20+ Year List Has One Destination Yet To Be Attained
Twenty five years ago, Linda Spears was living in Port
Clinton Ohio and receiving services from the Ottawa County Board of
Developmental Disabilities. Linda was looking for someone to assist with her
care at home and attended a fair called “Providers on Parade” where she met
Linda Rastle. To Linda the decision came easy who to choose as she selected Linda
to assist her as they both shared the same name and it would be easy to
remember! Since that time, the two have shared many journeys in life.
After several years working together, Linda and Linda were
outside on the porch when a passenger train went by and Linda S. stated she
would like to take a trip via train someday. This got Linda Rastle thinking what
it might be like to become travel companions and shortly thereafter, they gave
traveling a try! They started out small with a weekend trip to Kent to visit
Linda Rastle’s mom and see the Cleveland Zoo which was a success! It was then
that they began to save up for their next adventure and Linda would fulfill her
wish to ride a passenger train. The next year, they took the train to Toronto,
Canada. Linda enjoys attending plays, so while in Canada they viewed Phantom
of the Opera. They both had so much fun that they decided to create a vacation
list of places Linda would like to visit.
Together the ladies have visited many interesting places and
along the way have completed other “bucket” items such as flying in an
airplane, a helicopter, and even taking a submarine ride! They have visited
numerous cities like New York, Vegas, Chicago, Indianapolis, Gettysburg, and
Orlando and popular destinations such as the Twin Towers, Statue of Liberty, Niagara
Falls, Biltmore House, Great Smokies, Hoover Dam, and the Pacific Ocean to name
just a few. As the years have passed they’ve checked locations off their list,
including West Virginia, Florida, California and Hawaii.
When she is not working for RVI or on adventures, Linda
enjoys spending time with a group of friends from Faith United Methodist
church. For many years, Faith UMC has made it possible for Linda to attend
Camp Wanake, a Christian camp and retreat facility located in Beach City, Ohio.
Linda also enjoys attending shows at Playmakers, where you may see her working the
doors taking tickets on some nights. When at home, Linda works on embroidery
patterns that she makes as gifts.
So looking back at picture notebooks and souvenir porcelain
dolls, one wonders was there ever a destination that didn’t live up to Linda’s
expectations? Yes Linda immediately responded, New York! It just has too many
people! Linda comments that her favorite destination thus far has been riding
horses in the mountains of Gatlinburg! And about that bucket list…Linda has only
one item remaining, a trip to England to visit her cousins. While there she
will get to see where her mother resided before she was selected as a war bride
during WWII. Linda realizes that England is far and a rather costly trip, but
that doesn’t deter her from saving and dreaming about her goal. In the
meantime, this summer, the ladies will be jetting off for a visit to see their good
friend and co-traveler, Amy in California. While there, they are planning to visit
Disneyland, Universal Studios, the LA Zoo and of course hang out by the pool. Although
Linda is looking forward to California, she continues to aspire to reach her
goal of England!
Friendships bloom despite disabilities
Tom Welco and his sister, Edith Bard receive
services from the Ottawa County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
When Tom and Edith moved to Genoa 25 years ago, they became good
friends with their neighbor, Dennis Marquardt.
Dennis shared that Tom would stop by his house almost every day
and soon the two would begin to take fishing trips and go trapping
together. Eight years after they
began their friendship, which consisted of plenty of laughs, changes
were on the horizon for Dennis.
Tom would learn that Dennis would be moving to Elmore and
marrying his fiancé Judy. This
change meant that he and Tom would no longer be seeing each other daily;
however Dennis thought they could at least meet for fun on the weekends!
Dennis and Tom enjoy breakfast each weekend at either McDonalds or
Tinas. Dennis remarked that
everyone in Elmore probably knows Tom.
If not, Tom who is friendly and outgoing takes it upon himself to
meet those he doesn’t know.
