January 17, 2014

“I was very shy before I started Special Olympics.  I didn’t think I could do anything because I had a disability. School was tough and I didn’t think I was good enough,” said 37-year-old Anthony Porter, a Front End Associate at Sendiks in Germantown, Wisconsin.

Porter’s shyness melted away after he joined Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) and the Special Olympics Athlete Leadership Program 14 years ago.  Today, Porter works at Sendiks, a grocery store, a position he thanks Special Olympics for helping him secure.

“Special Olympics showed me I can not only do sports like other kids, it showed me I am capable of doing anything they can do,” said Porter. “[Special Olympics] showed me that people with disabilities can work,” he said. “Special Olympics showed me that I can do it.”

Porter is just one of the 1,150 athletes who is currently employed.  Porter attributes his time management skills in part to his participation in Special Olympics.

“Since I started participating in Special Olympics, I’ve gained confidence and learned how to be responsible,” said Porter.

When Porter isn’t competing or practicing two or three nights a week, he’s at Sendiks, bagging groceries, collecting carts, helping customers load their vehicles, and returning unwanted items. In the summer, he works as a Uniform Attendant for the Milwaukee Brewers.

According to Porter, sports and work are very similar—it’s about being part of a team.   

“The cashier and I work together and rely on each other, just like teammates,” he said.

Sendik’s Customer Service Manager, Anna Schildgen, couldn’t say enough about Porter’s performance on the job. 

“Anthony always has a good attitude and is very personable,” she said. “He has developed strong relationships with customers throughout the years.”

“At Sendiks, we go out of the way to make the customer happy so they come back. It’s about helping elderly ladies out to their cars or assisting that special person who needs help,” Porter  said.

According to Schildgen, Porter is just one of many Sendiks employees who has an intellectual disability (ID); the family-owned business places great importance on employing individuals with ID.

 “I’ve always worked with at least one person with special needs usually on the front-end customer service role and it’s always been a positive experience,” Schildgen said.

“It shows the community that people with intellectual disabilities can hold a job and be successful,” added Porter. “It’s important to see people like me succeed.”

You can help reveal the champion in athletes like Porter.  This tax season, do something Special.  Make a contribution to Special Olympics Wisconsin by designating an amount  in the “Donations” section of your state income tax form. For more information on how to donate, please visit http://sowi.wpengine.com/taxcheckoff/.

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