The Olympics provide a huge stage for sports heroes. We've even seen a few local athletes achieve big success in Beijing. There's another little guy who's winning awards right here at home.
Drake Taylor could even show Michael Phelps a thing or two about being a champion -.in the game of life.
It's a sunny, summer day and Drake Taylor has chores to do.
"I love ducks!"
An award–winning 4–H delegate, Drake shares something in common with his miniature chickens.
"I love you chicky.... ducks... quack...quack... And horse...
They're just his size.
14–year–old Drake has a rare form of dwarfism. Doctors estimate there are less than a hundred people like him in the world. Standing a mere 39 inches tall...weighing just 39 pounds...he's the average height and weight of a 3–year–old. But this little guy has a big heart... and even bigger dreams.
"He seems to just overcome anything," said Randy Taylor, Drake's dad.
"He has a can–do attitude. He touches people's lives and he changes them. He pauses them to really re–evaluate what we look at in life as what is success," said Beverly Taylor, Drake's mom.
And Little D...as his mom and dad like to call him... has had a lot of success.
"Some gold medals are bigger than my hand," said Drake.
He's a Special Olympics champion... an award–winning jewelry designer... and has a trophy case.
"This one's heavy!"
...that would make many envious.
Over the years the chief cowboy of the Little "D" Ranch has beaten the odds battling his disorder. But now Drake is in the fight of his life.
Dwarfism often comes with a variety of health concerns. But when Drake started having severe headaches a couple of months ago his parents knew it was serious.
"It is a very rare blood vessel disorder of the brain...the blood vessels are shutting down," said Mom.
It's called Moya–Moya... and it could lead to stroke... aneurysm or worse.
"We get a lot of our strength from Drake...his spirit is ...it really helps us to cope sometimes," said Dad.
Drake's only option is surgery with a specialist in California.
"This is our life–saving opportunity here. We don't have a choice to wait," said Mom.
Despite the tremendous challenges that lie ahead...the Taylors have hope and say they're blessed.
"I think that God chose the two of us to raise Drake...I feel pretty strongly about that," said Dad.
"You just try to be good parents. You do the best you can and we really believe the rest is in God's hands," said Mom.
They've received a unique gift...a child undaunted by his disability and relentless in his love for life and the beauty that surrounds him.
Drake and his parents leave for California next week. Travel and medical expenses will be extensive.
Family and friends are holding a benefit in Drake's honor on Friday, August 29th at the Kickapoo Creek Winery from 5–to–10pm.
Admission is 20–dollars per person and includes a dinner buffet.
Donations are also being accepted at Northminster Presbyterian Church at 691-6322 or at any South Side Bank location.