Dennis shared that they always have a good time when they are out and
share a sense of humor like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Last summer, they went fishing on Kelley’s Island and Dennis
commented that Tom is a good fisherman and caught a large sheep head on
the trip. Each spring they
meet and fish at the pond behind the Ottawa County fairgrounds hoping to
catch catfish. This past
September, they traveled to Ludington State Park to try their hand at
salmon fishing. Of course
since no trip is complete without some good food, the guys stopped at
several restaurants to and from their destination and enjoyed some
excellent Texas toast!
Dennis and Tom also like to check out bargains at
local garage sales. Dennis
says he always tells Tom “reach in those jeans and pull out those
greens!” Tom and Dennis,
make it a tradition to go to the local festivals especially the Portage
River Festival and the Grubs & Suds Festival.
Tom, Dennis, Edith and Judy
Tom likes to help out at both festivals washing dishes.
Dennis commented that Tom is a gregarious guy and always makes
new friends each year while he is working at the festivals.
While the guys are going to festivals, fishing,
finding bargains at garage sales and just having fun, the ladies have
their own agenda. Judy met
Edith about 17 years ago.
Since then they have had many conversations and spend lots of time
together. Judy and Edith
call each other just about every day to check in and touch base to see
how the other’s day is going.
They always try to celebrate birthdays and other special
occasions. A few years ago,
in 2012, they took a trip to Frankenmuth, Michigan for Edith’s birthday.
They had such a good time they now have scheduled a trip to the
Edsel & Eleanor Ford House and the Morley Candy Factory.
When not spending time with Dennis and Judy, Edith and Tom can
be found singing karaoke at the Hour Glass Inn located in Genoa.
If you stop in you are sure to hear Tom singing his favorite song
Ring of Fire and Edith singing Amazing Grace.
Tom and Edith both attend Genoa’s senior group and Edith also
works part time at the Hour Glass Inn washing dishes.
Dennis, Tom, Judy and Edith spend almost every
holiday together. Over the
years, Dennis and Judy’s family have made Tom and Edith feel like part
of the family. Judy and
Edith have taken pictures and have scrapbooks full of memories.
Judy has already purchased Edith’s Christmas gift and said that
she is looking forward to seeing Edith open it!
When asked what Dennis and Judy receive from their
relationship with Tom and Edith, they said that they have learned that
everyone can do something and when you are a friend to someone they give
back in ways that you might not even realize.
They make us smile and feel good about being friends.
Dennis said it’s simple to start a friendship with someone with
disabilities, by taking the time to get to know them or take them for
ice cream. After all, that’s
how Dennis, Judy, Tom and Edith’s friendship started!
For more information on services, contact the Ottawa County Board
of Developmental Disabilities, at (419) 898-0400 or visit our webpage at
By now, you probably are aware that Ottawa County
Board of Developmental Disabilities (OCBDD) provides services to people
with developmental disabilities throughout their life time.
Services and supports include but are not limited to birth to
three developmental services, specialized therapy, support during school
years, transition from school, and assists with needs such as housing
and employment. However,
did you know that OCBDD offers opportunities for people to give back to
In recent years, OCBDD has partnered with local
food pantries as well as participated in the Ottawa County Relay for
Life. One recent endeavor was
with the Ottawa County Humane Society located at 2424 Sand Rd., Port
Clinton. When OCBDD REC
Specialist, Bri Combs, inquired if people would like to volunteer to
work with animals, Jonathan Grayson and Rick Vega were eager to assist
as they both love animals.
On their first visit to the shelter, both Jonathan
and Rick chose to spend time in the cattery, as they both have one as a
pet! They spent time
brushing, combing and petting the cats and shared that they had a lot of
fun! Jonathan mentioned
that his favorite cat was the orange one!
The gentleman had such a good time, that they
invite you to go volunteer at the Ottawa County Humane Society.
They are open Tuesday through Saturday (noon-5 p.m.).
Activities range from playing with and grooming lonely pets,
helping out with adoption events, cleaning cages, being a foster parent
to a homeless pet, fundraisers, computer work, and even take a dog to
the park or bottle feed a kitten at home.
