SULTAN — Everybody knows Patrick Hess.
Everywhere he goes, he talks to everybody. Students, teachers, sheriff’s deputies, grocery store employees, it doesn’t matter.
Hess, 20, who has Down syndrome, participates in Sultan High School’s transitions program for older students with disabilities. He’s gotten involved in anything and everything through the program, which builds life skills. He’s helped stock inventory at the grocery store, wash cars at the car dealership, make coffee, do laundry and more.
Hess has also discovered a love for powerlifting. If he’s not talking to people or waving at other students as they arrive on the bus, you can likely find him in the gym.
Hess is mostly non-verbal, but his father, Craig Hess, long-time teacher Mark Dalbeck and principal Sarita Whitmire had no trouble telling story after story about him.
Question: Tell me about Patrick Hess.
Mark Dalbeck: They call him the “King of Sultan.” Everybody on campus knows him.
Craig Hess: We go in a food store, people walk up and say, ‘Hey Pat!’ And I’m like, I have no idea who that person is. But they know him.
Sarita Whitmire: He waves at all the buses going by. He goes outside and greets kids as they come out. Gives them high fives.
CH: Now he has a cellphone so he feels the need to call everybody. Multiple times. His sister and his brothers love that.
Q: How does he like school?
SW: When Patrick came in, he fit right in. He was just this fun-loving, funny guy.
He’d come into my office, we’d have good conversations. We’d cheer our coffee together. He’d have his coffee and I’d have mine, and we’d cheer. Celebrate the day.
Music, that’s one of the ways that Patrick and I really connected. Patrick loves music.
Q: What kind of music?
SW: He listens to a lot, but we really connected with rap.
Q: What rappers do you listen to?
CH: I don’t know if you can put that in the paper.
MD: He listens to a lot of Eminem. But at the same time, I’ll hear his Eminem and I’ll say turn it down. Then he’ll put on Billy Joel.
CH: He inherited the music from his older brother.
Q: What does he like to do?
CH: He likes lifting weights. He helps with our dogs, feeds them, brushes them. Rides bikes. He has a really nice three-wheeler.
Everett has a powerlifting team for the Special Olympics, so we’re starting that. We’re kind of excited to see him do it.
Q: Anything else?
CH: Lacrosse season’s about to start. He’ll be on the field with the team the whole time, two hours a day. All the girls come up and talk to him. During practice he’ll offer water to the girls. Even the other coaches, before the game, they’ll come over and high five Pat. They’ll say, “Sorry Pat, we’re going to beat your team.” And he’ll say “No!”
Q: How long has Patrick hung out with the lacrosse teams?
CH: Since we’ve moved here. Players that we coached, they’re married, they’re in their mid-20s. They’ll still see us and ask how’s Pat. Pat was in their lives a lot. It was kind of cool to see them still caring.
Q: How long have Mark and Pat known each other?
MD: Four years. He was a student in my life skills class in Lake Stevens. I walked in and they had pictures of all the students, and you could tell who was going to be what.
He had that look on his face. I said that one’s going to be interesting. And he has been. But he’s grown up a lot in the four years I’ve known him.
CH: Even the last two.
MD: He’s quite the gregarious character.