By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor
MOUNT VERNON - The Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities held its annual DD Awareness Month luncheon and awards ceremony Tuesday at MVNU's Ariel Hall with more than 150 providers, employers, business people, elected officials, family and friends in attendance. Locally, the board has been serving individuals for 60 years. The state of Ohio is celebrating 50 years of providing DD services with the theme, "Always There."
Superintendent Steve Oster said the board serves about 550 individuals with developmental disabilities in Knox County starting with children from birth to age 3 with the Help Me Grow and Early Intervention programs. Children who have access to DD services before age 3 have less likelihood of needing DD services as adults.
Adults served by the board have found work with local employers and receive services from a multitude of providers.
One of those adults served is Brad Porter of Fredericktown. He has worked at a number of local businesses throughout his 42 years including MVNU, Pizza Hut and Ver-Mac Industries. He says he wishes that people knew that DD individuals would like to be treated equally and to be given a chance to work.
Another adult receiving DD services is Mary Rouse of Mount Vernon who is retired as Sgt. of Arms at the American Legion post. She enjoys travelling. Mary says, "It hurts when people stare at us."
Stacy Grassbaugh works at Kroger as a bagger and has lived in Knox County for five years. When she was asked what she wants people to know about those with developmental disabilities she said, "Do not tease us, make fun of us, or stare at us."
The event concluded with the presentation of awards to the following:
Melissa LeFever - Support Professional
Cherish Bell - Support Professional
Joshua Harlan - Individual Achievement
Knox County Health Department (accepted by health commissioner Julie Miller) - Partner of the Year
Crossfit 1808 (Katie Quitnter Fiorilli) - Volunteer of the Year
Lee Ann Snyder - Distinguished Service
Zachary Hull - Youth Advocate
To find out more about Knox County DD watch this YouTube video shown at Tuesday's luncheon.
Award winners at the annual DD awareness luncheon on Tuesday. Front row L to R: Lee Ann Snyder, Distinguished Service; Cherish Bell and Melissa LeFever, Support Professionals. Back row L to R; Zachary Hull, Youth Advocate, James Aurand and Joshua Harlan, Individual Achievement. Not pictured, Julie Miller of the Knox County Heath Department, Partner of the Year; Katie Quitnerr Fiorilli, Volunteer of the Year. KnoxPages.com photo by Marty Trese.
The Knox County Board of DD will be wrapping up its DD Awareness Month activities with the Celebrity Omelet and Pancake Dinner on March 23rd to be held 4pm – 6:30pm at the New Hope Early Education Center: 11700 Upper Gilchrist Road, Mount Vernon. KnoxPages.com's Marty Trese will be serving pancakes begining at 4:30. KP readers are encouraged to attend the dinner. Proceeds will be used toward an adaptive playground in Knox County.