“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome” Booker T. Washington

This is the very first post on the new Pike Co. Senate Bill 40 “50@50” blog. Our agency is celebrating its 50 year anniversary of supporting persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in 2020. Throughout each week in 2020, we will post a different “success story” featuring persons served with IDD, and how they have succeeded in life. We will also post video interviews throughout 2020 with both persons served, as well as former staff, board members, and others. We are excited to celebrate our 50th year of making a difference in the lives of Pike County persons with IDD! We hope you follow our blog throughout 2020, so stay tuned for our weekly posts!

Success Story #12: Chris Haden

One of the things that you notice right away upon first meeting Chris Haden is that he is a people person. From his hearty laugh, to his big smile and easy-going demeanor, Chris has a commanding yet gentle presence that can fill the biggest of rooms. He has an infectious laugh, the kind of infection we would all welcome these days, which results not in quarantining, but in people around him smiling and laughing along with him. Contact tracing for Chris’ infectious laughter would be easy… just look for everyone nearby who has a smile on their face!

Above: Chris and his friend Scott lead the Special Olympics Torch Run ceremony in 2015.

Chris has the ability to strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone around him, whether he knows them well or not. He has a great sense of humor and can even be a little mischievous at times, but in a fun loving way.

Lindi, Chris’ mom, mentions that Chris has many interests in life and likes to stay active in the community. Some of the things he likes to do include participating in Special Olympics activities (he is a 30 year athlete!), going camping “with the guys” at Camp Wonderland each year, Kansas City Chiefs football, karaoke, “big fires at Tim’s shed” where he roasts hotdogs, camping, attending church at the Second Baptist Church in Bowling Green, shopping, eating out, spending time with his friends, attending the Pike County fair each year, listening to classic rock music, attending PCADD dances, and going on car rides.

Above: “Chris the Pirate” at a PCADD Halloween dance, along with a couple of his friends.

Family is very important to Chris. Lindi mentions that “Chris really enjoys going to his grandma’s farm to help with getting firewood for the wood stove at her house” and that “he once loaded a small trailer all by himself after the wood was cut and split!”

Lindi is very proud of her son, and one of the things she is most proud of is the fact that he currently has two jobs in the community. “He seems to understand more that working gets money which can lead to shopping”, Lindi says, adding, “He likes to tell family members that he gets a check.” The PCADD Community Employment Services program provides Chris’ employment supports.

Chris is also supported in the PCADD Community Living Skills (CLS) day program. Lisa, Chris’ support staff with CLS, helps him to volunteer at two different community sites each week in the area, at The Learning Center and at the Twin Pike YMCA. Lisa says that Chris likes to hang out with his friends at CLS, and enjoys playing cards, doing puzzles, swimming at the YMCA, and checking out Chevys at car dealerships.

Chris resides in a nice home with supports that are provided by Ruth Jensen Village. While at home, Chris likes to spend time with his housemates, ride his bike, listen to music, and watch TV.

Chris is a regular churchgoer, and attends the Second Baptist Church in Bowling Green. Lindi says that Chris “knows most of the hymns and sings along during services”. Chris is a graduate of Bowling Green High School and an avid supporter of the Bowling Green Bobcats.

Above: Chris takes home the gold at a Special Olympics event.

Pizza is Chris’ favorite food… “He will eat anything from a single topping pizza to a super-supreme” says Lindi. Chris also likes to roast hot dogs and have chili and Fritos during his camping trips with family.

Chris Haden is a success story on many different levels. He is an exceptional athlete, employed in two different jobs, volunteers in the community, has a wide network of family and friends, and is a bona fide people person. Chris may be someone with a developmental disability, but like all others with this unfortunate label, this doesn’t define who he is… he’s just a great guy period!

