Teresa Shapland goes above and beyond in her duties as a direct support professional at ADEC – literally.

Teresa, who has been supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Elkhart County for more than a decade, has been recognized as one of the most outstanding professionals in her field in the state of Indiana.

Teresa was named a recipient of the 2017 Outstanding DSP Award by INARF, a statewide trade organization representing more than 14,500 people who work to provide quality care for people with disabilities.

Teresa had never been on an airplane before. But on Feb. 17, she boarded her very first flight so that one of her clients, Dianne Hampshire, could attend her son’s wedding in Arizona.

Dianne, who has epilepsy and has received ADEC services since 1995, had been separated from her son nearly a decade ago when another facility she had been staying at refused to provide information to her son, Richard, about her newest residence. So much time had passed from the last time Dianne had heard from her son that she had assumed he was dead.

When Dianne moved into ADEC supported living and day services, ADEC staff helped her reconnect with Richard. The two talked on the phone regularly and sent each other cards and gifts for special occasions. Then a big milestone approached: Richard was to be married in February 2017, and he wanted his mother to stand by his side.

The catch? The wedding was in Arizona, and Dianne had never flown before. Still, Teresa was determined to make it happen. Teresa knew how important family was to Dianne. After working through the logistics and finances, the two gathered their courage and booked a flight together.

Although she was secretly terrified, Teresa maintained a strong front to hide her fear of flying so Dianne could feel comfortable and at ease. Navigating an airport can be daunting and stressful for the most seasoned traveler – and it can be even more so when a client is also in need of support.

Teresa and Dianne arrived safely in Arizona and enjoyed their weekend spent shopping, staying in a hotel, eating at new restaurants and – of course – attending a wedding. Dianne was the only member of Richard’s family to attend, and Teresa could tell how much it meant to him to have his mother there.

Since she returned from Arizona, Dianne carries a picture with her at all times of her and Richard on his wedding day. The smile on Dianne’s face is proof of the impact Teresa has on her life.

“She is generous and gracious with her clients,” said Dawn Akins, director of supported living at ADEC. “She is patient and always takes the time to explain to her clients why things are the way they are. Her passion and dedication are admirable. She never says no and she’ll go wherever she is needed, even if that is halfway across the country on an airplane.”

Teresa accepted the INARF award during a luncheon in Fishers on Wednesday. More than 20 of her ADEC colleagues were in attendance to show their support.

ADEC professionals are consistently recognized on the state level for their leadership and compassion.

Fred Todd, an ADEC direct support professional who has worked in an ADEC group home for nearly 30 years, received the Outstanding DSP Award in 2016.

Chacriyar “Yar” Chhuon earned the prestigious Keystone Award in 2016 after he ran the Chicago Marathon pushing Kyle Hankins, one of the men he supports, in a wheelchair after Kyle shared his dream of completing the 26.2 miles. The duo were featured in a Kleenex commercial for the accomplishment.

“ADEC’s nearly 400 employees have a real, positive and personal impact on the more than 1,000 people we serve,” said ADEC CEO and President Donna Belusar. “Direct support professionals are the lifeline of our organization. Their jobs are difficult and exhausting, but the work our DSPs do is nothing short of incredible. We are so lucky to have professionals like Teresa on our team to help people with disabilities lead lives full of choice and possibility.”