Battle Ground High School swimmer Hezekiah Hewes secured a gold and bronze medal during the 2022 Spring Games for the Special Olympics.
Hewes, who has Down syndrome, secured first place in the state’s unified 50-meter swim event on June 18, and also placed third in the 25-meter.
“I feel great (about the medal),” Hewes said. “I got a gold and a bronze. I like swimming because of Coach Michelle. And I like the water and my teammates.”
His mother, Chandra, was thrilled when she witnessed her son’s achievement. On top of his medals, he also graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
“We were so excited for him and happy,” Chandra said. “We always tease him that he can’t come home without a medal, and it’s something my husband started back when we first started with the Special Olympics. It’s something that stuck with him and he works his hiney off to make sure he gets a medal of some sort to come home with.”
Chandra said Hewes will attend the after-school program to receive school services until he’s 21. He also participated in unified bowling and basketball throughout his time in high school.
“This was his eighth year in Special Olympics swimming and his second time to win gold at the state level,” she said. “It’s been a long time since he’s won his first one, which was really exciting because they hadn’t gone to state in a couple years due to COVID, so to jump back into swimming was exciting to see.”
Chandra said the team had to prepare for the event by finding a pool that was open. The nearest one available was in Kelso.
“That made it kind of difficult, but they made it work,” Chandra said.
Another obstacle the team faced was lifeguards who did not show up to the pool, limiting the amount of practice time they had. Despite the odds, Hewes came out on top.
“The season has been kind of a struggle, but for these guys to come out and be able to still prevail is pretty exciting,” she said.
Chandra describes Hewes as “a friend to everyone.” She said her son is “loving, caring, very helpful, and loves everyone.”
“I think the whole town just about knows him, and if they don’t, they soon will know him,” she said.
This year, Hewes was on the high school’s prom court and participated in the Mister Battle Ground pageant, where he won the people’s choice award. She also said Hewes has always loved water and swimming, which inspired him to participate in Special Olympics.
“It was kind of hard to figure out how to get him to be part of Special Olympics, because originally, they were only allowed to start at 8, but at 10 years old we finally figured out how to get him through, and he’s been with the team ever since,” Chandra said.
Once Hewes turns 21 and can no longer receive school services, Chandra said she will try to help him find a part-time job.
“Whatever he does, it’s going to have to be something that involves people and being super-friendly with them, because he’s definitely a people-person. He loves being social,” Chandra said.
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Tuesday, June 28 Report this