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Dustin Plunkett

2015 World Games Global Messenger

Dustin Plunkett’s story is one of courage and success over adversity.

Born with an intellectual disability and a cleft palate, which left him with slurred and stuttered speech, he found it difficult to make friends with other kids, who seemed hesitant to talk to him or get to know him. His struggles came with the additional burden of an unstable home life; moving often from home to home and family member to family member.

In 1996 Dustin joined Special Olympics Southern California and forged a new set of family bonds. “Special Olympic athletes are like my brothers and sisters and the staff and volunteers are like my parents and they guide me along the way in my life.”

In 2004, Dustin’s life was more than guided by Special Olympics, it was saved. During a visit to the Healthy Athletes Village for a dental screening, a volunteer dentist told him that the condition of his teeth was quite bad and that he would need to be examined by a local dentist. It was during that next visit that the doctor gave him some scary news; he had gum cancer. Though the treatment procedure was difficult and painful, his cancer was caught early enough to be treated and cured thanks to the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program and the volunteer dentist that spotted the issue.

Having been given a second chance, Dustin relishes every opportunity to reach people and to share his own story of success over adversity as a way to inspire others to do the same. Special Olympics has helped empower him to take control of his own life and to break the negative cycle that defined his early life. He continues to give back as a coach for young athletes in basic sports skills and as the assistant basketball coach for the Lakewood Special Olympics program in Southern California. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Southern California, as well as LA2015, the 2015 World Games Organizing Committee, and a member of the World Games staff as a Games Associate and Uniform Coordinator.

Dustin has now been active in Special Olympics for more than 18 years, rising into the ranks of athlete leadership as a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger from 2007 to 2010. That once insecure, shy kid is now a dynamic, articulate public speaker and advocate who has stood alongside the likes of Yao Ming at the World Games in Shanghai and President Barack Obama at the White House.

“I was bullied every day of my life. There were times it was so bad that I cried myself to sleep. But now, with the help of Special Olympics, I can stand up to those bullies and show them my abilities and not my dis-abilities. I can stand up for the athletes that don’t have a voice and can’t stand up for themselves.”


DUSTIN PLUNKETT
2015 World Games Global Messenger

DEBI ANDERSON
2015 World Games Global Messenger

KRISTEN ARIAS
2015 World Games Global Messenger

SHERINA ASSOMULL
2015 World Games Global Messenger

ERIC CHAN
2015 World Games Global Messenger

NANNETTE CLARK
2015 World Games Global Messenger

TERRA CLENDENING
2015 World Games Global Messenger

MICHELLE CORE
2015 World Games Global Messenger

CAMERON CROWE
2015 World Games Global Messenger

A.J. FRY
2015 World Games Global Messenger

ERIC GALINDO
2015 World Games Global Messenger

JOSEPH GORIN
2015 World Games Global Messenger

KIMBERLY GUILLEN
2015 World Games Global Messenger

RAMON HOOPER
2015 World Games Global Messenger

KRISTIN KNUTSON
2015 World Games Global Messenger

ARIEL LOPEZ
2015 World Games Global Messenger

MARCO MARTINEZ
2015 World Games Global Messenger

LUCY MEYER
2015 World Games Global Messenger

REBECCA NERNEY
2015 World Games Global Messenger

ANGELISA ROMO
2015 World Games Global Messenger

RANDY SMITH
2015 World Games Global Messenger

PETE WALDRON
2015 World Games Global Messenger

ALLEN WALES
2015 World Games Global Messenger

MARISA WATKINS
2015 World Games Global Messenger

ELIZABETH WEAVERLING
2015 World Games Global Messenger

andrew6906Dustin Plunkett