A Heidelberg University group is trying to raise awareness of people with disabilities, and it's bringing two teenagers with disabilities, including one who has aspirations to be a motivational speaker, to campus next month.
Rich Ulmer, a Heidelberg sophomore from Galion studying early childhood education and special education, said Heidelberg Awareness of Needs and Disabilities is a relatively new group on campus and was put together by education and intervention specialist students. It hasn't had too many events, but students are trying to kick it off, said Ulmer, a member of the group.
The goal of the organization is to make students aware of people with disabilities, he said.
"They're just like you and I," he said.
The group is making plans for various activities to be Feb. 13-16. Some of the potential plans include selling T-shirts and other items, handing out erasers and pencils, and selling bags prior to a basketball game and having a shooting contest Feb. 15.
The week is to conclude with an event 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16 in Wickham Great Hall. Cousins James Dunlap, 17, and Dylan Everage, 16, who have physical disabilities, are to speak.
According to information Ulmer provided, Dunlap was born with an abnormal spot on his brain. When he was 6 months old, he was taken to a neurologist and was diagnosed with moderate mental retardation with autistic tendencies. He is in special needs classes at a regular school, the release states.
According to the information, Everage is immobile, wheelchair confined and smarter than the average 16-year-old. He weighed 2 pounds, 13 ounces at birth and was born at 29 weeks gestation.
His first diagnosis was cerebral palsy, and he has gone through more than 90 surgeries, including pacemaker, G-tube, J-tube, fundoplications, leg amputation and colostomy. He is on four pain medications and two breathing treatments, info states.
People have looked down on Everage for a long time, Ulmer said.
"He's just been struggling, basically," he said.
Ulmer said Everage wants to be a motivational speaker.
"Why not give him a chance?" he asked.