Success Story #11: DeWitt McPike

DeWitt McPike is the kind of son any mother would be proud of. He’s a kind and gentle soul who treats others with courtesy and respect. He’s very polite, taking time to say “please” and “thank you”. He watches out for the well-being of others. He has a good home, holds down two jobs, and even volunteers in the community. And oh yes, Etta McPike, Dewitt’s mother, is very proud of her son, and practically gushes with pride when talking about him.

Above: DeWitt with his former support staff with PCADD, Glenda

DeWitt’s journey to the man he is today wasn’t always smooth. As an individual on the autism spectrum, DeWitt faced behavioral challenges in his earlier years, as he struggled to express himself appropriately. With support, encouragement, and help in communicating, DeWitt has learned to express himself more appropriately, and his earlier struggles with negative behavior are pretty much gone now.

“He has come a long way in terms of his being able to express himself and being able to control his behaviors”, Etta says. “He’s such a people person now. I’m super proud of him!” Glenda, DeWitt’s former, and now retired, support staff at the Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities (PCADD) echoes this sentiment, saying, “He’s a people person. He can go anywhere and start talking to someone in a very mannerable and loving way, and I love that about him.”

Above: DeWitt volunteers in putting items together for the annual Pike Co. Back to School fair.

DeWitt’s family is extremely important to him. DeWitt’s family is scattered everywhere from Bowling Green MO and greater Pike County to Hannibal to St. Louis to North Carolina. Weekend trips to his mom’s home in Hannibal and his sister’s home in St. Louis are frequent. To stay in touch with his more distant relatives, DeWitt uses and I-Pad and Facebook. Mom Etta says that DeWitt had the opportunity to travel to North Carolina not too long ago to visit his family there, and had a great time. “He’d love to go to North Carolina again!” Etta says… and you kind of get the impression this will happen sooner than later.

Amazingly, DeWitt can list off nearly everyone in his family tree, from close relatives to more distant relatives. DeWitt doesn’t really need the aid of a chart, either; it’s all pretty much in his head, and he’s willing to share this information with anyone who has the time to listen. Just a tip, you might want to clear your schedule… he has a big family.

Before the pandemic brought the world to a halt, DeWitt was very active in the community. Some of the things that DeWitt likes to do when there’s not a pandemic going on include swimming, participating in Special Olympics basketball, volunteering at The Learning Center and Head Start, and eating out with his friend Lacy.

DeWitt lives with two other roommates in a nice “supported living” home in Bowling Green, with supports provided by Ruth Jensen Village. Speaking of her decision to have DeWitt live on his own, Etta says, “It was very hard for me to put him there, but I am very happy with his services.” While at home, DeWitt likes to spend time on his front porch and listen to music.

Above: DeWitt enjoys a riverboat cruise with the PCADD Community Living Skills program.

DeWitt also receives support from PCADD, in both the Community Living Skills and Community Employment programs. With supports provided by PCADD, DeWitt is now employed both at the Gypsy Soul Salon and Boutique in Bowling Green MO, as well as at the new Bowling Green Visitor’s Center.

DeWitt McPike is a success story because not only has he overcome the behavioral challenges that he had in earlier years, he has blossomed into a caring and kind soul who improves the outlook of others by the grace of his presence. More than anything, though, he has made his mom proud, and that pretty much makes any guy a success!

Success Story #10: Quentin Miller

Those of us in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) work hard to ensure those we serve have “lives like everyone else” in terms of where people live, work, socialize, have fun, hang out, and in general go about their daily routines. Supporting persons to have lives like everyone else is considered best practice in the field of IDD, and these best practices have been expressed in federal and state policies, national accreditation standards, and evidenced based practices.

The bar has been set high. And so it is with just a bit of irony that an individual who uses a wheelchair has been able to soar far above this bar, clearing it with room to spare.

