In the water, Special Olympian Kyle “Aquaman” Weaver's worries and fears are washed away as he focuses on winning gold for his team. Before diving in, the competitor often feels the pressure, which he alleviates through a quick stop for encouragement at the Salvation Army thrift store in St. Catharines, Ont.

Fan Club
Everyone needs inspiration, and for the gold medalist, inspiration comes through the positive family atmosphere there.

“I want to tell the staff at that store a big thank you,” says Kyle. “They've always been behind me, encouraging, listening and supporting.”

It is this positive energy that Kyle carried with him to the Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Spring Games, winning four gold medals in swimming this past May.

“Kyle is a pleasure to have around,” says Mike Nitsch, the thrift store's manager, who took the time to befriend the swimmer, making him feel welcome.

“We told him before the competition that you can do anything you put your mind to, once you believe in the power of positivity, and he did simply outstanding! We're all big fans of his.”

Two for One
“When I go into the thrift store, I feel that I am a part of that family. I feel more appreciated and I am grateful to them,” Kyle says. He's been a member of the thrift-store family since he and his parents discovered that location 10 years ago.

A member of the St. Catharines Special Olympics Dolphins, Kyle has been competing in swimming and powerlifting for a number of years. He is also active on the baseball and soccer fields.

Kyle has an acquired brain injury from early childhood, but has not allowed that to impede his drive for success. “When you go in the water,
everything that bugs me goes away. When you get out, all the stress is gone,” Kyle shares.

Another place where his stress washes away is at the thrift store, which he frequents once a week to hunt for and purchase his most prized possessions—superhero memorabilia, sports jerseys, DVDs, books and music.

“My family is big on thrift, and when we discovered this store, we really liked the atmosphere and the good deals, which I tell all my friends about,” Kyle says.

“Shopping thrift is just as good as buying brand new,” he adds.

Whether he drops in for the deals or for the support, Kyle's thrift-store fans will always be there for him.

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