Celebrating Champions

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EUGENE, Ore. — For some 22-year-olds, waking up early can be a challenge. Not for Bucky Benz. He thrives on independence.

At 7:30 a.m., he’s ready to go. With bags packed, he waits for the bus, eager to start the day.

But there’s something about Benz you don’t know. He has Down syndrome.

Some may say it’s a disability.

By the constant smile on his face you can tell he’s genuinely happy. Benz has in fact blossomed, and a lot of his growth has to do with Pearl Buck Center. He started working there during high school. Now he’s full time four days a week.

“Yes, I do. I love my job. I love Pearl Buck,” Benz said.

He is one of 120 weekly employees in the Pearl Buck production area. They’re assigned to tasks according to their ability and earn money for work completed.

“When he first started working here, he was much more focused on socializing,” said Dale Light, Assistant Case Coordinator. “Now as he’s grown, he’s much more focused on his tasks at work.”

For his mother, Leslie, this recent mature change brings comfort.

“I want him to succeed. I want him to have a full life. I want him to be happy with friends and a job. And you know, he’s reached a lot of goals,” she said.

Another goal, Bucky Benz lost weight. And we’re not talking a pound or two. In a year, he lost 110 pounds on a diet.

He simply started watching his calories.

And he turned to music — something he loves. Not only does he sing. He exercises regularly and performs with the Musical Feet Dance School. His dance troupe will perform at Pearl Buck’s fourth annual Breakfast of Champions, where Pearl Buck clients will be recognized.

They’re not Hollywood stars or big name athletes, just incredible people who overcome challenges every day.

Pearl Buck’s Breakfast of Champions is Feb. 14 at Lane Community College. The public is invited. For more information, click here.

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