In honor of Fishers’ celebration of National Disability Awareness Month, we’re featuring community stories related to disability and inclusion every Wednesday throughout March. Learn more about the celebration and how you can be an ally for disability inclusion at fishers.in.us/DisabilityAwareness.
Meet Your Neighbor: Patrick Schooley, winner of the Accessibility Award
My passion for Special Olympics and Unified Sports comes honestly. Our son Colin has Rubenstein-Taybi Syndrome and Autism. The developmental delays meant that he didn’t walk until he was about 3 years old, and he didn’t speak in full phrases until he was around 8 or 9.
He started his involvement in Special Olympics at this time, and he’s participated in as many sports as he could since then. I love just being a dad and watching him compete and just have fun. But honestly, the fact that I’ve been able to also be his coach with Unified Track for 4-5 years, has been an experience like no other.
I had coached football and other sports for over 20 years at various schools before I got involved with Unified Sports at Fishers High School. I have been a part of 2 state championship teams and had amazing experiences and a lot of fun. I can honestly say that the most fun and enjoyment I’ve had coaching is with our Unified sports. The smiles, the enjoyment, the energy, and the friendships make it all just so much fun for me.
My advice to other parents of a young child with disabilities is to never take “no” for an answer. Be persistent, do your research, and fight for the growth and development that you know that your child can have. Lastly, actively search out the support groups and services that your community provides. We owe it to our children to give them the very best life possible that does not include the barriers that others may want to put in their way.
Learn more about March Disability Awareness Month and how you can be an ally at fishers.in.us/DisabilityAwareness.
Patrick Schooley is the winner of the 2021 Accessibility Award from the Fishers Advisory Committee on Disability. The Accessibility Award recognizes an individual, business, or organization in the Fishers community that has made exceptional contributions to advocate and/or eliminate barriers in aspects of community life to ensure persons with disabilities can access and participate in programs, activities, and events. Patrick is part of the Unified Coaches Association of Indiana and Crossroads Officials Association, is an IHSAA official, and a proud supporter of Indiana and Hamilton County Special Olympics. He is the Dean of Students at Fishers High School, Head Coach of Unified Track & Field, and Sponsor of Champions Together Club. The Schooley family has lived in Fishers since January 2020 and enjoys walking, riding bikes, and play at the various parks (Cumberland Park is a favorite). They love the schools, the ever-increasing activities for families, and the way that the City of Fishers is being intentional about providing opportunities for children and adults with disabilities.