Colorado Springs is a City for Champions
Our city is full of champions—men and women who know about drive, commitment, sacrifice and the value of hard work. People with aspirations, skills and the passion to accomplish their goals and get where they want to be.
School teachers, nurses, police officers and firemen. Pastors, philanthropists, city officials and business leaders.
The mom working overtime to make sure her children have school supplies. The dad working two jobs so his kids can be the firsts in his family to attend college.
Or what about the homeless man living in a shelter who rides his bike several miles every day to his full-time job washing dishes?
Champions come from all walks of life. But they all have one thing in common—they surge past their limitations and overcome every obstacle in their way. They never quit. They don’t know how to give up. “I can’t” isn’t part of a champion’s vocabulary. They only know how to do one thing and one thing only:
There is no obstacle too high, barrier too wide, or opponent too strong. Nothing is impossible.
Champions overcome it all and work however hard they must to win.
Going from homelessness to Olympic champion
Dartanyon Crockett grew up in the midst of crippling poverty and adversity.
When his mother died of an aneurysm, Dartanyon was only eight years old. He was forced to move in with his dad—an alcoholic living in a crack house in Cleveland, Ohio.
Attending Lincoln-West High School, a school with a depressing 40% graduation rate, Dartanyon joined the wrestling team, hoping it was his ticket out of poverty. He maintained his weight despite only having one meal a day—whatever the cafeteria was serving for lunch. He built muscle mass by carrying his buddy up and down the stairs. The school didn’t have an elevator and his friend no longer had his legs because of a childhood train accident.
To top off the obstacles stacked against him, Dartanyon is legally blind. He was born with Leber’s optic atrophy, a degenerative condition that prevents him from making heads or tails of objects mere inches away.
Despite all of this, Dartanyon competed and won matches. He won a lot, actually. In fact, his high school success garnered national attention from an ESPN producer who helped him transition to competitive blind judo. He competed in the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, winning bronze at each, and won the 2014 blind judo world championship.
Champions of Hope
His determination and perseverance captivated strangers along the way—people that could help fill in the voids, coach him, direct him and help him be the champion he was meant to be. That is, if they took the time and interest to give him hope.
Lisa Fenn, an award-winning television producer and author, met Dartanyon when he was an aspiring high school athlete. She saw his potential, his passion and his drive, and went out of her way to help Dartanyon overcome circumstances outside of his control—circumstances he couldn’t overcome alone. She wrote a book about their championship journey titled Carry On: A Story of Resilience, Redemption, and an Unlikely Family.
Explaining why she helped Dartanyon, Fenn said, “Poverty has less to do with running out of money and everything to do with running out of useful personal relationships.” She further explained that, “Our country is crying out for people who will cross the divide—who will venture into poverty, take a seat, learn the stories, and respond with love.”
Dartanyon needed a champion to come alongside him and give him the help and hope he needed to be successful. Because for him, and so many of us, Fenn explained, “The difference between success and failure is having just one person who believes in you.” His Champion of Hope was Lisa Fenn.
And following her lead, Dartanyon has become a Champion of Hope for others. He has pursued a degree in social work so he can help other kids growing up in neighborhoods just like his reach their full potential.
Dartanyon is only one of the many champions that makes Colorado Springs a City for Champions. He embodies every characteristic of a champion and he has the Olympic medals to prove it. But for Dartanyon, being a champion isn’t something that starts and stops on the judo mat. It encompasses his whole life and he’s using his championship qualities to help others. He’s done simple things like running a coat drive to help guests at Springs Rescue Mission and volunteering his time to inspire others to use their gifts and talents to make a difference in people’s lives.
Springs Rescue Mission needs more Champions of Hope like Dartanyon. There are hundreds of people in our community with amazing potential just waiting for the right person to come along and believe in them. Learn more about how you can be a Champion of Hope for a person struggling with homelessness and poverty today.