Jordan Dickey Is Leading Fishers’ Power Soccer Club, Competing With Team USA & Tackling Stigma

Photographer: Brian Brosmer

Jordan Dickey was born with a rare, genetic muscular disorder — distal spinal muscular atrophy — one that has kept him in a wheelchair since he was three years old. Still, the condition hasn’t remotely kept him from pursuing his dreams and achieving his goals.

When you ask Dickey about his childhood, he describes it as normal, “no different really than other kids.” He grew up in the Pendleton area — a normal childhood with a close family, friends and extracurricular activities.

“I’ve grown up with this, it’s just my life,” Dickey says. “I have two siblings that have (muscular atrophy) as well and that made it easier growing up, sharing our experiences together. My parents were able to give us all the opportunities in the world, and they have been very supportive.”

As Dickey grew older, he developed a love for all sports, but he quickly realized it was soccer that he had the most passion for, and it showed on the field. He started playing wheelchair power soccer when he was 10 years old — meeting more people with disabilities and creating relationships and friendships along the way.

“Meeting more people with disabilities broadened my perspective, even at that age, of what life could become,” Dickey says. “I had role models through soccer who had gone to college, gotten a job, started families, and that really showed me that life doesn’t stop because of a disability. It goes on, you just have to adapt to it.”

Dickey’s passion for soccer only grew stronger throughout high school. It wasn’t long before he was packing his bags for college to head out west at Arizona State University. He continued playing wheelchair soccer for ASU throughout his college career.

In 2011, at only about 18 years old, he got the opportunity of a lifetime when he was invited to join Team USA’s Power Soccer Paralympics team. The team won gold in Paris that year, and Dickey’s love of the sport and pride of playing for his country only continued to grow.

“Going to France that year was a lot of fun,” he says. “Winning the gold medal that year validates the hard work you put into it. It is an amazing experience playing for your country. When you hear the National Anthem, you are so proud of not only what you’ve done but your country, your family and everything that got you there. Just watching this sport grow over the years has been amazing.”

Dickey also competed with Team USA at the 2017 World Cup in Orlando. The team came up short that year, finishing with the silver medal. The second place finish, Dickey says, has left himself and the rest of Team USA itching to get back to the next tournament in 2021, which will be held in Sydney, Australia.

Dickey will travel to Brazil later this year to compete in the Copa America, a qualifying tournament ahead of the 2021 World Cup.

“I’m looking forward to going to Brazil this year and getting back together with Team USA,” he says. “It’s amazing to see this sport spreading all throughout the world. I never thought that I would get to travel the world like this. Every kid dreams of playing for their national team. Power soccer has given me that opportunity, and I’m grateful for it.”

After graduating college, Dickey moved back to Indy. Today, he works as a senior data scientist at Statwax in Fishers. In his free time, it’s still all about soccer for the 25-year old.

Dickey leads the RHI Sudden Impact wheelchair soccer team — a club team based in Fishers. The team practices most weeks at Sand Creek Elementary’s gym, and the athletes have built strong friendships with one another over the years.

“You don’t realize how many people there are with disabilities in our community here,” Dickey says. “They are just living everyday life. Through the club team in Fishers, we get to meet each other and form life-long bonds. I’ve gone from learning from my own role models to being more of a leader on this team and in the power soccer community. It has been a fun experience for me.”

March is Disability Awareness Month in Fishers — a time to celebrate and empower those living with disabilities while also aiming to break down stigmas surrounding the community. It is a topic near and dear to Dickey.

Fishers invited Dickey as one of two speakers to share his own story at the Disability Awareness Month Kick-Off event on March 1 at City Hall. He was thankful to be able to talk about his own experiences.

“It is really important to me,” Dickey says. “I am typically not a big outspoken guy. I’m more quiet by nature. But it is important for other people to realize that people with disabilities are no different than others. We just want to be given the same opportunities as others. Those with physical or intellectual disabilities simply want to be given the chance to prove themselves. I can’t speak for all people with disabilities, but I can speak from my own experiences.

“The stigmas really weren’t there as a kid,” Dickey adds. “I feel like they grow and develop in people as we get older. We are just regular people going through our daily lives just like you are but maybe with a few more challenges. Still, everyone has their own challenges to face in life.”

To other kids growing up with a similar condition as Dickey’s, he offers simple, but sound, advice.

“Find what you are passionate about and a group of people who are also passionate about the same thing,” he says. “Forming that bond with people is important. Whether they have a disability or not, we can all learn from each other.”

For more information on Fishers’ Disability Awareness Month, visit fishers.in.us/999/March-Disability-Awareness.

Celebrate Disability Awareness Month in March

March is Disability Awareness Month, and, for the third year, the City of Fishers will host a month-long celebration to bring awareness to what life is like for those with physical and intellectual disabilities. This year’s theme is “Empowering Fishers: Ask How.”

After the Kick-off event on Friday, March 1 at City Hall, there are still plenty of events available throughout the month.

Think Differently, Shifting the Perspective:  An Interactive Conversation About Fear, Stigma and Assumptions
Thursday, March 7 / 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park

Employers are invited to join Kathy Bernhardt, Managing Director of Tangram Business Resourcing, for coffee and conversation around how employers can meet their employment needs by employing individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Businesses and organizations throughout Fishers will share their stories on how they have employed people with disabilities. Registration is required. Visit fishers.in.us/DisabilityAwareness to register.

Visual & Performing Arts Reception: A Celebration of the Arts and Community Unity

Friday, March 8 / 6-9 p.m.
Conner Prairie Interactive History Park    

Nickel Plate Arts and Fishers Arts Council invite you to a visual arts reception featuring works of art provided by Opportunities for Positive Growth (OPG), Janus Developmental Services, Art Mix, Indiana School for the Deaf, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, clients from the Behavioral Analysis Center for Autism (BACA), clients from Outside the Box, Bosma Enterprises, VIPS – Visual Impaired Preschool Services, Best Buddies, Fortune Academy and the Monon Community Center (Carmel-Clay Parks).

2019 Hamilton County Transition Fair: A Resource Fair for Life’s Transitions at All Ages
Thursday, March 14 / 6-7:30 pm
Hamilton Southeastern High School Cafeteria, Door #1

This annual resource fair features 80 representatives from various organizations that provide services and resources for those with physical and intellectual disabilities of all ages. Attendees can learn where to find services for people transitioning into the Hamilton County community. This event is free and open to the public.

City of Fishers Adaptive Sports Showcase: Celebrating Athletes and Friendship
Saturday, March 23 / 2-5 p.m.

Fishers High School Gym, Door #6  

Tour exhibitions by Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana (RHI) Indy Edge Beep Baseball Team, Indy Premier TOPSoccer, Ball State University Power Soccer Team, Unified Track from HSE and FHS, Special Olympics of Hamilton County Basketball and Cheerleaders and high school athletic groups. Enjoy performances from FHS Electrum Choir, Deveau’s Showteam by Gymroots and 31Svn Street Dance Academy. This event will also feature a raffle.

The showcase is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted at the door.

Movie Showing of “Intelligent Lives”
Presented by the Ball State University Department of English Immersion Learning Course, Disability Representation in Children’s & Young Adult Literature
Tuesday, March 26
/ 6:30 p.m.
Fishers High School Auditorium

Award-winning filmmaker, Dan Habib, follows the lives of three young adults with intellectual disabilities who challenge the perceptions of intelligence while navigating high school, college and the workforce in the 70-minute documentary. A discussion will follow the film.

This film is free and open to the public. Registration encouraged, but not required.