INDIANOLA, Iowa — Iowa State will not be playing in the Big 12 Championship on Dec. 3, but the state of Iowa will still be represented by Isaac Baldus. An Indianola native, Baldus has been named the Big 12 Special Olympics Athlete of the Year for his involvement in the organization.
Baldus will be honored in the home of the Dallas Cowboys during the Big 12 Championship. Something his family and himself are excited about.
"It's very exciting for my wife Bonnie and I, to see our son have a little bit of a spotlight. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity really," said Rob Baldus, Isaac's father.
"I feel awesome and excitement," Isaac said.
This isn't Isaac's first big-time honor, in 2017, he was the state of Iowa's Special Olympics High School Athlete of the Year. He has won over 50 medals, including two gold medals at the 2022 USA Games.
But there's something about this award and appearing in front of the 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium that is a different experience.
"He'll be wined and dined. He gets a Big 12 Championship ring, which is kind of fun. He'll be on the field for the game. It's just gonna be an all-around neat experience for him," Rob said.
Isaac is a multi-sport athlete having participated in cycling, bowling, softball and even powerlifting. If getting an invite to Dallas wasn't enough to show Isaac's athletic skill, make no mistake, Isaac can lift... a lot.
"For the deadlift, I lifted 341 pounds, It was not hard, that was easy," Isaac said.
Owner of Krave Gym and Isaac's trainer, Tyler Robinson agrees, noting Isaac's talent and that others notice it too.
"He crushes the deadlift. It's funny because a lot of times there'll be other athletes in here training when he's training and he's crushing big weight," Robinson said. "And everybody's looking at him like 'holy crap, that's a lot of weight.'"
Isaac's journey as a Special Olympics athlete started in 2010, a journey that has built confidence and strength.
"He's really developed into an athlete. He's very confident. He's very strong," Rob said."
Isaac's hard work over the last decade has paid off. And now is the time to look back and see just how far he's come.
"Facebook is funny because they show you all your memories, right? And so I get all these memories from him when he was in his younger teens and he's still like the skinny dude, right? And now he is just filled out like a powerlifter," Rob said.
You can weigh the plates on the bar, but you can't weigh the impact the sport has on the family. And for the Baldus family, this moment seems almost seems like a fulfillment of a prophecy.
"I always wanted an Olympic athlete, and we had Isaac and she said there you are. There's your Olympic athlete," Rob said