Quentin Miller, or “Q” as he is known, is THE definitive role model for an individual with IDD living a life like everyone else, so much so that it is difficult to figure out where to start in describing all the ways he is able to do this. Here is a quick summary…

  • He worked for eight years as a paid camp counselor at Wonderland Camp
  • He lives in his own house
  • He directs his own supports
  • He volunteers at the Twin Pike YMCA
  • He has spoken at area civic clubs
  • And, oh yes, he was named the State of Missouri Mental Health Champion with the Missouri Mental Health Foundation in 2014!
Above: Quentin receives the 2014 State of MO Mental Health Champion award

“When I got the phone call that I had won the award, I almost hung up; I thought it was a prank”, Quentin says of winning the Mental Health Champion award. “I honestly had no idea that I had even been nominated”.

Personal accomplishments aside, what lies at the heart of Quentin’s living a “normal” life is his extensive network of friendships. Quentin’s network of friendships transcends what is typical for others with IDD, who unfortunately often struggle in forming relationships with others outside of their peers with developmental disabilities. Quentin has managed to form meaningful relationships with other individuals who do not have developmental disabilities, friendships interwoven within the fabric of the larger community. Such friendships within the fabric of community life have been woven not with needle and thread, but rather participation and contribution; throughout the course of his life, Quentin has been a participating and contributing member of the Bowling Green and Pike County area, and this has resulted in his forming several meaningful friendships over the years.

Above: Quentin with his friend (and support staff) John

This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have friendships with staff, though… take his friend John, for instance. John has been supporting Quentin with the Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities for a while now, and when they first met, their relationship was a formal one of “person supported” and “support staff”. Now, though, they are good buddies. “He likes helping people” John says, and goes on to mention that Q “knows everyone in Bowling Green, I think.” Of their friendship, John says, “he’s more than a client. He talks to me when I have problems. We like the same music and just like to have a good time together.” John and Quentin do many things in the community, such as shopping, eating out, listening to music, taking rides outside, and meeting people.

Quentin is a 2000 graduate of Bowling Green High School. When asked what he is most proud of in his extensive resume of accomplishments, Quentin surprisingly says it is simply “being able to get up and do what I want to do for that day”.  

If that’s not living life like everyone else, what is?!

Success Story #9: Andrea Amelung

Before the world changed a few months ago and our lives were upended seemingly overnight, Pike County said goodbye to a very special lady… Andrea “Andy” Amelung.

A long-time resident of Bowling Green, Andy and her family relocated to Alabama back in March, and took with them the hearts of many. Like many other residents in our area with developmental disabilities, Andy was very well known to the larger Bowling Green community. Andy had extended family at the Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities, Champ Clark Service Coordination, as well as her former employer, MeMe’s Pantry.

While she was here, Andy pretty much did it all, from working in a regular job in the community to being Grand Marshal at the Champ Clark Heritage Days festival a few years ago. Andy’s success in life makes a good case for changing the term “Down Syndrome” to “Up Syndrome”; there’s nothing “down” about Andy!

Although she no longer resides in Pike County, Andy’s story of success provides the kind of inspiration we could all use during these crazy times of social-distancing/hand-washing/self-quarantining/face mask-wearing/temp-taking/remote-working/line-standing/TP-hoarding/surface-disinfecting/????-!!!!

Below are some pictures that tell Andy’s “Bowling Green Story”, as well as some comments from staff that she worked with while here. Andy, if you are out there and see this blog post, we miss you! Take care, and come visit sometime.

Above: Andy was a dedicated worker at MeMe’s Pantry in Bowling Green
Above: Andy’s smile was ever-present!

“I enjoyed Andy so much! She always greeted me when she saw me and often gave me a hug. It didn’t matter if I saw her at the Day Program or at MeMe’s where she worked. She has a big heart and I don’t think she’s ever met a stranger. She is a huge Cardinal’s fan and she loves to travel with her family.  They are good advocates for Andy and have made sure she is a well-rounded individual with a good support network. I feel Andy and I are friends for life and we will keep in touch on social media. Andy is successful because she knows how to make friends, she’s a Christian, she has a good support system, and she’s a good employee for MeMe’s.”-

  • Carletta Sutton, Champ Clark Service Coordination

“I have had the distinct pleasure of being Andy’s friend since 2009 when I became the director of the PCADD Day Program Andy attended two days a week.