Rick and Jonathan both loved their time with the adorable cuddly
kittens and hope to make this a monthly outing.
Since their first trip, others served by OCBDD have heard what
fun Jonathan and Rick are having and want to join in on the fun at the
OCBDD is looking to expand opportunities for people
to volunteer with local businesses and organizations.
If you would like more information about what we can do for you,
contact Carrie Allred, REC Coordinator, at (419) 898-0400 ext. 3113 for
Ottawa County Customer’s see David’s Abilities @
Work Every Day!
You may or may not know David Salyers, but if you
don’t, I am sure you have seen his picture lately.
He’s the Service Clerk from Community Markets that is on posters
and billboards throughout Ottawa County with the logo Ability @ Work.
David, a resident of Ottawa County, has worked for the Oak Harbor
Community Markets store for the past 15 years.
Recently, I had the chance to
meet with David and Lester Weatherwax, Supervisor/ Store Manager of
Community Markets, to find out what is behind that great smile David
flashed for the billboards.
David shared that he previously worked in the fast
food business for 8-9 years before being hired at the grocery store.
He remembers the day he was hired vividly and how his soon to be
boss went to Riverview Industries Inc. (now RVI, Inc.) to interview
another gentleman before his interview.
David explains that he went in for his interview and was hired on
the spot! He began his job
at the grocery store by learning multiple tasks including cleaning,
stocking, and bagging groceries.
Over the years, David has seen many changes
including the store name, a change in supervisor, different co-workers,
the layout of the store, and many others too numerous to mention.
Although things have changed, one thing has remained the same,
the customers. David knows
many of his customers by their first name and shared that serving the
community is his favorite part of the job.
Lester commented that the customers feel the same about David, as
he is always the one that gets the most cookies at Christmas time!
David and Lester have worked together for many
years, as Lester has worked at the store for 32 years.
During their time on the job together, Lester said he couldn’t
ask for a better employee.
David always is at the store before his official start time and over the
last 15 years Lester said he can’t even count on one hand how many times
David has called off. He
also commented that David is the only employee that has never had an
error on his time card, as he punches in and out when he is supposed to,
including lunches. Lester
stated that David is always willing to work whatever schedule is needed
and will stay late if you ask him.
In addition to his role as a Service Clerk, David
and Lester have both competed in the annual baggers contest which takes
place at the local level at Community Markets every July.
The local competition is done during regular business hours and
the public can stop in to watch as baggers from the store compete to go
to State. The State level
competition is held at the Ohio State Fair and if successful at that
level, you advance to the National Groceries Association contest which
is held in Las Vegas. There
is a lot to keep in mind for the competitors as they must focus not only
on speed, but weight, neatness, friendliness, and overall service.
David has entered this competition and has won at the local
Outside of working at Community Markets, David and
Lester also team-up together in the community.
Each year, the store has a float in the Oak Harbor Apple Festival
parade. Last year’s float
was a 50’s theme and David dressed as a character from “Grease” complete
with sunglasses and slicked back hair.
They won third place!
David has also participated in bell ringing for the Salvation
Army, delivering food for the Holiday Bureau and the Food Pantry.
David’s ready to help and even sports his Santa hat to get
everyone in the Christmas spirit!
So next time you are in the Oak Harbor Community
Markets store, be sure to stop by and say hello to David and pick up a
sample of free popcorn, because I was told David is the “Popcorn King”
and makes the best popcorn out of all the employees!
March is Developmental Disabilities Month.
Take a minute to recognize the hard working people with
disabilities, like David.
Get to know them and see their Abilities At Work!
For more information about employing individuals with
developmental disabilities, contact the Ottawa County Board of
Developmental Disabilities at (419) 898-0400.
STUDENT BALANCES THE ROLE BETWEEN PLAYER AND MANAGER
Most days after school you will find freshman Jonas
Hetrick preparing the basketball court for the Oak Harbor High School
Girls Varsity Basketball team.
