Success Story: Riley

RILEY is attending Terra Community College and studying hard to earn his Power Technology Degree.  He wants to fix farm machinery in the future.

He is a great student who said he just needs to learn in a different way.  Riley said the guidance he receives from the disability center at Terra and his professors, along with help from Ottawa County Board of DD, has helped him succeed in his life.  Last semester his GPA was 3.5, something he (and we) are very proud of!

Riley is a very motivated and busy guy. In addition to taking college courses, he is employed at Christy’s Corners Cafe in Elmore and at a small packing factory in Genoa.  He shared that he likes the people he works with. He looks forward to getting up in the morning and loves going to work.   Sometimes Riley has problems interacting with people due to his autism. He feels that being surrounded by people that encourage him at work, in the community and at home is one of the best things people with disabilities could have.

In his free time Riley participates in track and field, softball, and basketball through the Ottawa County Board of DD and Special Olympics of Ohio programs.  He really enjoys his teammates and coaches, especially Coach Zack and Coach Ray.

Riley said he is very lucky that his bosses, coworkers, family, teammates, coaches, and his intervention specialist are in his life.  One of the things he wants others to know is that people with disabilities can lead normal lives. They want to go to school, work, or just be part of the world.   They just need to concentrate on things that they can do!   “My ability is so much bigger than my disability.”

Success Story: Jeremy

JEROMY is an incredibly focused man. Pair this with his strong work ethic, and it makes for a very full and active life for him.

He is a Tech Ambassador and is also a founding member of the self-advocate group SASSY (Self-Advocates Sayin’ Something, Yeah!) at Ottawa County Board of DD.

Project STIR (Steps Towards Independence and Responsibility) is a leadership training led by and for people with disabilities. Jeromy has worked his way to being a trainer for Project STIR and helps give his peers the tools to advocate for themselves, work with others, and gain leadership skills.

During the covid pandemic Jeromy planned and led two virtual fun activities each week for We Thrive Together. This is an organization that believes that no one should suffer from isolation or loneliness. When their virtual schedule was downsized after pandemic restrictions were lifted, Jeromy decided he wasn’t ready to stop providing virtual activities. He now hosts his own personal podcast.

Jeromy enjoys sports and music. He has his own DJ business, Road Dog DJ, which allows him to share his music with others at conferences and parties. He is on the basketball, softball, and bowling teams for the Ottawa County Rockets. Jeromy is also a member of the Shriners and had a lot of fun volunteering his time a few weeks ago at their circus.

He works several days a week at a local convenience store, where he unloads the trucks and stocks the shelves. In his spare time Jeromy likes to go to casinos, movies and hang out with his friends.

Success Story: Lily

Lilly is making great progress in the Early Intervention program working on developmental milestones. She loves spending time with her family and friends, playing peek-a-boo and ball toss.  She loves Frozen and just celebrated her 2nd birthday.

Success Story: Andrew

Andy is a familiar face to many Ottawa County residents.  He worked at a local supermarket for eighteen years, where his strong work ethic and fun personality made a very positive statement about the benefits of the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in the workplace.

In 2015 Andy needed a change, and started a new job at a local motel where he cleaned the common areas including the lobby, hallways, pool area, gym, and restrooms. In previous interviews, his boss indicated that Andy did an awesome job keeping things in great shape for the motel guests. In 2023 he made a job move to a hotel closer to his home.

What does he do when he’s not working? Andy is a busy guy! He bowls on a weekly league and enjoys watching his dad shoot pool. Faith is an important part of his life, and he is a lector at his church.  He is also involved with a lot of the activities that OCBDD’s REC Team offers to the individuals we serve.  Andy is one of the founding members of the OCBDD self-advocacy group SASSY (Self-Advocates Sayin’ Something Yeah!). He is also a statewide trainer for Project STIR (Steps Towards Independence and Responsibility), a training program for self-advocates designed to provide people with disabilities with the tools to advocate for themselves, work with others in advocacy and gain leadership experiences.

Andy also likes to do stand-up comedy in his spare time and enjoys honing his skills with friends and family. When you leave Andy’s presence, it is most likely with a smile on your face.

In 2019 Ottawa County Probate Judge Hany appointed Andy to serve on the Board of Ottawa County Board of Disabilities. His life experiences bring an invaluable point of view to our board.

Success Story: Heather

HEATHER is a young woman who doesn’t let life pass her by!

She is very active in Special Olympics and plays on four of the Ottawa County Rocket teams—softball, basketball, bowling, and track. She told us that basketball is her favorite, but she is a fierce competitor in each sport.  Heather earned a bronze medal for bowling at the 2022 Ohio Special Olympics State Games.

Her regular participation in OCBDD’s SASSY (Self-Advocates Sayin’ Something Yeah!) group has taught Heather to speak up for herself. She enjoys the guest speakers at the meetings and said she has learned a lot from them.

Heather really loves socializing and is a frequent member of Ottawa County Board of DD’s REC group.  She enjoys going out to eat with them and participates in as many of the fun REC outings as she can.  Heather is looking forward to their trip to the pumpkin patch in October. She also likes to spend a quiet night at home watching TV.

Hobby Lobby is one of her favorite shopping trips. She needs a LOT of art supplies for her hobbies of sewing, bead crafts and jewelry making, and diamond painting!

In her spare time Heather works at a local retail store and shared that she really likes her job.

When asked to describe herself she chose the words happy, helpful, sweet, kind, and thankful.  We can’t think of more appropriate words to describe Heather and are so thrilled that she has such a full and fulfilling life!

Success Story: Mac

“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet” pretty much sums up Mac’s attitude about life.  He always has a smile and some conversation ready to share with people he meets and is a very familiar face in the town where he lives.

Mac has helped at high school athletic events for many years and has formed many strong friendships along the way. He was thrilled to be able to watch the Redskins football team clinch a spot in the final four in their division in 2021! He is active in Special Olympics and plays softball and basketball with the Ottawa County Rockets teams. Family and friends, including the school superintendent, are frequent faces in the stands when Mac plays.

His church community is a very important part of Mac’s life.  Several years ago, a tornado blew through and caused a lot of damage to his hometown.  Mac didn’t hesitate to walk to his local Salvation Army office and ask how he could help.  He worked hard to help distribute boxes to his friends (old and new) and neighbors who were affected by the storm.  He proudly shared that the mayor awarded him with a Citizen of the Year Award and a key to the city. There is also a brick in the park with his name on it and a tree planted in his honor.

Mac comes from a very close-knit family filled with traditions; his two brothers and sister are very important parts of his life. His aunt made him a quilt out of his dad’s favorite t-shirts that is one of his favorite treasures.

He loves books and movies and was excited to see the new Batman movie in the theatre.

So, if you see Mac when you’re out and about, be sure to say hello. He’s always up for making a new friend.


Success Story: Gabby

Gabby was very recently named as an alternate for the Ohio Special Olympics swimming team for the 2022 National Special Olympics Games.   She finished in 1st place at the 2020 State Winter Games at Bowling Green State University.  

Success Story: Jeannie Kimmel

Jeannie Kimmel has found success at the end of a journey that started before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world for many. She began this journey to find a job she felt was useful and would make her happy. During this time, she learned she was important and should feel she was “more than a number.”  Today she is working at the local Wal-Mart on the maintenance crew.