Daniel J Vance

Perhaps you remember Troy McClain appearing on Donald Trump’s highly rated “The Apprentice” television show in 2004. Since then, besides starting numerous business ventures, McClain ultimately became worldwide a passionate advocate for people with disabilities, including being an official spokesperson for the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Idaho beginning February 7.

‘I’m originally from Anchorage, Alaska,’ said 38-year-old McClain in a telephone interview from his Boise, Idaho, home. ‘And when I was 14, my parents decided they would divorce. So my father took me hunting one last time before the split. From that hunting trip, I got pneumonia and was put in a Native-run hospital.’

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While visiting him in the hospital, McClain’s mother bonded with a 4-year-old Eskimo girl residing there as a ward of the state. DoraLynn Kignack had been institutionalized her entire life, was profoundly deaf, didn’t know sign language, and had an intellectual disability. Unexpectedly, Troy’s mother decided on-the-spot to adopt DoraLynn.

McClain resisted. He felt DoraLynn would negatively affect his popularity with school-age peers due to the social stigma of her having multiple disabilities and being Eskimo.

‘Having my mom make her part of my life was a big change for me,’ he said. ‘I resisted DoraLynn at first. But it was (DoraLynn’s) persistent love for me, without question, that eventually won me over.’

Though DoraLynn had ‘zero communication skills’ at first, McClain sensed something very special about his newly adopted sister. Eventually, they became best friends, and her influence has been a major factor in his becoming a successful real estate developer, speaker through The McClain Company, and a facilitator for Participant Centered Results, a business helping companies change employee thoughts and actions to improve relationships and results.

‘This little girl was a warrior who taught us how to live,’ he said. ‘Today, everybody wants to know where I learned my business principles. They think Trump, Bill Gates or Warren Buffett taught me. (McClain has met all three.) But I learned it from leaders like DoraLynn. I learned from her ability to listen. She is the most proficient person I’ve ever met in terms of nonverbal listening skills. For instance, she taught me how to read people in business settings in which they were telling me one thing verbally and their body language was saying something different.’

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