At a recent practice, Coach Tom Kontak relayed to me that three
years ago they asked Jonas if he would like to help out and be the team
manager and he responded in the way he normally does, by putting his
head down but shook it yes.
Jonas takes his job as manager very serious.
“He places the equipment on court, helps with daily warm-ups and
anywhere he is needed” said Coach Kontak.
“He’s a great addition to our team.”
You see, Jonas has the diagnosis of
syndrome (AS), which is an autism spectrum disorder.
Asperger’s is one of a distinct group of complex neurodevelopment
disorders characterized by social impairment, communication
difficulties, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of
parents, Dave & Denise, convey that Jonas was Failure to Thrive at the
age of one month,
which meant that his weight or rate of weight gain was significantly
lower than that of other children of similar age and gender.
Around 6-12 months of
age they noticed Jonas’ development was not progressing as it should, as
he did not babble or attempt to form words, was very fussy and never
slept. Jonas would
start to catch up on his development to only be behind again.
At that time they turned to the Ottawa County Board of
Developmental Disabilities Early Intervention program to assist with his
To finally receive the diagnosis was a relief for
Dave & Denise. Denise
comments, “Without a diagnosis it is hard to get the services your child
needs. Once Jonas had the
diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, we were able to get the appropriate
services he needed, although having the diagnosis also came with the
realization that there was something wrong, that Jonas would always be
different, and things were going to be difficult for him.”
One of the typical characteristics of Asperger’s is
that the individual is not very social.
This is not so for Jonas however.
Jonas is very popular in school, likes to play basketball and
soccer, and enjoys playing the baritone in the Oak Harbor High School
Marching Band. Denise
states they are relieved how he is accepted at OHHS, especially among
the students. “It
makes us smile when we go to the school or are just out in the community
and everyone says hello to him. It makes us proud to have the kids
at school support and encourage him no matter what the activity is.
They are amazing and do a great job including him and making him feel
like he belongs.”
Jonas plays point guard for the Ottawa County
Rockets, which is the Special Olympics team for the Ottawa County Board
of Developmental Disabilities.
I recently attended a game and was not surprised regarding how
well he handles the ball and loves to shoot 3-pointers.
I also noticed that he has quite the fan base, including OHHS
students that follow him from game to game cheering him on!
For Dave & Denise, every day is a challenge with
the ups and downs of Jonas’ emotions and frustrations – a constant
roller coaster ride. “It’s
difficult to keep a consistent schedule with 3 other children and
keeping Jonas in the loop of what is happening and when.
If a schedule changes, it can be very difficult for him and he
gets frustrated. As a
parent you have to be patient, which is a struggle every day.
You have to repeat yourself more than once or say things a
different way so he understands.”
It is also difficult for Jonas to communicate, especially his
feelings, so therefore he acts them out instead of talking, which is
frustrating to his siblings.
Denise states “his siblings get frustrated because they have to
repeat things often, and he doesn’t understand personal space or alone
As for his future, Dave & Denise state their goals
for him are to learn life skills so he may be able to live independently
and hold a job someday. Jonas
parents are working with his Service & Support Administrator through the
Board of DD to assist through this next transition in his life.
“It’s very important to have a good support system to help you
through the tough days and there will be times you think you cannot do
it anymore, but we are blessed to be surrounded by people who love Jonas
and are willing to work with him and help him.”
For more information about Asperger syndrome or
services the Ottawa County Board of Developmental Disabilities offers,
please call 419-898-0400.
DON’T LOSE HOPE, DON’T BE AFRAID…YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S ADVOCATE…
A journey through the diagnosis of Austism
CLAY WHEELER recently celebrated his 3rd birthday and has transitioned
out of the OCBDD Early Intervention program into a preschool setting.
lives in Port Clinton and loves to look at books and watch his favorite
cartoons (Bubble Guppies and Team Umizoomi).
He also loves running around inside and outside the house and
going for wagon walks.
He and his family enjoy trips to the park together when the weather
permits. Clay’s dad, Josh,
loves wrestling and horsing around with him.
