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Special Olympics athlete Karsyn Dahlke is a bright light in Great Falls

 Karsyn Dahlke
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Posted at 5:03 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 19:06:10-04

GREAT FALLS — Special Olympics Montana athlete Karsyn Dahlke makes people smile like it’s her job. That’s because, well, it literally is.

If you’re having a bad day, all you have to do is drive down Ninth Street in Great Falls. When you pass the Allstate Insurance office you’ll see Karsyn smiling and waving on the sidewalk with a sign that reads, “You Are Perfect to Me”, and your outlook will instantly improve.

That’s the effect Dahlke has on people.

“She is the most outgoing, friendly, trusting, loving, accepting person that most all of us know,” said her mother, Jen Gray. “She’s just the life of every situation that she goes into.”

The tradition started last summershortly after Dahlke graduated from CMR High School.

“So once a young adult ages out of the school system, the options for work and respite kind of declines substantially. So she came to work with me,” Gray said. “I work at Allstate. And obviously a desk job is not something that's going to keep her active all day. So she ended up just wanting to sit outside and wave to people because that makes her day to have people wave back at her, honk at her, smile at her, whatever.”

From July 2023:

As for the saying “You Are Perfect to Me," that came from Karsyn’s favorite artist.

"It’s a Pink song. She loves Pink. She turned 23 and we got her concert tickets to Pink in August in Missoula,” Gray said. “And so she is always listening to Pink. She loves the song ‘Perfect’. So it was just kind of fitting.”

When Karsyn is not working at Allstate or Peace Place, she brings her infectious energy and attitude to Special Olympics where she’s competed on the Great Falls Lions and the Hornets for 11 years. It’s an outlet that’s allowed her to grow as a person and teammate.

“Special Olympics, on the Hornets,” Karsyn said. “I like my teammates. It makes me happy.”

Karsyn Dahlke
Karsyn Dahlke

“You know, there was times when she was younger when being positive was not always the case with Karsyn,” Gray said. “She had a lot of emotional issues. And probably in the last 7 to 10 years, she has just kind of grown into herself. She has been just a light and it makes life easier for us and her.”

And Karsyn’s light will continue shining to anyone that looks in her direction in smile or a wave.

“It makes me feel pretty good,” Karsyn said. “I’m happy, not sad.”