I quickly understood why everyone was so incredibly fond of her. That infectious smile and laugh could draw people in, FAST! We quickly bonded over our mutual love of Cardinals baseball, 90’s boy bands and beach vacations! No matter what type of day I was having, or Andy was having, she would always greet me with a big hug, huge smile and some mutual teasing.

After I left the day program, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to continue to have contact with Andy as her Service Coordinator. We easily transitioned into our new “work relationship”, but the friendship never changed. As many know, Andy is a local celebrity here in Bowling Green and I always considered myself special to be the recipient of one of her hugs out in the community (even if it meant she had to step away from others who also wanted her attention).

Above: Andy gets a “goodbye smooch” from her former boss at MeMe’s, Pam Kottwitz

It is not an understatement to say that a piece of my heart now resides in Alabama! But, I do plan to take Andy and her family up on their offer to visit and spend some time with her enjoying the beach and a meal at Whataburger!”- Amanda Pruitt, Champ Clark Service Coordination

Above: Andy and her former co-workers pose in front of some of the awesome treats at MeMe’s: (front row): Pam Kottwitz, Andy, Jamie Spegal (back row): Brian Motley, Cassie Schuckenbrock
Above: Andy poses in front of her ride at the Champ Clark Heritage Days parade as Grand Marshal in 2014

“Andy has a caring and loving heart and always asks about others; every day when she would see me, she would ask me “How is Jacquiline doing?” My daughter and Andy went to high school together, and played ball together growing up. Andy has a great personality and is always welcoming to customers at MeMe’s Pantry. Andy will be missed by her friends and her community.”- Jody Turner, Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities

Success Story #8: Mary Jane McCurdy

One of the main parts of writing the “50@50” success stories is gathering as much information as possible on the person being featured from those who know the person best: friends, family members, and support staff. Often many different things about the featured individual come to light, but in the case of Mary Jane McCurdy, one thing was consistently mentioned by everyone… she’s quite the social animal!

Above: Mary Jane works on a St. Patrick’s Day craft project.

Not just any social animal. In the animal kingdom of social animals, Mary Jane McCurdy is the Big Foot of social animals; the T-Rex of social animals… bottom line, she’s just a very social person and likes being around people! If you have ever come within a 50-foot radius of Mary Jane, you have probably spoken to her, and are now on a first name basis with her.

“She’s very social and doesn’t know a stranger”, says Kelly, her support staff at Ruth Jensen Village (RJV). “As soon as she sees someone she’s never met before, she goes up and asks what their name is”, comments Selenia, her support staff at the Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities (PCADD). Although she is now enjoying her retirement years, one thing is certain… Mary Jane would be hired on the spot if she were to ever apply for any store greeter position.

Above: Mary Jane works on a puzzle at her home

Family is very important to Mary Jane. Her parents are no longer living, but she frequently visits their gravesite at Riverview Cemetery in Louisiana MO, sometimes setting out flowers. Mary Jane also maintains close contact with her sister in Vandalia, her uncle in Bowling Green, and her niece in Louisiana MO.

Mary Jane’s hobbies include doing word search puzzles, crafts, artwork, and working on jig saw puzzles. No puzzle is too complicated for her; she often completes 500 and 1,000 piece puzzles!

Mary Jane lives in a very nice home in Bowling Green with two other roommates; three if you count the furry, four-legged K-9 roommate known as “Honey”. Mary Jane’s residential supports are provided by RJV. Staff at RJV support Mary Jane in doing the things she wants to do, both at home and in the community, such as shopping and attending church at Faith Baptist Church in Louisiana. Mary Jane likes to maintain a clean house, and is great with the vacuum cleaner. Mary Jane’s love of family is evident by the many pictures of her family members that are found throughout her room. She also has a great collection of dolls and velveteen rabbits that she has on display.