His mom, Nicole said that Clay is well-rounded and has developed into a
very smart boy. She feels
that everything he does is an accomplishment because he has grown so
much in the past year that he has worked with his Early Intervention
therapists. She added,
“It’s an amazing transformation.”
He has learned to put puzzle pieces in the correct spot, drop coins in a
small slot, move toy cars properly and sort shapes into the right
spaces. Every therapist
that Clay has worked with has helped her little boy become the smart
little man he is today and she is so thankful.Clay received occupational and speech therapy from the Ottawa County
Board of DD’s Early Intervention program.
Nicole stated that Clay’s Early Intervention team was all amazing
with him. At first, Clay’s
parents were apprehensive about putting their child into this program
because they didn’t want anything to be “wrong” with their child.
But in the short year that they worked with Clay, he has grown
and changed and it’s all thanks to them.
Mom said that she doesn’t feel that he would be where he is today
without their input and help.
The team made visits to the Wheeler home once a week for 30
minutes. Mom admitted that
at first it was challenging because it was something new for all of the
family to get used to. But
as time went on, Clay got used to it and knew when they showed up it was
time to play.
is adjusting well to preschool where he attends 4 days a week and
receives therapy there, as well.
shared a cute story about Clay.
She said he learned when he brought clothes to his dad or mom
that they would put them on him.
One day, he dressed himself, but found one of his dad’s shirts.
He wanted to wear it so he asked his mom to put it on him.
For almost 30 minutes he walked around in the oversized shirt,
just smiling. He looked
like he was wearing a nightgown because it was so big compared to him.
was diagnosed with Autism in March of 2012 when he was 2 years old.
Nicole said it was devastating at the time, but added that
they’ve grown to accept it and embrace him.
She said it was challenging at first because they went from
raising a 2 year old to raising a 2 year old with Autism.
They had a lot to learn.
Nicole confessed that it’s still not easy, but it’s easier than
when they didn’t know anything about Autism.
parents said the most rewarding part of raising a child with a
disability is when he learns something new, “It’s such a wonderful
time.” Sometimes it takes
him a while to learn something new and when he finally does it after
trying and trying, it is so gratifying to see him smile when we shout,
advice to parents who are beginning this journey is to never give up.
Never stop fighting for your child.
Never stop asking questions.
Never listen when someone tells you that your child may never get
there or your child may not catch up.
Don’t lose hope.
Don’t be afraid. You are
your child’s advocate. If
you have concerns about your 0-3 year old child’s development, you
should contact Early Intervention right away…don’t wait.
What is Early Intervention and how do I contact them?
aims to identify and serve children under the age of three with
developmental delays and disabilities, as provided for under the federal
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and
communicates with parents, doctors, hospitals, child care providers and
other community agencies to identify children with existing
developmental delays, or those with medical diagnoses with a high
probability of delay.
Parents with concerns regarding their child’s development can have their
infant or toddler evaluated by an interdisciplinary team at absolutely
no cost to the family. Children are evaluated for delays in the areas of
adaptive, cognitive, communication, physical, and social-emotional
development using appropriate diagnostic tools. Should intervention be
deemed necessary, individualized services are provided to the child and
family through a Service Coordinator who guides the family through every
aspect of the process, from program entry until the child transitions
out by age three. Early
Intervention can be contacted at 567-262-3141.
Mike Has A Cornucopia of Gratitude This
Thanksgiving is often a time of reflection, of whom and what we are
most thankful for. Michael
Metzger, who recently moved to Ottawa County took a moment to think
about what he is most thankful and answered – family, friends, and his
ability to drive, and have fun!
Mike’s life is full of people that he enjoys spending time with
such as his mom, brother, Lisa, (his girlfriend and best friend of 14
years), Lisa’s family, co-workers, self advocacy team members, his SSA,
and his counselor at The Giving Tree.
Mike resides with 3 roommates and his cat, Garfield in Port Clinton.
In his spare time, Mike visits both his mom and his brother who
live nearby, and especially enjoys spending time with Lisa.
