Northwoods Spotlight - Kayla Dalka June 18Submitted: 06/18/2014
Story By Marisa Silvas

PHILLIPS - Chances are, Kayla Dalka can lift more weight than you. That strength has earned her a spot in the Special Olympics USA Games. She'll be representing Wisconsin in powerlifting.

"I like powerlifting because I like to go to the meets," Kayla explains. "And every time I make a lift that's right, I like to see my coach smile."

Kayla was born with a cognitive disability which affects her IQ. She may have some limitations, but her spirit is undeniable.

"It makes me feel like a champion," says Kayla.

"She wanted to meet different friends and get to know the different kids around school," Kayla's mom Pam Lentz adds. "So she started out in powerlifting."

More than 3,500 athletes will travel to New Jersey to showcase their talents this week.

"When she passed and mom told me she was gonna go, I was really excited for her," Phillips powerlifting coach Jeff Schillinger explains. "I've had five kids make it to worlds and this is just as cool if not better than those kids that were world champions."

One of Kayla's biggest cheerleaders is her lifting partner Damien.

"She's awesome. She did really good, really good," Damien Klepac said. "It's like way to go!"

Kayla's favorite event is the deadlift. At the Wisconsin State Special Olympics she lifted a personal record 305 pounds.

"If you do the right techniques then the good weights will come," Schillinger adds.

She's also flourished working at Club 13 in Phillips.

"Always on time, does whatever you ask her to do, keeps up very well," owner Mike Reed said. "She does a very good job for us."

Powerlifting has helped Kayla grow in many ways.

"She can talk in front of crowds, she opens up her mouth now. She's got a lot more confidence," adds Lentz.

"Kayla will get first place," Klepac exclaims. "She rocks!"

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