Disability doesn’t slow down Ranchos man
Kyle Black works hard every day to hear his heart say “awesome dude!”
The 32-year-old Gardnerville Ranchos resident was born with Down syndrome and has been hospitalized for achalasia, bronchiectasis, pneumonia and several surgeries over the years, but that hasn’t stopped him from living his life to the fullest.
Black enjoys working out at the Douglas County Community and Senior Center, where he said he lifts weights and does pushups and sit-ups.
“When my heart beats real fast, it’s saying ‘awesome dude,’” he said. “That means I’m working hard and I am healthy.”
He is also a member of the Killer Whales, the Carson Valley Special Olympics swim team that practices at the Carson Valley Swim Center.
Black joined the team when it first started in 2014. He even drew the killer whale picture for the team that hangs at the swim center, said his mom, Joanne Fecteau.
“It’s been really good for him,” she said. “Since he’s been going and became a part of the team he’s become a really great swimmer.”
He is now prepping for the 2017 Special Olympics in May and June.
“He started working out for his health,” Fecteau said. “Then it turned into something he really enjoyed doing.”
Black is also a huge part of the community, said his house coach and support staff member Sharol Damberger.
“I think he’s a huge part of the community and it would be very different if not for Kyle and his friends,” she said. “He’s very lucky to have such supportive family and friends.”
Black has been a courtesy clerk at Smith’s in Gardnerville for about 13 years, said Fecteau. He works there three days a week.
“People enjoy seeing him there,” she said. “Some people even make a point to shop on the days he is there just to see him.”
When he is not working or exercising he enjoys hanging out with his friends, making music and volunteering at the Carson Valley Food Closet.
Damberger said Black cleans egg cartons so that everyone who goes to the food closest gets clean and fresh eggs.
“When there is a broken egg, the stores donate them to the food closet,” she said. “Kyle throws away the broken ones and cleans the carton and puts fresh eggs in it.”
Damberger said they also pick up and transport food donated to the closet by Raley’s, the library, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
“We spend about an hour or two helping the food closet, cleaning and organizing,” she said.
She said they also teach a Yoga class geared toward disabled individuals at Going Places in Carson City.
“I teach my friends how to breathe and relax,” Black said.
“They enjoy having Kyle teach them poses and how to breathe,” she said. “It’s like one of their friends is teaching them and they admire and look up to him.”
Black said the best advice he gives people when they are having a bad day is “It will be okay” and wraps an arm around them.
Fecteau said Black is very self-sufficient and likes to do things on his own. Despite what he has been through he just keeps smiling and doesn’t let anything get to him, she said.
“He has his own apartment, he has a job [and] a girlfriend,” she said. “He has a very busy schedule.”
“Kyle is very kind. He likes to love everyone and wants others to love him,” Damberger said. “He’s a big joker and always makes you smile and laugh. He doesn’t let his disability get him down and is an inspiration to many.”