Above: Mary Jane often places flowers at the grave site of her parents.

During the day, Mary Jane attends the PCADD Community Living Skills day program, and is supported by PCADD staff to do a variety of things in the community, such as helping out with the exercise activities at Country View Nursing Home and walking the track at the YMCA in Louisiana MO. Area dollar stores and Walmart are among Mary Jane’s favorite places to shop, and she occasionally gets to go on farther day trips to Hannibal, Troy, and Wentzville to see the sites in these communities. “I enjoy working with her; she very friendly, caring, and thinks a lot of her peers”, mentions Selenia, her support staff with PCADD.

Mary Jane McCurdy is one of a select number of people that we all know in life who make our day just a bit more pleasing by their friendly and easy-going demeanor. This fact alone qualifies Mary Jane as a success story. She’s a social animal, yes, but she doesn’t bite; you might just get a hug, though.

Success Story #7: Kristina Spears

 ini·​tia·​tive | \ i-ˈni-shə-tiv  also -shē-ə-tiv \

Definition of initiative:  energy or aptitude displayed in initiation of action 

Taken from the Merriam Webster dictionary, the above definition of “initiative” very much describes a certain individual by the name of Kristina Spears.

Above: Kristina shows off her graduation certificate from the Partners in Policymaking program

Kristina is someone with boatloads of initiative. She is a young woman who knows what she wants in life and pursues it with relentless energy. It is in part because of Kristina’s initiative that she initially applied for, participated in, and eventually graduated from, the prestigious Partners in Policymaking program with the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council. Partners is a yearlong program where participants meet each month over a period of two days. The Partners program provides leadership training for adults with disabilities and parents of children with developmental disabilities, and involves a considerable time commitment on the part of participants; not everyone graduates from the Partners program. Kristina did not miss a single session of the Partners program, and graduated in 2015.

Of her personal experience in the Partners program, Kristina says, “I met new people and learned to speak up for myself.” Although the Partners program has a rigorous curriculum, it was not all work; Kristina adds that she “got to swim in the swimming pool at the hotel” each time she went!

Above: Kristina presents a $500 check from People First to the Little Explorers Club play based learning group of Bowling Green.

Kristina is also President of the local chapter of People First, a self-advocacy organization for persons with disabilities. Kristina has been President of People First for over five years, but nobody in the chapter is clamoring to implement term limits; she just happens to do a very good job as President, and the chapter members recognize this. “She is a very good self-advocate, and can be very helpful and an advocate for others” says chapter Advisor Melony Grote. Melony mentions that Kristina’s participation in both Partners and People First has allowed her to blossom as a public speaker, something she hasn’t always had confidence in. “She’s never really afraid to get up and talk in front of people” Melony says.

Kristina’s strong initiative has shown itself in others ways, from helping plan and organize People First fundraisers to deciding where she wants to live and work. Those on Kristina’s ISP planning team do not need to pry to get her to voice her vision for a good life, and what she does and doesn’t want in her life. “She wants to be a part of the community, and she has good ideas,” mentions Melony.

Kristina is employed at the Pike Shop sheltered workshop.

Kristina lives “out in the sticks” in a nice country home in rural Pike County, and this is her preference. Although her home is off the beaten path, the staff in her home go to great lengths to ensure that Kristina is a full and contributing member of the greater community, and does the things she wants to do socially and recreationally. Kristina likes going to movies with friends, swimming, dining out, and shopping. While at home, Kristina likes to cook, read, and play with her dogs. Kristina graduated from Bowling Green High School in 2006.

Kristina participates virtually year-round in athletic activities, including Special Olympics track and field, bowling, and basketball, and Challenger baseball. Kristina is employed at the Pike Shop sheltered workshop, does a variety of different things there, and mentions that she very much likes working there. Kristina’s vision for her future is to have greater control and independence over as many areas of her life as possible.

