Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Kids at Harbison West Elementary School had a very special guest Thursday.
Jon Stoklosa was that special guest. He has down syndrome, but his challenges have not stopped him from achieving great things.
He beat out students, faculty and staff in head to head arm wrestling matches.
No one stood a chance because he’s a world- class powerlifter who can lift more than 400 pounds.
He has won several competitions, works at a grocery store and was even invited to the White House.
“That’s just amazing, it’s a lot of hard work but in that he was able to do all of those things,” Jon’s dad, Hank Stoklosa said. “Me and my wife are really tough we go ahead and put him in positions where he can fail, and he has never failed yet.”
Stoklosa and his parents wanted to show the children how it’s better to focus on people’s abilities rather than their disabilities.
A message their teacher’s wanted emphasized too.
“We want our students to go out and be people that are empowered to advocate for everyone and accept everyone,” 5th grade teacher Brenna Lamprey explained. “So we’ve really put a focus on getting to know them as a person and not focusing on things that are out of their control. “
“They’re able to understand what it feels like if they were to have a disability and were bullied,” Early Childhood Special Education Teacher Beth Reilly said.
The students at today’s presentation were all a part of Project Au-Some. It’s a program that pairs older students with preschoolers who have special needs.