Success Stories in the IDD Community: Marty Sheets

Early Life

Marty Sheets began his life in 1953 by being born prematurely. The first 15 days of his life were spent in an incubator and soon after that, he was diagnosed with Down syndrome. From a young age, his parents encouraged him to interact with the world to practice his social skills and taught him to be the best he could be. This eventually led him to become a decorated Special Olympic Athlete. 

Athletic Journey

His athletic journey began as a child when he discovered a love for swimming in the pool and waterskiing. As a child, he attended Greensborough Public School. Sheets wrestled for the middle school and was a part of the distributive education program at his high school. At age 15, he began participating in activities designed for intellectually challenged youths. In this program, he stood out for his talents in swimming. In 1968, he was selected to participate in the first International Special Olympics Competition. Sheets was unable to compete because of a brief illness. Although, he was awarded a Gold Medal at the event banquet. This was only the beginning of his Olympic journey. After that, he competed in many other Special Olympic Games.

Sheets ended his athletic career with over 250 Special Olympic medals. He was a multisport athlete competing in events such as golf, tennis skills, skiing, swimming, and powerlifting. Sheets competed in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in the skiing event in 1977. He took home a pair of bronze medals. 


Because of his successes, he was able to meet multiple celebrities and public figures during his athletic career. Some of these include Billy Kidd, John Denver, Arthur Ashe, Evander Holyfield, President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Grant Hill, and Gary Player. He became a member of the Special Olympic North American Golf Committee because golf became his favorite sport. While on the committee, he helped to recruit volunteers, traveled the country, and represented the Special Olympics. 

He was selected as an official torch-bearer for the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta. He has won many awards including the Distinguished Citizen Award from the N.C. Employment Network of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the national Volunteer of the Year Award from the PGA Tour. Sheets passed away at age 62 in 2015. We will remember his legacy. 


LA Times

Must Watch Movies – COVID-19 Safe Activities To Do From Home

Staying home has been an adjustment for all of us.

Here are a few ideas to make staying in just as fun going out.

Must Watch Movies

Since the beginning of quarantine, many of us have taken up watching television to pass time. If this is true for you, it’s probably also true that you are beginning to run out of movies and shows to watch. Look no further, we have assembled a list of movies that has a little something for everyone. You can watch these alone or have a virtual watch party with friends, whatever you choose, a good movie night is a great way to spend the evening.

My Octopus Teacher

By SeaChangeProject – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=93993491

If you love documentaries. This is a must-watch movie. The film follows a worn-out director who decides to find himself again by exploring the ocean. It is a magical film that showcases the bonds that can be made between different species. The colors and film style makes the movie a beautiful and entertaining watch. It is informative but in a way that won’t bore you. To watch this film, all you need is a Netflix subscription, break out the popcorn, and have a ball!


If you like family-friendly movies. The film Soul explores the true meaning of life and self and what goes beyond a person’s time on earth. Despite this being an animated movie that is seemingly for children, this is a film that adults would really enjoy as well. The concepts are very deep and would resonate with any twenty and thirty-something. This Pixar film can only be watched on Disney+ so if you have a subscription, you are in luck!


If you enjoy thrillers. This film is perfect for the intellectual. Parasite is a dark and suspenseful film, that has many different motifs and critiques on class and society. Watching one time will not be enough to pick out all of the social commentaries that the director puts in this film. Parasite has been praised by critics and even won an Oscar for Best Picture. If you want a good watch that has a lot of substance and meaning, Parasite is definitely the film for you.


If you love action movies. Mulan is one of those must watch movies that anyone will watch and genuinely enjoy. It has a little bit of everything, nostalgia, action and it is family friendly. Mulan (2020) is a live action movie that is based upon the popular 1998 animated Disney film. This version however is much more heartwarming and action packed than the older film. Mulan is available to watch with a Disney+ subscription. Even if you did not like the old film, the new Mulan might just steal your heart.

Isn’t It Romantic

If you enjoy Rom-Coms. This movie is a sweet and funny film that will make you cry tears of joy. With a heavy hitting comedy team from the likes of Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine, this movie is not too cheesy and will actually give you a good laugh. This film is great to watch with a significant other or spouse, or during a girls night. You can watch this film on Amazon Prime or Youtube for purchase, it is definitely a worthwhile watch.

For the last weeks post in this blog series, click here.

