How the spirit and love of a Special Olympics athlete changed the life of a 97-year-old veteran

Greg Bailey Image
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Meet the Special Olympics athlete with the power to change a life
Every once in a while, we get to meet a person with the power to change people's lives with their kind spirit. Tank Schottle qualifies as one of those people.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Every once in a while, we get to meet a person with the power to change people's lives.

Tank Schottle is one of those people.

Thousands of people know Tank through social media and follow his countless acts of love and inspiration. But the baseball lover recently had a dream of his own come true.

"I love baseball," he said. "I love all sports, and I think and for me, I always dreamed about throwing out the first pitch."

It wasn't just any first pitch. It was a first pitch at a Houston Astros game at Minute Maid Park.

As an athlete who competes in seven sports in the Special Olympics, it was no surprise he served up a pitch right down the middle at this week's game. For anyone else, that may have been the highlight of their life, but not for Tank.

Emily Ball, who is one of Tank's 100,000 followers on Twitter, said she loves Tank's spirit and his inspirational messages.

"Tank and I have been friends for quite a while on social media," she said.

So when Emily needed help finding someone to lift the spirits of a 97-year-old veteran she cared for in hospice in Oklahoma, she knew exactly who to contact.

"I tell people, 'I love you,' and I want people to hear my love message," said Tank. "All the hope and joy. I always tell people, 'I love you.'"

Tank's spirit and love took over and changed the life of 97-year-old Miss Joan. No one could get her to speak in over a year, but Tank did.

"He told her that she was so kind to enlist for our nation and that he loved her," said Emily. "And Miss Joan said 'I love' to Tank."

That moment was the latest of countless blessings for everyone fortunate enough to hear Tank's voice and listen to a message that will never change.

"Don't let anything stop you from doing something you love," said Tank. "Be happy. Stay positive. Enjoy life. This is your life. This is your moment."