“Get tough kid, you aren’t any different than anyone else.” Those were the words uttered to Dave Clark by a Pittsburgh Pirates scout when Clark was drafted in 1971. Those words may not mean much to some, but it provided a “kick in the butt” for Clark – a knuckle-ball pitcher who had to balance on crutches from the mound. When Clark was an infant, growing up in Corning, New York, he contracted polio that stunted his growth and left him without the full use of his legs. At a time when many would rule out any type of physical competition, Clark excelled.
At 5-foot-2-inches, Clark lead a life many dream of… he played professional baseball, managed, coached, scouted, traveled to Europe as a representative of Major League Baseball and owned a barnstorming team that toured the country. Currently he is a motivational speaker, an envoy coach for Major League Baseball International in Sweden and a radio analyst for the Florida Everblades. Not bad for a guy that wasn’t allowed to participate in physical education until the third grade. At that time, a new teacher told Clark he might not be able to do everything, but he was going give it a try. The first day of class, the teacher taught the class how to climb a rope. Clark not only climbed the rope, he was the only one in the class to make it to the very top. This led Clark to make his dreams come true.
Today Clark, along with his foundation — Dave Clark Foundation, Ltd. — is doing everything he can to expand awareness to over fifty million Americans living with disabilities by highlighting their potential and accomplishments. One of the ways this is done is by the presentation of “Dave Clark Pulling Each other Along” awards at events. The award honors contributions of those who have helped others fulfill their dreams under very difficult circumstances. The contributors include family, friends, physicians, nurses, therapists, educators and other various people involved in care and development.
In 2005, Clark met with the Executive Vice President/General Manager of the Fort Myers Miracle (Minnesota Twins, Class-A Affiliate), Steve Gliner, to discuss a Special Needs Camp at Hammond Stadium in Florida. The discussion of the event became a reality, thanks to everyone involved. Clark met with players and coaches the day of the event and provided an opportunity for children and families to come out to the ballpark and spend a morning with the team. There was also a video introducing Mr. Clark and his amazing story. After six years, Mr. Gliner considers it to be the best event of the season for the Miracles saying,
“Each year since, for six years now, we have held a Special Needs Camp here at Hammond Stadium. It is by far and away the best event we do. There is no better feeling than knowing that we can give the opportunity to these kids and their families to come out to the ballpark and spend a morning with our team, and the end result is that they had a great time and were able to put their cares and worries aside. We have Dave Clark to thank for that.”
The next D3 Disability Dream Day event will be held on Saturday, April 28, 2012, at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla.
Dave Clark is married with two children and resides in Florida. As Mr. Clark often closes his presentations, I believe it’s fitting to close this with one of his favorite quotes, “Whatever you choose in life, be sure to give it all you’ve got, because no dream is impossible.”
The Good In Sports salutes Dave Clark and the Dave Clark Foundation for his perseverance, positive attitude and providing endless inspiration to many. We are proud to honor him with an award of his own, a coveted Gold Star.
- If you would like to read more about Dave Clark and his foundation please visit Dave Clark Foundation, Ltd for more information.
Copyright © 2012 The Good in Sports, Inc. All rights reserved.