He explained that Lisa and his relationship works well as they
are total opposites, and use their strengths to take care of each other.
One thing they enjoy together is their love of Weird Al
Yankovich! Both Mike and
Lisa’s family know how much the couple loves to attend Weird Al’s
concerts that they often give them tickets as gifts at Christmas or
birthdays. Most recently
they saw Weird Al in concert in the Akron area.
Mike’s favorite Weird Al song is the ever popular “Eat It”!
When not attending concerts, Mike and Lisa enjoy visiting Cedar
Point (Mike’s favorite-The Iron Dragon), movie theaters, and helping out
at East Harbor Campground especially during their annual Trick or Treat
This past summer, Lisa’s family suggested that
they take part in the Erie County Fair’s contest “The animal in me
show”. Mike was paired up
with a local 4-H student who showed a goat and was awarded the Heart
Trophy and received a gift card to a local waterpark!
Mike and Lisa enjoyed the experience so much that they are
already signed up for next year!
The ability to drive is something that Mike doesn’t take for granted,
as it allows him to do different things in the community.
He has a job, attends self advocacy meetings, and helps his
mother with doctor appointments, run errands, and of course, driving for
dates! Mike currently works
for RVI where he goes to different locations throughout the county and
performs janitorial duties.
When not working, Mike is very involved in self advocacy groups in both
Ottawa and Erie Counties, where he
holds several offices and is looking forward to attending Project
STIR this November.
Mike is grateful to both his SSA and his Case
Manager at the Giving Tree who have helped him connect with others to
assist Mike to learn additional skills and become more independent.
One of his most recent accomplishments is being able to cook
bacon in the oven and make pancakes!
Mike shared that he is working hard at becoming more independent
so that one day, he may live on his own and marry his best friend Lisa!
Coffee… It’s Not The Only Thing Brewing At Common Grounds Café and
is National Employment for People with Disabilities Month which raises
awareness about employment issues and the contributions of America’s
workers with disabilities.
National data provided by American Society of Safety Engineers shows
that people with developmental disabilities have a 48% lower turnover
rate, 67% lower medical costs, and ask for 73% less time off from their
positions. This data also
shows that 50% would like to work at a community job.
In celebration of October’s label locally, the Ottawa County
Board of DD would like to spotlight two employees at Common Grounds Café
and Catering, Marlee Fejes and Mac Gilleland.
Lynn James, Manager, of Port
Clinton’s Common Grounds states they offer an opportunity for people
with developmental disabilities to learn skills at the coffee shop that
can be transferred into other community employment should they move on.
New employees start by learning the basics such as dishwashing
and clean up and climb the ladder as their skill level increases.
Employees Marlee and Mac have been working at Common Grounds since
June, and have increased their skill level and are now responsible for a
variety of tasks. Marlee
shared her favorite part of working at Common Grounds is making
breakfast sandwiches for customers.
For Mac, he likes being around the people, both customers and his
co-workers. He said they
are top notch!
In the kitchen, employees obtain skills such as food safety and preparation,
and making cookies and decorating donuts.
Employees at Common Grounds enjoy greeting customers in the café, taking
phone orders, and whipping up your favorite beverage or sandwich.
In addition to kitchen responsibilities, employees run the cash register,
do prep work and clean the café. Lynn
pointed out that “employees see a customer through from start to finish!”
The service doesn’t stop there as workers from Common Grounds also provide
catering services. This fall
employees look forward to attending local festivals as well as hosting their own
“We Love Our Customers!” Day on October 11th with a 10:00 a.m. ribbon
cutting, free samples, and door prizes.
So, if you can, stop by and see Marlee and Mac at Common Grounds, they
would love to meet you and recommend something from the menu!
Common Grounds is located in the Sutton
Center at 1848 E. Perry Street, Port Clinton.
For Local Resident, Community Involvement Makes A Difference!
Galliher, moved to Port Clinton in November of 2012 and has been
enjoying the community ever since! Port Clinton offered various
activities Stan was interested in and that’s what drew him to the area.
