Eric Dompierre is a 19 year old boy with Downs Syndrome from Ishpeming, Michigan and Dean is his father. Eric and Dean Dompierre are Michigan Lights because of their hard work to advocate that the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) change their rules to allow students with disabilities to play sports in their senior year of high school even if they have reached age 19 before September 1.
The crusade to change the MHSAA rule so that Eric could play sports in his senior year began two and a half years ago, when Dean learned that the age requirement would impact his son Eric, who was held back two years. The MHSAA initially declined the Dompierre's request for a rule exception. However, after years of advocacy the individual high schools in Michigan were allowed to vote on the issue and over 94% approved the change (Source).
To receive this athletic participation waiver the students disability must be recognized by either the American with Disabilities Act or Michigan's Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act. It is a one year waiver for 19 year olds that can be approved by the MHSAA executive committee. Part of the requirement is that "A student's disability must diminish both physical and either intellectual or emotional capabilities and cannot create health nor safety risks to participants and does not create a competitive advantage for the team (Source)."
Here is a news story on Eric and Dean Dompierre's efforts done by ESPN.
Special thanks to Eric and Dean Dompierre for being inspirational Michigan Lights. Thanks to their efforts disabled high school athletes and their parents won't have to fight this long battle in the future.
Update August, 2013: Eric Domierre is now 20 years old and was part of the Class of 2013 in his high school. Eric won the 2013 Charles T. Kuntzleman Accepting the Challenge Award. Here is a video of Eric Dompierre receiving this prestigious award in 2013.
Michigan Light honors diverse heroes who are light in the state of Michigan.