Kristina Spears is a success story because her self-advocacy and advocacy for others makes her a role model, not just for other persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but everyone! She does not hesitate to voice her thoughts and feelings on those things that are important to her, and has the courage to practice self-determination in her life.

Because of this and everything else we know about Kristina, we are hereby proposing a minor amendment to the Merriam Webster definition of “initiative”:

ini·​tia·​tive | \ i-ˈni-shə-tiv  also -shē-ə-tiv \

Definition of initiative:  energy or aptitude displayed in initiation of action


Success Story #6: John Ard

Above: John has been employed at Crossroads General Store for several years, and takes his job seriously.

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.

Above: John shows samples of his artwork.

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.

Above: John shows some of the Special Olympics medals he has won over the years.

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…

Success Story #5: Scott Baker

It’s easy to cheer for a winner. Just ask any fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide… like Scott Baker.

Above: Scott uses high tech adaptive controls to operate his new television system.

Scott grew up near Mobile Alabama in the town of Fairhope. In a state that forces you to decide between cheering for the Auburn Tigers or the Alabama Crimson Tide, Scott is definitely a Tide fan. Scott’s family moved to Missouri in 2010, and he lived for a while in Clarksville MO before moving to Bowling Green MO a couple of years ago.

Scott has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, but this has never defined who he is as a person. With a combination of supports provided by Ruth Jensen Village (RJV) and the Pike Co. Agency for Developmental Disabilities (PCADD), Scott lives life to the fullest. Some of the things he likes to do include seeing movies at the Hannibal and Wentzville movie theaters, dining out at Saints Avenue Cafe in Bowling Green, and going to thrift stores. Last year, Scott even had the opportunity to visit his family back in Fairhope Alabama with the help of RJV staff.

Although his mom is still a big part of his life and lives nearby, Scott now lives in his own home in Bowling Green MO with two other roommates. Scott is not currently employed but is looking into volunteering his time at the YMCA is Louisiana MO, and enjoys attending camp each summer at Wonderland Camp at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Scott uses technology to enhance his independence, including an impressive control panel that he uses to operate his brand new big screen television system that would be the crown jewel of any man cave.

Scott still bleeds crimson red in support of his beloved Crimson Tide, but his blood may now have a tinge of blue… since moving to Missouri, Scott has become a big fan of St. Louis Blues hockey. Scott was able to attend the second Blues game of the current season, and of course, they won. Scott is also now a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.

A huge passion of Scott’s is the NASA space program. He would like to one day visit the Kennedy Space Center museum in Cape Canaveral Florida, although he may start closer to home by visiting the Omnimax Theater at the St. Louis Science Center, where an Apollo 11 documentary is scheduled to start in February.

One of Scott’s goals for the immediate future is to start taking classes for his GED, and afterward, attend college and study astronomy.

Yes, it’s easy to cheer for a winner… which probably explains why Scott Baker has so many people cheering for him.

Roll Tide.

Success Story #4: Deryl Edmond

Above: Word Search puzzles are one of the things Deryl likes to do in retirement.

Owning a 1967 Camaro would be a dream come true for many teenagers back in the early 1970s. For Deryl Edmond as a 16 year old, this was in fact no dream, but a reality. The dream quickly turned into a nightmare, though, on a cold rainy night in September of 1973. As he was driving his Camaro on a lonely stretch of highway north of Curryville MO, Deryl topped a hill, and lost control of the car; the Camaro overturned several times, ejecting Deryl into a ditch. It was not until later the next day that a passing motorist found Deryl, mistakenly thinking he was dead. As Deryl tells it, “my face was as blue as my Camaro.” A hearse was originally summoned to the accident scene, but when they realized he was still alive, Deryl says they quickly transported him to Pike County Memorial Hospital in Louisiana MO, and later to Blessing Hospital in Quincy IL. Deryl mentions that he was in a coma for 12 weeks, and when he eventually woke up, he “had to learn everything all over again” due to the head injury he had sustained. “I wasn’t supposed to walk or talk again”, Deryl says. His doctors at the time said he would be “a vegetable” for the rest of his life. “I guess I heard them say that when I was unconscious, and I wanted to prove them wrong”, Deryl says.