He’s had the chance to explore and meet many in the community. He
began his journey by participating in the United Way Volleyball
challenge and served as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. Stan
joined Lake Point Baptist Church where he has met many people including
his adopted family. He has continued to get involved in the
community by participating in a walk for Autism and joining the Ottawa
County Relay for Life “Little Victories team” (Ottawa County Board of
most recently was a part of the Special Olympics Torch Run and is now a
team member of the Ottawa County Rockets Special Olympics Softball team.
This year’s softball season has been fun for Stan. He enjoys
playing shortstop and 3rd base, as it allows him to get into the game!
For Stan, being a part of the softball team is more than just having
fun, he has been able to form friendships with members of the team. He’s
excited as their team may have the possibility of going to State this
When he’s not on the field, or in the
community, Stan works part time for the Clearwater Council of
Governments and Common Grounds coffee shop in the Sutton Center.
He also enjoys going to local festivals and events, often researching
them on the Internet beforehand.
One thing that would make life easier for Stan
is to be able to drive. Stan recently decided to study to obtain
his driver’s permit. Although his current transportation, a
bicycle, allows him to get back and forth to work and he enjoys the
exercise, he is looking forward to driving so he can explore new
territories! Stan continues to strive towards becoming more
independent and living his dream! He’s a guy on the go and in the
know about Port Clinton. If you find yourself bored or looking for
something more in your life, take it from Stan, step out and get
involved, you may just find that it’s the best step you ever took.
Therapy riding opens doors for local fair participant
Chad Karnes began his journey of riding horses when he was seven years old. Carolyn Karnes, Chad’s mother, shared that he began riding at Vail Meadows Equestrian Center as therapy for Asperger’s Syndrome and was a natural from the start. Chad has no tension when he rides and describes it like sitting in a rocking chair. Since then, the family has moved to Ottawa County and Chad now works with Suzanne Miller, trainer at Lemon Tree Stables in Oak Harbor. Chad often rides his bike down to the stables to train with his horse, Dixie, who is leased from the Heiks family. Besides riding, Chad maintains his horse which includes safety precautions, personal care, doing chiropractic stretches to Dixie’s neck, and upkeep of the stall. Carolyn shared that Chad is at his happiest when he is at the stables. Part of that happiness comes from Chad’s interrelation with his horse as well as the other horses at the stables. He is able to observe many of the horses’ habits and behaviors, such as knowing if they are having a bad day, a stomach ache or the fact that they prefer to not be alone in the pasture. As for Dixie, Chad shared that she is the largest horse at the stable and is 12 years old. Trainer, Suzanne Miller, added that Dixie is a gentle horse with a smooth ride and beautiful markings that make her quite the supermodel of horses.
Lemon Tree Stables offers Chad year round training as they have an inside riding arena. Chad has learned such skills as riding without a saddle to increase his balance, dropping sticks into a bucket, and maneuverability. His expertise has allowed him to ride Dixie both inside and outside the fenced-in area.
After almost a year with Dixie, Chad who is a member of the Making Strides 4-H Club, has decided to take her to the upcoming Ottawa County Fair, which runs from July 15-21, 2013. As a first year competitor, Chad will be competing in both Showmanship and the Walk and Trot competitions. Carolyn shared that Chad is currently riding 3 evenings a week to prepare for the fair. It is only through the generosity of the Heiks family that Chad is able to take Dixie to the fair, and Carolyn expresses her gratitude to them.
The skill’s Chad has acquired during his time at the stables has prepared him for his new summer job at African Lion Safari. We wish continued success to Chad with his summer job and at this year’s fair competitions. If you’re at the fair, stop by and say hi to Chad and I am sure he would be happy to introduce you to Dixie!
If you would like more information on riding lessons, boarding, and horse rescues, contact Suzanne at Lemon Tree Stables at (419) 262-4693. For more information about Asperger’s Syndrome or any other disability, contact the Ottawa County Board of DD at 1-800-755-4440, stop by our booth at the fair and like us on Facebook.