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Mud Fun Is More Than Messy!

Alison Gainok and her son, Jacob, attended the Ottawa County Board of Developmental Disabilities (OCBDD) Early Intervention program’s Mud Fun event at Lakeview Park in Port Clinton on Wednesday, August 10, 2016.  Mud Fun, which was open to children ages 0-5, focused on simple play involving activities with dirt and mud.  The event allowed children, including those served by OCBDD, to come together and spend an afternoon socializing and enjoying some sensory fun! 

Jacob, who is almost 2 years old, has received services from the Board since he has been about 6 months old, and continues to make progress in meeting his developmental milestones!  His mom, Alison, shared that she believes it takes a village to raise a child and is thankful for the support she has received from both the Ottawa County Early Intervention Program and WSOS Early Head Start Program.  Alison said Jacob is your typical two year old little boy who likes trucks, cars, motorcycles, Elmo and playing in water.  Although he loves water, he was very unsure of the mud!  Throughout the afternoon, he continued to explore the texture of the mud beginning with just touching and, as his curiosity grew, so did his inquisitiveness. By the end of the afternoon, he had submerged himself in mud from head to toe!

Jacob, just like any other child, sometimes just needs the opportunity to experience something new!  Alison shared, that even though she is a Registered Nurse and has lots of ideas to use when spending time with her son, she feels it’s always good to be exposed and educated on different techniques that can help your child be successful.  Jacob’s physical therapist, Janet, has shared ideas with Alison to help him reach developmental milestones and has provided many resources to assist the family.  Alison stated that Jacob’s speech used to be slow; however, it has increased from being around others at social events such as Mud Fun.  She explained when Jacob is around others he will often pick up and mimic some of the things they are saying and doing.

Alison commented that it is easier to stay on target when you have others who are willing to walk alongside you to offer ideas, direction, and guidance to ensure your child is on track in meeting their developmental milestones!  Mom is very proud of the progress Jacob is making and is excited to attend future events that Early Intervention will host.

If you have an infant or toddler ages 0-3, and have concerns with their development or would like more information about Early Intervention at the Ottawa County Board of Developmental Disabilities, call us at 567-262-3141.

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!

Now, 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



OCBDD Volunteers

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 the community? 

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 Humane Society. 

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 more information.


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 level.

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.          



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 Asperger 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 behavior.  His 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 development.     

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 time.” 

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.

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.

Clay 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.

He is adjusting well to preschool where he attends 4 days a week and receives therapy there, as well.

Nicole 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.

Clay 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.

Clay’s 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, “Yay!”

Nicole’s 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?

Early Intervention 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!

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 event!

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 Catering!

October 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!

Stan 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 DD).   

He 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 year!

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.



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