Did he ever!

Not more than a year or so after his accident, Deryl was walking across the stage in 1975 at Bowling Green High School to a standing ovation as he received his diploma. Today, Deryl is enjoying retirement in his own home that he shares with two other roommates in Bowling Green MO. Throughout the years, Deryl has never allowed his head injury and the physical and mental challenges this has presented to prevent him from being successfully employed in the community and living his own life. He has worked as a custodian at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Monroe City MO as well as at St. Clement Catholic Church in St. Clement MO. Darrell recently retired, but does keep busy doing things he likes to do.

Deryl is an avid outdoorsman, and although he is no longer an active turkey hunter as he once was, he mentions that fishing is something he may still be up to doing on occasion, and a trip or two to Bass Pro may also be in his future!  

Deryl likes to attend the Bluegrass Festivals in Curryville and looks forward to visits with his family who live in the Curryville area. Deryl likes to play cards and do word search puzzles while at home. He attends the Cowboy Church in Bowling Green and is also an active member of People First, a self-advocacy organization for persons with developmental disabilities.

Deryl receives residential supports in his home from Ruth Jensen Village (RJV) and Community Integration supports from the Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities (PCADD). These supports enable Deryl to be an active and contributing member of the greater Pike County Missouri area, and allow him to do the things he wants in retirement.

Deryl Edmond is a success story because he has proved all of the naysayers wrong. Not only did he survive a terrible car crash when he was young, his dedication and work ethic to rehabilitate his body and mind after sustaining his head injury eventually led to him to being successfully employed, living in his own home, and living life on his own terms.

If there is any truth to the adage that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, Deryl Edmond might just be able to go toe to toe with Superman at this point!

Success Story #3: Adrienne Becker

Above: Adrienne shows off some of her coloring artwork.

Adrienne Becker is a very talented young lady… just ask anyone who has seen her artwork! Adrienne’s art includes everything from painting and coloring to diamond art and string art. On any given day while at the PCADD Community Living Skills (CLS) program, Adrienne can be found either diligently working on her artwork or getting ideas from Pinterest using an I-Pad.

“Once she learns something, she just does it by herself” comments Deann Myers, her support staff with PCADD. PCADD staff initially introduced Adrienne to the world of arts and crafts, and have nurtured her interest in this area ever since. Deann also mentions that Adrienne has a real interest in exploring new forms of art, and this keeps staff on their toes.

Above: String art is something Adrienne is becoming accomplished at.

Artwork is her passion, but Adrienne has also seen success in other areas of her life throughout the years. Although content in her current situation in the PCADD CLS program, Adrienne has been successfully employed in the community in the past using supports provided by PCADD, and does not rule out pursuing employment again in the future, if it is a good fit for her. Adrienne has also volunteered her time with organizations such as Head Start and the Salvation Army.

Aside from honing her art skills while at CLS, Adrienne is also supported in accessing the community, doing things such as shopping and dining out. Adrienne lives in the community in a home with supports provided by Ruth Jensen Village, who also support Adrienne in accessing the greater Bowling Green area while she is at home.

Adrienne gets many of her artwork ideas from Pinterest. Above, Adrienne uses an I-Pad at the PCADD CLS program to explore Pinterest.

As far as future goals are concerned, Adrienne would like to attend formal art classes or an art school to further develop her skills as an artist. Although her artwork is just a hobby right now, Adrienne states, “I might want to try and sell it someday”.

Get out your checkbooks everyone!

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