I was an eighteen-year-old fresh out of high school, when my life took a traumatic turn. I had never considered a path for my life which involved working with people with Developmental Disabilities. I had every intention of graduating from Cornell University and becoming a Government / Accounting teacher, as well as a Track and Field and Football coach. However, due to some bad decisions that I made during my senior year of high school, that path was closed.
My father, who worked as the Chief Fiscal Officer for the Summit County Executive, introduced me to Summit County Board of Developmental Disabilities as a substitute assistant instructor. The first day I began this new journey, I already knew God had given me a new purpose in life. I wanted to soak in all that I could about this new world. On top of being a substitute, I also had the great fortune of being hired by Metropolitan Akron Residential Services to become a worker for a group home sponsored by the Reymann Foundation. In this group home, named the Reymann Home, lived 16 men with a wide variety of disabilities.
It is said that when one path is closed, another one is opened if a person allows God that opportunity to shine his light for this path. This is a true description of my life.
Athletic Director of All Star Training Club (ATC)
The best education I ever received in this field came from my time at the Reymann Home. Members from the Reymann family themselves always took a highly active role at the home. I still recall many nights where the residents of the home would be in the grand living room or out on the porch listening to the stories shared by members of the Reymann family. The sheer laughter coming from the residence is still with me today. I often state that the best lesson I ever learned in this field came from one of my co-workers, who told me that our job is to make the Reymann House a home – living with the residents and sharing real life experiences with them.
It is from those three years that my current career path was born. I continued to work for Summit DD as an instructor for 12 years, concentrating on people with behavioral disabilities. While I worked, I finished my degree as a K-12 Special Education teacher at night. During that time, I also coached Weaver High School’s Track and Field program (1983-1987).
In 1994, I left the county and began my career as a teacher/coach at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School in Akron. My main role at SVSM has been to teach and manage the Career Education track of students with developmental disabilities or those that want to go directly into the work industries upon graduation. I am also the Head Coach for the boys’ and girls’ Cross Country and Track and Field teams. I also continue to operate the ATC. However, in 2014, thanks to the generosity of United Disability Services, I merged ATC as the recreational/sports arm for UDS. It is now called UDS-All Star Training Club.
It was in 1987 that God had additional plans for me. I created the All Star Training Club (ATC) with the theme of “Reach out – Fill the Void – Feel the Excitement.” ATC is a non-profit organization established for the purpose of providing athletic opportunities to people with or without disabilities at any age. ATC is designed as a year-round sports program that mirrors interscholastic sports as well as intramural style sports. ATC is also a sponsored Special Olympics organization. Thanks to my early education from the Reymann family members and my time at the home, I formed ATC out of the concept that ALL individuals should be given the opportunity to shine and show their true identity.
I have been working in this field for 40 years. I truly believe that if it were not for the Reymann Foundation’s influence and guidance, I wouldn’t have found my true path. As I draw near the end of my professional career, I find myself reminiscing a great deal about those evenings at the Reymann home with the residents from the home alongside the members of the Reymann family. I can still see the true sincerity that was demonstrated every time they interacted with the residents. They treated each resident as an equal, God-loving individual. It is from these memories that I will continue to attempt to live out their example through my ATC program or any other way God has in mind for me. God sends messengers to guide each of us down the path. The Reymann family/foundation were my messengers.