BUTTE — As a health messenger for Special Olympics Montana, Thad Powell emphasizes the importance of both living an active life and making sound diet choices.
That means loading up on fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and cutting back on red meat, processed foods and sugar. But when asked if he always sticks to that regimen?
"I try to," he said with a chuckle.
A 17-year member of SOMT and the Butte-Silver Bow DD Council team, Thad — who competes in a wide range of sports from Bocce, to cycling to javelin — is one of about a dozen individuals in the health messenger program who encourage their fellow athletes to live healthier lives.
In February, Thad got the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. where he met with Montana Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester to share his message and advocate for health and fitness funding for SOMT athletes.
"It was kind of busy, but I kind of liked it," said Thad of his experience in the nation's capitol.
As a health messenger, Thad was required to complete a practicum and he chose to prepare a quality meal for his teammates that included chicken, potatoes and vegetables — a dish loaded with protein, healthy carbs and essential vitamins. He also shared the recipe with his teammates.
Thad is approaching nearly two decades of participation in Special Olympics Montana. Along the way, he's made lifelong friends and gained a lot of supporters. But perhaps his biggest fan is his mother, Rhoda, who is grateful for the opportunities that SOMT has given her son.
"Special Olympics is an amazing organization," said Rhoda. "They work hard to get their medals but they also are so proud of each other. It doesn't matter if you get a gold or a silver or a bronze.
"And then I just think the programs they put on at state are amazing."