Inspirational: Bonds of Sport

Brothers Daniel and David Horne bond over sports, competition and friendship


As Special Olympics athletes, Daniel and David Horne of St. John’s have found their niche in various sports – while continuing to encourage each other and their teammates.

Having Fun 

David works at Island Furniture in St. John’s. Daniel is employed at Home Hardware in the East End of the City. The 25-year-olds, who have Down Syndrome, have been participating in Special Olympics for over 12 years. They joined on the encouragement of teachers at Beaconsfield Junior High School.

“I have been a part of (Special Olympics) to learn things and the main thing is to have fun,” David said during a recent interview at the Horne home.

While they started off with bowling, the brothers have broadened their interests and have chosen what sports they like best. “I do swimming, power lifting, athletics and softball and soccer in the summer. And golf,” Daniel said. “Swimming, bowling, power lifting, snowshoeing, bocce, track and field,” David said when asked about the sports he participates in.

Daniel was a member of the provincial bowling team at the National Summer Games held in Prince Edward Island in May 2018.

Identical but Different

“The best part was competing… and to have family there (from Toronto) to cheer me on,” he said. David has also travelled as a Special Olympics athlete. “I went to Corner Brook… and I ended up fourth overall,” he said of competing in the National Winter Games as a member of the provincial snowshoeing team.

Daniel and David’s mother Sue Horne said Daniel tried snowshoeing but decided it wasn’t for him.  David gave golf a try, she said, but didn’t enjoy it. “You are identical twins but you don’t have to do everything identical…  You are two brothers with your own interests,” Sue said sitting next to her sons at the kitchen table. When asked what sport his brother is best at, Daniel smiles and glances towards David. “David is best at snowshoeing. He can run in those snowshoes,” Daniel said.

It’s that type of love and support that earned Daniel the Special Olympics NL’s 2017-18 Provincial Gina Blundon Award. The award is presented annually to an athlete who refuses to quit, has an excellence attendance record and encourages the success of other athletes before their own triumphs. David said that Daniel is really good at bowling.  “He is great at getting those turkeys,” he said.

Three strikes in a row is called a turkey. “I got 14 turkeys one year,” Daniel said.

Special Olympics NL executive director Trish Williams said her organization is very fortunate to have dedicated athletes and volunteers such as the Horne family.  The family will be among 500 Special Olympics NL athletes and coaches travelling to Grand Falls-Windsor in February and March to participate in the 2019 Provincial Winter Games.

Individual sports of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing will take place Feb. 22-24 while team sports of curling, bowling and floor hockey will happen March 1-3. Williams said Provincial and/or National Games is a life-altering experience for both the athletes and coaches.  

Changing Attitudes 

“Games bring attention to the talents and capabilities of people with an intellectual disability, helping to change attitudes and to break down barriers that can exclude them from full participation in their communities,” she said via email.

Putting off a major Games is a big undertaking, she said, which requires a huge volunteer effort from the host community.   “Special Olympics is delighted to have a strong Games organizing committee, chaired by Mike Brown and hundreds of people in Grand Falls-Windsor signing up to lend a hand,” she wrote. 

Provincial Games also requires a huge fundraising effort by the Special Olympics NL Board of Directors and local clubs, Williams said, as it costs approximately $200,000 to put off a Provincial Games. Basketball star Carl English is fundraising to support the Games, Williams said.  English is teaming up with local artist Sailor Danny to create custom sneakers that he will wear in a game then auction off with the proceeds going to support the 2019 Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Games, Williams said.

“It is wonderful to see so many people working together to make the 2019 Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Games a huge success,” she said. David will compete in snowshoeing at the Provincial Games while Daniel is a member of the bowling team. The brothers are each other’s biggest supporters, their mother said.

Last summer, she said, when Team NL was being “drafted” by local businesses as they prepared to attend the National Games, David represented Island Furniture at the Team NL send off and drafted Daniel as an athlete attending the 2018 National Bowling Championships. 

“It was a true example of how much they support each other in all of their activities, especially Special Olympics,” Sue said.  Sue said volunteering with Special Olympics is her way of giving back to an organization that has changed and enriched her sons’ lives. 

“They have made many lifelong friendships. They have a wonderful social life that evolves around friends they have met in Special Olympics. They love to travel… They enjoy the scheduling where they know what they will be doing certain nights of the week. And it’s also great for the families as well because we get to connect with everybody,” Sue said.

Sue said her family has help from friends and respite workers to ensure Daniel and David get to their activities. In addition to Special Olympics, the family are also involved in other community organizations including the Vera Perlin Society and the NL Down Syndrome Society.

“Everything together has turned Daniel and David into the fine gentleman they are now. As they say ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” Sue said. 

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2 thoughts on “Inspirational: Bonds of Sport

  1. Grace Difalco
    February 26, 2019

    With an amazing mother like Sue, I’m not surprised that David and Daniel are so adjusted and excelling in sports or whatever they choose to do. Thank-you for publishing their story.

  2. Darlene Bain
    February 27, 2019

    Is it possible to have this article mailed to me, these two boys are my nephews and I would love to have a copy of this article,

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