Every year, King 5 opens the polls for Seattlelites to nominate the best people, restaurants, gyms, barbers and almost anything into the list entitled, “Best of Western Washington.” The voting opened on Sept. 14, and this will be the third year in a row that Bellevue College student Steve Ferreira has been nominated for the categories “Best College Athlete” and “Best Amateur Athlete.”
Ferreira is a BC student who has not only participated in student programs such as Peer-to-Peer and the PALS Center, but he has also been an active speaker around high schools and colleges in Washington.
Although born with cerebral palsy, Ferreira excelled in his athleticism through track and field by winning three gold medals at his first competition in the summer of 2007 and winning six gold medals in national competitions. Ferreira credits his initial athletic successes to Seattle Adaptive Sports, where he was first introduced to track and field.
When Ferreira began at the college, he found a new coach Thornton Perry, who is also a history professor. “Thornton Perry took an interest in my training and encouraged me to participate in events at Club Northwest in Shoreline,” Ferreira recalled. At Club Northwest, Ferreira competed in the All Comers event, which was held every Wednesday night during the summer. At those events, Ferreira met Greg Stotsenberg, a discus coach at Kings High School.
“I suggested that I might be able to assist him with my experience as the former throwing coach at the long-defunct track and field program at Bellevue Community College,” said Stotsenberg. Stotsenberg regards Ferreira as “one of the most positive people I have met.”
Beyond Disabilities is a nonprofit organization that Ferreira founded in 2011. The organization’s motto is “accomplish your goals at your own pace,” and it follows suit of Ferreira’s past athletic endeavors.
The mission of his organization is to “inform individuals around the world that if you’re disabled, you are just like everyone else, just living life in a different way,” wrote Perry, the author for the nonprofit’s webpage. “I’ve worked very hard at track and field and it’s great to be acknowledged for that,” said Ferreira.
Through Beyond Disabilities, Ferreira is able to speak at colleges in the Pacific Northwest about overcoming disabilities or other obstacles. Although his main audiences are college and high school students, Ferreira plans on “doing more speaking at the lower grades about living with a disability and eradicating bullying.”
Currently, Ferreira trains at a gym in Kirkland called Force 10 Performance. Aside from track and field, Ferreira plays a defensive player in wheelchair rugby, and participates in weightlifting, being able to benchpress 335 pounds. He also expressed an interest in rowing. “It is now a paralympic sport and we do have an organization in the Pacific Northwest that will train you,” said Ferreira.
Voting ended on Oct. 25, and Ferreira placed second for both categories; first place was Danny Shelton for “Best College Athlete.”
Ferreira will continue to work with his nonprofit “to contact schools to spread the word that people with disabilities are capable of doing many things,” expressed Ferreira, “Persistence and hard work will help you achieve your goals.”