On Thursday, Oct. 26, ADEC blew out the candles on its 65th year with an Annual Celebration filled with reflection, friendship and laughter.

Our Annual Celebration took place at the Lerner Theatre’s Crystal Ballroom, where friends of ADEC, clients and staff members gathered to hear about the forward progress ADEC continues to make for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties.

We recognized Cindie McPhie, outgoing board chair, for her 15 years of service to ADEC. She shared about how her time at ADEC has been filled with “grounding moments” and how the people we serve continue to hold a special place in her life.

Rachel Simon, award-winning author of “Riding the Bus with My Sister,” delivered a keynote address where she recognized the tremendous difference ADEC’s Direct Support Professionals make each day. She shared how DSPs have transformed her sister’s life, and she recognized the work that happens each day at ADEC as DSPs make it possible for ADEC clients to experience choice and possibility in every aspect of their lives.

The highlight of the evening took place when five ADEC clients were recognized for ADEC’s annual awards. These awards are the result of a rigorous nomination process in which all ADEC staff members can nominate the people they serve. ADEC’s Mission Advancement department received more than 60 nominations, which we then whittled down to the top three for each category, based on each individual’s story.

From there, the nominations are thrown back out to ADEC staff members to read and place a vote in each category. This year’s awards and winners were –

Dare to Dream

This award goes to the client who models determination, persistence, perseverance and a positive attitude in spite of obstacles. This person clearly enjoys life and doesn’t waste a single opportunity to seize the day.

Mary Lou Hollinger

Mary Lou has recently been diagnosed with kidney cancer. She is choosing to not get treatment so she can live the rest of her life to the fullest. She is always very positive and ready to take on each day a

s it comes. Some days are harder than others, but she ALWAYS tries to do as much as she can – whether it be as simple as walking to her chair at the table. She loves to make her bead necklaces, and when she goes shopping at Goodwill, she is happy for days about it. She understands what is going on when you ask her, but she is always determined to take control of her life and live it the way she wants to. – Molly Mullins, Medflex at Bridlewood Group Home

Weekday Warrior

Isaiah was unable to attend, so Gail Vance accepted his award on his behalf.

This award goes to the client who works hard and appreciates the value of employment. This person may be employed in the community or enjoy work services at ADEC Industries.

Isaiah Davis

Isaiah has limited use of his arms/hands. He works three days a week at ADEC Industries. Speaking is so difficult for Isaiah. Each day he comes to work happy, saying hi to his coworkers and me. He struggles to do most jobs physically, but tries as best he can. He discovered that he could use holes that have been drilled in the tabletop to put plastic collets on screws (a frequent job). The collet is supposed to snap on the screw and be tight. Isaiah uses the screw to push the collet in the hole and then pushes the screw in place. The collet snaps on tight and Isaiah is able to put completed assembly in his box.

Isaiah is a good role model for others who tend to complain. He is happy for every job he gets to do. Isaiah never complains when he has a job he struggles to complete. Isaiah gets his own parts when he sees I am busy and may not be able to stop and get him parts. Isaiah looks for jobs as he is going to his work station.

Isaiah has DJ equipment and DJs at some PFI activities. He also does some community events. – Gail Vance, Group Leader at ADEC Industries

World Changer

This award goes to the client who loves to give back to their community. This person may have a regular community service commitment or may demonstrate leadership skills through leading activities, participating in client groups or taking the initiative to address issues when they arise.

Nate Griffey

Nathan is one who just keeps going and doesn’t let his personal life and disability get in the way. Nathan over the past year has had to deal with close family members passing away, but he continues to persevere and push forward. He is constantly helping his peers at Day Program whether it is a peer needing help carry their coffee, opening a door, or playing a card game Nathan is the one to jump up and offer assistance. Nathan will then in the evenings join all the extra curriculum activities like bowling and Aktion Club. Nathan also is on the Self Advocates Board on Indiana and in the past year pursued a job and now works in the evenings at the McDonald’s in Middlebury. To us he is the energizer bunny and is one to always have a smile on his face. – Margaret Cook, Team Manager at ADEC’s Day Services at Middlebury

Creative Spirit

This award goes to the client who embodies the purpose of ADEC’s art program – expressing oneself, discovering joy and exercising untapped creative potential. Maybe this person discovered art for the first time this year, possesses a unique view point or has a true joy for the craft.

Marlin Miller

Marlin is always a bright and smiling face when I go over to B2. He gladly shows me his current plastic canvas yarn project. This year we were asked by a gallery to show client art. This was a very big opportunity for our clients. We have several clients who have already been recognized for their ADEC Art. Marlin is not one of those clients. However, Art Lead Maria saw something special in Marlin. She worked with him to try his hand at painting. And what we found is he is brilliant! He is drawn to painting animals. But his animals are special. They are courageous and brave and come with names that inspire. They are bright and unique and very popular. Two of his works were sold at the gallery sale and two others are hanging in B1’s break room. Marlin has a robust laugh and a joy really shined through his paintings. I hope we see many more works by Marlin. – Jessica Koscher, Chief Development Officer

Heart of the Game

This award goes to the client who demonstrates sportsmanship on and off the court. The person who encourages while bowling, gives second chances during basketball and leaves it all out on the field at kickball.

Robert Moss

He is no longer able to play basketball, but he comes every week to be my assistant manager for the team. He loves the game and doesn’t want to give it up! – Becky Curtis, Activity Coordinator