Famous basketball player Bend HS steps onto a bigger national stage
Fold a local with Down syndrome to compete in the 2022 US Special Olympics
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – “Total shock.” Shocked and caught off guard. This is how the Walker family felt when their son, Cameron, was chosen to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games.
“My wife and I had no idea what it was,” Cameron’s father Mike Walker told NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday.
Cameron, a Bend High graduate and former director of basketball, is one of 39 athletes selected to represent the Oregon team at the Walt Disney World games next June.
“I’m super excited and will be happy to go to Florida!” Cameron said.
Cameron played for Unified Sports, a program that pairs Special Olympics athletes with those without intellectual disabilities.
The week-and-a-half tournament will be the first time Cameron has done something without his parents’ help – something they say is a huge transition they’ve never seen happen so soon.
“We didn’t often think things with him would get to this level,” said Mike Walker. “We never imagined Cameron as an adult. We never imagined Cameron like a lot of things – because it was difficult.”
“We were just managing things for the moment.”
“Cameron is a great athlete, but the people who brought him there are phenomenal,” Walker said.
“For a long time we talked to him asking, ‘Do you know you have Down syndrome?’ And then one day he was like, “I have Down syndrome” – and he’s totally possessed it, “Mike said.
“But that doesn’t affect him on the basketball court,” he added.
And Cameron already has a winning mentality.
“I’m so excited when I win my game,” Cameron said.
Just like his favorite player, Michael Jordan.
“I practice my moves, like being Michael Jordan, my player. I love Michael Jordan. He’s like me – in the style of Michael Jordan. I’ll be the greatest player,” Cameron said.
Team Oregon will have a training camp in Beaverton next March.
Cameron is excited to step onto the pitch and play the game he loves.
“Basketball is my favorite sport. I started when I was very young. I still love basketball, it’s my dream memory – and it makes me happy!”