Independent Life Skills: Transportation

The style in which one lives their life can affect fulfillment and happiness. Community involvement can add a feeling of connection to an individuals life. Skills are needed to be able to successfully be involved with a community. For example, learning the skills safety and transportation allow for independence in the community. At times learning new skills or lifestyles can be overwhelming. It is important to start small and take steps toward bigger goals.

architecture buildings business city
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Public Transportation

Public transportation is a great way for someone to interact with others and gain independence. Often times, people are limited by their inability to drive themselves. Public transportation gives you the opportunity to pursue activities, hobbies and social interactions.

New skills can be scary causing someone to feel overwhelmed and stressed. It could be beneficial to accompany someone learning this new skill until they become more comfortable and confident. Overtime they will be able to use public transportation without anyones help.

Road Safety

Someone learning to become more independent with transportation it is important to become aware of road laws and safety. If they don’t have any experience with these rules it can be confusing. For example, if you have relied on a care taker to explain and guide you through transportation then you wouldn’t have a reason to learn these complex situations.

In addition, Endeavour Foundation recommends that you encourage your loved ones to take a road safety course to help learn the important skills needed to stay safe. Furthermore, it is important to practice these skills every time you use a form of transportation. Having these skills will give the individual confidence in themselves as well as peace of mind to their loved ones.

Previous Independent Life Skills Blogs:

Being On Time

Personal Hygiene

Eating a Balanced Diet


Life Skills and Daily Activities

Lifestyle and Social Interaction


Endeavour Foundation

Success Stories in the IDD Community: Lauren Potter

If you have seen Glee, you have probably seen Lauren Potter. She is an actress from American who played Becky Jackson on Glee. She received much praise for her stellar performance on Glee. Aside from acting, she also is an advocate for people with disabilities, and a comedian. 

Steve Jennings/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Early Life

Lauren Potter was born in Southern California, the birthplace of many actors and actresses, in 1990 on May 10. When Potter was born, she was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Although she could not walk until age two, as soon as she started walking she started attending classes for acting and dance. Potter went on to graduate high school in Riverside, California at Riverside Polytechnic Highschool. After that, she took classes at Irvine Valley College in California. 


Potter made her acting debut at the age of 16 in a movie called Mr. Blue Sky. In 2009, she began playing Becky Jackson of Glee and did that for six years. She was a part of 56 episodes. Her character was part of the cheerleading team and she had a special bond with the cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester. The character of Sue Sylvester had a bond with her because her older sister also had Down syndrome. Sue Sylvester was played by Jane Lynch. Potter went on to win multiple awards for her performance on Glee including the SAG/AFTRA Harold Russell Award. In 2015, Potter played a role in the short film Guest Room. Her character was dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Most recently, she appeared on Chicago Med in 2019. 


Along with making an impact with her acting career, she has been an advocate for people with Down syndrome. President Barack Obama wanted her advisement for the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. He appointed her as a member in 2011. 

In 2015, she was a part of the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. She was an ambassador for the games. At the games, she gave speeches and promoted inclusion. She also has a partnership with Abilitypath and works to end the use of the ‘R-word’. 


Richmond Magazine



Independent Life Skills: Lifestyle & Social Interaction

The style in which one lives their life can affect fulfillment and happiness. Social interaction and independence are the main contributors to someone feeling satisfied and happy. At times learning new skills or lifestyles can be overwhelming. It is important to start small and take steps toward bigger goals.


Independence and happiness start with being able to do fun things in your day-to-day life without the requirement of supervision. These day-to-day activities could include any hobby. For example, shopping can be an easy and fun activity for someone to accomplish on their own.

Shopping allows someone to get out into the community and start to gain more independence as confidence grows. For instance, this hobby might began by getting dropped off at the mall and once confidence as grown enough they could take the bus.

Hobbies can be a great way to gain experience and comfortability interacting in the community. They are also a potential event to socialize and create friendships.

If someone doesn’t have the confidence to learn new skills then household activities can be a beneficial place to start. For example, learning things like doing laundry, ironing, cleaning, and gardening can be simpler to monitor and less overwhelming.

Social Interaction

Relationships are an important part of everyone’s life. Whether these relationships are intimate or not they still have a major impact. Creating meaningful relationships takes certain and practice.

All relationships begin with social interaction and a good first impression can be impactful. Social skills needed to be learned and practiced just like every other skill in life.

Few basic social skills to learn:

  1. Confidence when introducing yourself
  2. Eye contact
  3. Personal space
  4. Common courtesy (Example: Holding a door open)
Previous Independent Life Skills Blogs:

Being On Time

Personal Hygiene

Eating a Balanced Diet


Life Skills and Daily Activities


Endeavour Foundation