- Scott Elmquist
Will Daniel, born with Down syndrome, says his life is pretty typical. He's underselling himself.
As a member of the Special Olympics' Global Messenger program, Daniel's delivered speeches to gatherings of chief executives, on television and most recently to a crowd of 10,000 at the opening of the Virginia chapter's summer games in Richmond.
He's also involved with the University of Richmond women's soccer team, served as a member of the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, works with medical and dental students at Virginia Commonwealth University and, on top of all that, works at Martin's as a courtesy clerk — a position he's held for nine years.
Daniel takes it all in stride. "I'm just a normal person," he says. "I do normal things."
While Daniel appreciates the significance of his work for Special Olympics — he speaks on behalf of participants about the importance of the games and its message of acceptance — his heart is in soccer. He's traveled to see the men's national soccer team play all over the country and in Europe, and has developed friendships with players and coaches.
In Richmond he regularly volunteers during Kickers games, and he's earned a spot as the UR women's soccer team's unofficial manager, attending most practices and games, helping with equipment and occasionally offering coaching advice.
"He'll come up and say, 'Coach, I really think we should shoot more' — and he's right," says the team's head coach, Peter Albright. "He wasn't a high-level player and he doesn't have the standing to be critical, but does have insights and desperately wants us to be successful, and shares in the excitement of our wins and the frustration of our losses."