LANSING -- Eric Dompierre sat Wednesday in the Senate Hearing Room, pleading for a chance to continue playing sports.
"I have practiced hard, gone to workouts, played on travel teams, gone to sports camps and lifted weights just to get better so I can succeed in sports," he told the Senate Education Committee.
Problem is, Eric, who has Down's syndrome and plays basketball and football at Ishpeming High School, is 19 years old.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association forbids anyone older than 18 from playing. That means Eric won't be allowed to play sports his senior year.
"Imagine where all disabled people would be if rules from 100 or even 50 years ago were seen as unalterable as this one," testified Eric's father Dean.
He has been working for two years to convince the MHSAA to change the rule -- and allow kids with certain disabilities, like Down's, to stay in sports past 18.
So far, no success. The MHSAA has struck down two different requests.
On Wednesday Dompierre asked the committee to pass a resolution that would urge the association to budge.
"My son may be the bravest person I know," he said. "Every day when he walks out the door, he faces more struggles than just about anyone in this room faces."
The committee, Republicans and Democrats, unanimously approved the resolution 4-0. But Eric and his dad aren't celebrating yet. This decision still lies with the MHSAA.
"We've gotten our hopes up in the past only to be let down, so I'm trying not to be too optimistic, but I think with the support we have behind us, I think it would make sense for them to go ahead and change it," Dompierre said.
The MHSAA was not at the hearing, but has said in the past it worries creating exemptions will offer opportunities for some to abuse the system.
The association is set to meet again either May 6 or May 7 to reconsider the rule, especially in light of the senate committee's resolution.