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Updated: Aug 29, 2014 5:20AM
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DWU's Inspiring Ian Ames

February 6, 2014, 10:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

DWU's Inspiring Ian Ames
MITCHELL, SD -

You don't have to be a sports fan to appreciate this next story about the Dakota Wesleyan University Track team. Because it's not about how high you jump or how fast you run, but rather about how one coach can change your life.

As athletes on Dakota Wesleyan University's track team practice their special events, Ian Ames has overcome his own hurdles.

"He's a staple of our track meets, of our conference, everybody knows Ian," DWU assistant track coach Derik Fossum said.

Four years ago, DWU hired Ian to be one of its assistant track coaches.  

"Helping, help coach," Ames said.

Ian has downs syndrome. 

Don: Do they listen to you? 
Ian: Yeah. 
Don: What do you tell them? 
Ian: Run and run.

Ian, who grew up in Woonsocket and now lives in Mitchell, doesn't usually say too much, but he doesn't have to.

"He's very hard working, he will always tell you he's working hard today no matter what's going on, 'Ian how are you doing? I'm working hard,' that's his thing," Fossum said.

Ian may have the title as assistant coach, but ask anyone who's been around him and they'll tell you, he's much more than that.

Ian always has a smile for anyone and shares a positive attitude that's an inspiration.

"Any competitive college athlete you got days when you don't compete very well and little down on yourself, but just to have coach Ames come over and give you a fist pound, tell you good job, no matter what, it really puts it into perspective, life is so much bigger than competing, it's about being a part of a family, being a part of a community that cares about you no matter what happens, Ian's never shy to remind you he cares about you," Fossum said.

Ian also works in the cafeteria at DWU and he's a Special Olympian. This weekend, there'll be several Polar Plunges across the state to raise money for the Special Olympics. For more information on all the events click here.

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