Meet Steven, Role Model for Inclusion

When COVID-19 hit, Steven stepped up to the ‘front lines,’ making sure his community had everything they needed.
Steven at work wearing his red Target zip up.

The coronavirus quarantine didn’t make Steven run for cover, despite having a history of cardio and other health issues, plus Down syndrome—all of which put him in a vulnerable, high-risk category.

At this crucial time, Steven was on a mission to help people, as many people as he could.

So, when most folks stayed home and safe, Steven kept to his schedule at both of his public-facing jobs at the local Hyvee supermarket and a Target superstore. He’s been out there for the duration: restocking shelves, disinfecting carts and surfaces, bagging groceries, among other things. Every day, he’s been proving how people with intellectual disabilities can be community heroes.

But Steven still wanted to do more. He was concerned about illnesses, job losses and people suffering—and all the events that were being canceled, including his own Special Olympics sports trainings and competitions. He’s a multisport athlete, so COVID-19 was definitely affecting his favorite activities, plus keeping his fellow athletes at home and isolated.

Curing COVID-19 was a long shot, but helping its victims and finding a vaccine has to start somewhere. So Steven emptied the contents of his piggy-bank; it was time to put his savings—mostly from grocery-bagging tips—to good use.

Steven holding an letter he sent to the White House.

He poured it all into a big envelope and mailed it to Washington, DC for the COVID-19 relief effort.

“Steven doesn’t make a lot of money, but he wanted to help others,” says his mom, Patsy. ”That’s the way he is.”

The donation generated some local publicity and Steven got a surprise visit from staffers of one of his favorite sports teams, the Minnesota Wild. He received a Wild jersey along with some masks to share with his family and co-workers.

He also received recognition from the White House, both through a letter sent from Washington and in-person congratulations from Vice President Pence during a visit to HyVee corporate headquarters.

Steven is a hard worker, who will mark his 10-year anniversary at Target this fall. He is looking forward to getting back to training in his favorite sports, which include bowling, swimming, track and field, golf, softball, skiing, basketball, flag football, and powerlifting. He’s been involved with Special Olympics since age 7—and can’t wait to get back to his friends and the competition.

Until then—and beyond—Steven is working on the frontlines, a community hero who just happens to have intellectual disabilities…and a role model for inclusion!

Role Model for Inclusion: Meet Steven

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