Cassidy Hundt has attended her sister Madison’s Special Olympics track and field practices and meets for as long as she can remember – first as her biggest fan and more recently as a devoted coach. Sometimes she wins, other times she doesn’t, but the biggest payoff is always the gleeful look on Madison’s face when she gets a finisher award.
“She doesn’t care about placings. If she gets a medal or a ribbon, she’s happy,” said Cassidy, an attorney at Leigh Hilton PLLC in Denton. “One time, Madison got a purple one, and she was so excited because that’s her favorite color.”
People might think growing up with an older sister who has special needs – there’s a three-year age difference between the two girls – would be overwhelming. Madison, now 29, didn’t get enough oxygen in the womb and was born with brain damage. She mostly has cerebral palsy but also has a little bit of autism, epilepsy, and is visually impaired. She needs help with day-to-day activities that many of us take for granted.
Their father, Daryl Clark, even retired several years ago to care for Madison full-time.
But this is the only life the Clark family knows. Cassidy, who married her high school sweetheart, Tyler, three years ago, wouldn’t trade her sister for anything and is quick to credit Madison as the person who helped mold her into the person she is today. At Leigh Hilton, PLLC, Cassidy focuses on estate planning and regularly counsels families with loved ones who have special needs. She initially became interested in working for the firm in 2017 when her family needed help with their own estate planning needs.
“There was an instant connection,” Cassidy said. “I’ve always wanted to do this because of my sister.”
While there was a language barrier growing up, Cassidy and Madison have always been inseparable and rarely argue. They’ve grown even closer as Madison became quite the competitor on the track in the 50-meter dash and tennis ball throw through various Special Olympics meets throughout the year. She also competes on a co-ed relay team.
Special Olympics, which was founded in 1968, is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults like Madison who have disabilities. Per the organization’s website, they provide year-round training and competition for 5 million athletes worldwide. Despite her impairments, Madison regularly competes in such events for the Cooke County VIPs and has done so for the better part of the last 15 years.
At an area meet in Fort Worth this past April, she finished second in the tennis ball throw. Her toss was roughly 15 feet, and she’s been known to train for the event on the side by playing fetch with Cassidy’s dog. Madison likely would have fared well in the 50-meter dash at the same meet, but that event was canceled due to bad weather.
A week earlier, she finished second in the 50-meter run at another Special Olympics meet. Because of poor weather, it was the only time this season that Madison has been able to compete in the race without it being canceled.
“She’s really good. My job is to make sure Madison is lined up and to tell her to go,” Cassidy said. “The rest is all her.”
When you catch up with Cassidy to talk about Madison, she is focused more on sharing heartwarming stories about their sisterly bond as opposed to Madison’s disability. And rightfully so! Anyone who has had the privilege of meeting Madison will tell you they only see a beautiful and socially active person who makes it her mission in life to bring a smile to everyone’s face. And stories of her escapades and spitfire personality are seemingly endless.
Like the many times Cassidy asks who the best sister in the world is, to which Madison replies, “I am!” Or the fact that Madison always gets “free stuff” wherever she goes, including shakes from Sonic and stickers. When they were growing up, Madison always won random school drawings and to this day has uncanny luck on trips to casinos.
Cassidy and Madison use FaceTime to talk to each other every night at 9 p.m., and when she occasionally spends the night at Cassidy and Tyler’s house in Argyle, rumor has it that she tries to force Tyler to sleep in the guest bedroom, so she can sleep in the same bed with her sister.
“She’s quite the socialite; she’ll tell you how pretty you are, and everyone wants to be around her,” Cassidy said with a laugh. “When Tyler and I first started dating, I told him that Madison and I are a package deal – so if you guys can’t get along, we’re not going to work out. Luckily, they love each other.”
Cassidy added, “I wish I could bring her to work with me – she has great personal skills and could probably help us get more clients. They would love her immediately.”
Whether it’s helping Madison on the track or watching her interact with everyone around her, her sister’s happiness and joy inspire Cassidy in so many ways. Having that perspective makes Cassidy an invaluable member of the Leigh Hilton team of attorneys.
As for Madison, she is undeniably the best sister in the world. It’s a medal she’d wear with pride – especially if it’s purple.
“I got really lucky,” Cassidy said. “She’s my best friend.”