‘It’s not a disability, it’s an ability’: ‘Dan the Man’ refuses to let autism keep him from doing what he loves

Street Stories

SWANSEA, Mass. (WPRI) ─ Dan Serdynski was diagnosed with autism at a young age.

“When I first heard I was diagnosed with autism, it was a little emotional,” he recalled.

But Dan’s diagnosis hasn’t stopped him from living his life the way he wants to.

Dan, who likes to be called “Dan the Man,” takes weight-lifting and exercising seriously, adding that his favorite pastime also helps him spread awareness.

“It’s hard for some people to learn about autism, but it doesn’t affect me at all when it comes to exercise,” Dan explained. “You just keep motivating and staying healthy. Be strong and be inspiring to everyone.”

Dan splits most of his time between working out at Swansea Total Fitness and his job at the Swansea Public Library.

“I love that job,” he said. “The employees and staff members and especially the building. It’s over 100 years old.”

He said the library is part of his life story. Library director Eileen Dyer agrees.

“He’s always smiling underneath his mask,” she said. “He’s always helpful to the patrons and staff. He brings the best attitude and we can always count on Dan.”

Dan has always wanted to work out with a professional athlete, specifically New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman.

“He’s an amazing athlete,” he said. “I enjoy watching him play football.”

Dan’s positive attitude rubs off on everyone he meets, including Mark Garganta, co-owner of Swansea Total Fitness.

“To us, it’s not a disability, it’s an ability. It’s him persevering anything,” Mark said. “I don’t think I’ve ever looked at him as somebody with a disability. I look at him as a friend and a hard worker and somebody that inspires us every day.”

April is Autism Awareness Month, and Dan has one simple, yet important message he wants to share.

“Spread the awareness for everyone,” he said. “Not just for me, but for everyone.”

WPRI 12 is a proud sponsor of The Autism Project’s 2021 Imagine Walk, which will take place virtually on April 25.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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