My brother, Jon, is 30 and has Down Syndrome. Thanks to my mother and father’s passion and the wonderful staff at Batesville Schools, Jon has grown into a wonderful, well-rounded individual. At Batesville Middle and High Schools, Mentor Melvin Siefert opened doors for Jon that no one expected. He allowed Jon to be the student manager of the basketball team for Batesville High School for 6 years “coaching” players like Michael Menser. Jon quickly became a well-accepted member of the teams and the school, allowing him to cherish every moment until he graduated at age 21 in 2003. As the only BHS student who got a standing ovation during the graduation ceremony that year, Jon was left with a void in what to do with himself after high school.
Soon the Y filled that vacancy. Master Dwenger and his black belts took Jon under their wing and created a Special Needs Tae Kwon Do program. Jon regularly attended class 4 days a week striving to meet his personal goal to become a black belt. He also had been given the opportunity to be a volunteer instructor helping youth and adult participants reach their goals. After 4 years in the Y’s program, Jon achieved his goal! He earned his Black Belt! What an accomplishment for Jon, but even more so the testament to the compassion of the Y’s staff to give Jon the opportunity to discover his passion, and under their guidance believed in his potential and helped him reach it!
Jon’s accomplishments could not have been possible without the support of the Y’s annual campaign. He has a lot of pride when he is able to pay for things with his hard-earned money from working in the BMS school cafeteria. Funds from our campaign subsidize a portion of his membership and allow him the opportunity to set a goal, meet it, and now give back to other youth in the class by being a volunteer in the Tae Kwon Do program.
- Angie Johnson, Executive Director