John Ard is someone who needs no introduction to most in the Bowling Green area. Being employed at the Crossroads General Store for over a decade now has allowed John to meet many people over the years. John’s lengthy tenure of employment at Crossroads is due primarily to two things: 1. He is very good at his job as a custodian, and 2. He is extremely dedicated to his job. So dedicated is John to his job that his sister Sonya mentions that if he should miss a day of work for some reason, even if he is sick, it bothers him tremendously. Sonya has encouraged John to occasionally take some vacation time, but this doesn’t appear to be on the horizon anytime soon. As the saying goes, if you like what you do, you never have to work a day in your life, and this is certainly the case with John.
Holding down a regular job in the community like anyone else may lead you to think that John is just a regular guy like anyone else, but there, you would be wrong; John is also an extremely talented artist. Not talented just for someone who happens to have Down syndrome, mind you, but talented PERIOD! John has won many awards for his artwork over the years, and regularly participates in art shows sponsored by the Hannibal Arts Council. John has won the People’s Choice award at the Hannibal Arts Council art show on many occasions, and according to sister Sonya, John’s entry this year may well be one of his best works yet… a painting of Mark Twain inspired from when he dined out at the Mark Twain Dinette in Hannibal after last year’s art show. While at the restaurant, John saw a portrait of the author hanging on the wall, and decided then and there that he was going to do a painting based on the portrait.
Sonya mentions that John owes much of his success as a painter to his art teacher in Louisiana Missouri, Cindy Logan, who is herself an accomplished artist. Those familiar with the quality of John’s paintings are all of the opinion that his star could potentially shine even brighter as a well-known artist, but John is very selective about what he paints and what art shows he participates in. At the end of the day, John is not interested in accolades and awards, he just wants to paint what he wants to paint, no more no less.
John has many talents in other areas, as well. In his younger days, John had an amazing career as a Special Olympics athlete, participating mostly in basketball and bowling. John no longer participates in Special Olympics, but that’s only because he has already won practically every Special Olympics medal known to mankind. John displays his medals on three separate coat hooks on the coat tree in his room, so that people can see them all. An added safety feature of him doing this is that it evenly distributes the weight of the medals around the coat tree; if he were to hang all of his medals on just one coat hook, the resulting weight imbalance might cause the entire coat tree to come tumbling to the floor.
John lives in a nice home with supports provided by Ruth Jensen Village (RJV). The posters that adorn the walls of his bedroom are a testament to his passions in life… horses, law enforcement K-9s, and Chuck Norris, a.k.a. Walker Texas Ranger. John also has an outdoor cat called Tom Tom that he likes to spoil, and even though he lives in his own home now, his family is very important to him.
Outside of his artwork, John’s hobbies include fishing, and, well, working. John’s employment supports are provided by the Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities (PCADD).
John is a success in life because those things he does, he does extremely well. His pursuits aren’t wide-ranging, but once he decides to focus on something, he becomes extremely good at it, whether it be his job or his artwork. John’s talents shatter the conventional notions of what persons with developmental disabilities can and cannot do; his artwork is clearly exceptional on any level.
Now, about that vacation time…