Collin Clarke, a 22-year-old with Down syndrome, defied the odds and fulfilled his dream of competing in a bodybuilding competition through hard work and dedication.
Collin was working at Bob’s Gym North in Evansville, Indiana when he took interest in personal trainer Glenn Ubelhor practicing poses for an upcoming bodybuilding competition.
“I knew that it was my responsibility to befriend him and show him what bodybuilding is all about,” Ubelhor, 48, told PEOPLE. “I started showing him some different moves and giving him advice on diet.”
To take it to the next level would not be an easy road. “Collin was morbidly obese and incredibly introverted and shy,” says Ubelhor. “He was extremely depressed at that time.” Soon the exercise paid big dividends, and not just physically. “His parents saw that was coming out of his shell, and he was this new Collin.”
Collin’s mother, Jodie, hired Ubelhor to begin working with her son on a regular basis. “The more I talked to him, the more I realized that he was really serious about this,” says Ubelhor. “I said, ‘Do you really want to be a bodybuilder?’ And he said, ‘I’ve dreamed of it my entire life.’ He told me his dream was to be on a bodybuilding stage and to perform. That’s all he wanted. I said, ‘I can make that dream come true.'”
But to make Collin’s dreams come true he first needed to stop eating McDonald’s and go on a strict diet. Then he had to commit himself to a rigorous training regiment. Because of Collin’s hard work he shed 62-pounds over the last year.
“The improvements in his cognitive abilities, his social skills, his diction has improved. And a lot of people have the misconception that bodybuilding is done out of vanity, or it’s self-serving, Collin has proved that is not the case,” Ubelhor said.
“What I personally find amazing is the amount of people that Collin inspires each and every day from near and far, and to some extent he has no idea he has that power. He is just being himself – a 22-year-old man with Down syndrome, trying to conquer this world one day at a time,” Collin’s dad added.
On Saturday, Collin’s dream came true and he competed in the Kentucky Muscle bodybuilding championships in Louisville, Kentucky. Clarke showcased his skills and placed fifth in his class. Collin also deservedly won the “Most Inspirational” award. Collin truly is an inspiration to all.