TPC Piper Glen. Tournament proceeds help The Sandbox provide assistance to families caring for children with life-altering conditions.
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