HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — "Show her your championship rings," Charles Lester said as his son Brace raised both hands with his index fingers extended, displaying two big silver rings.
“Right there," said Brace.
Two rings for the two state unified basketball championships that Brace Lester won while he was at Lakeside. The first was a moment that Charles will never forget.
"It was the first time they were bringing the unified team to the state championship," he said. "And so, everybody didn’t know what the response was going to be. It was the first game of the state championship, but man, the crowd got a show, they got a good game and the response was great, it was great."
In addition to basketball, through the Special Olympics, Brace also competes in bowling, track and field, and power lifting – just to name a few.
"He deadlifts 205," Charles said. "We're trying to get past 210. He's pretty good at weight lifting, he's medaled in it."
Brace even has a slogan to help him stay motivated during training.
"Curls for the girls," they laughed together as Brace flexed his biceps. "Curls for the girls."
Brace has been playing sports since the second grade, and Charles has seen just how much they've helped his son.
"Brace has done things that he probably wouldn't have otherwise," he said. "He's got a bend-knee run now. And you know, most guys that have Downs Syndrome don't have a bend-knee run. And Brace just developed that in the last couple of years."
So the plan is to keep Brace competing at the highest level possible for as long as possible.
"If you compete in power lifting, that's pretty much the only thing you have time for in the Summer Games," said Charles. "So he'll have to decide if he wants to continue to compete in bowling and track and field as an independent, but he'll stick with the Special Olympics. Definitely."