Westerville Central Student Awarded As National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist

Meet Sarah! Sarah is an exceptional young lady who is not only incredibly intelligent but is also heavily involved in her community. She is a member of National Honor Society, Key Club, Spanish Club and Board Game Club. Outside of her extracurricular activities at school, Sarah has worked as a ZooAide for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, volunteered at the Westerville Public Library’s Summer Reading Program and worked at the Stratford Ecological Center. In addition to all of these activities, Sarah works eight hours a week at Kroger in their Click List department.

As a junior, Sarah was invited by Nationwide Children’s Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders to participate in a panel discussion at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Nearly 80 medical students converged to hear from a panel of four people who are on the autism spectrum. “Not only did the students learn about autism, but they also saw me as more than my disorder,” Sarah shared.

While Sarah works and is very involved in a variety of clubs, she has made time for her schoolwork and done quite well. Sarah has an accumulative GPA of 4.6251 and was recently notified that she is a semifinalist for a National Merit® Scholarship. In her application for the National Merit®Scholarship Program, Sarah wrote about her journey through autism. At the end of her essay Sarah wrote the following:

“I may always struggle with regulating my emotions and fitting in, but whenever I doubt myself, I only have to reflect on my past to see how far I have come. My challenges were great, but my past has paved the way for my future success. As I did on the panel, I can continue sharing my story to inspire others to always improve, no matter how difficult change may seem.”

After high school, Sarah plans to attend either Miami University or The Ohio State University to study zoology and conservation. We asked Sarah what advice she has for others who are considering college and she said, “Go for it! Lots of colleges have disability support programs.” Wherever she chooses to attend, the school will be lucky to have her!

Best of luck to our National Merit® Scholarship semifinalist, Sarah! You’re a success and inspiration to us no matter the outcome of the award.

Meet the Kearns Kids

Addie and Alex are two years apart and share a very typical but also special sibling bond. In addition to their special love for dance, Alex and Addie work together to spread the word about the importance of inclusion. Addie is a fierce advocate for Alex. “[She] is a very caring and funny sister,” Alex shared.


The Kearns family has been participating in the Columbus Buddy Walk for 15 years, raising thousands of dollars for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO).  In 2017, Addie launched Buddies Inc. to help with raising more funds and awareness. She is the youngest Buddy Walk team captain in Columbus. We asked Addie what inspired her to start advocating for her brother and others with disabilities and she said, “When I was in second grade I noticed people not being treated fairly. They’re the same as us and should be included. All Down syndrome is, is a copy of their 21st chromosome. We’re more alike than we are different.”


2017 was a busy year for Buddies Inc. They organized ice cream socials, participated in World Down Syndrome Day, hosted a vendor table of artwork created by Addie, and watched on Facebook Live as Alex’s photo was featured at the Buddy Walk in New York City. Out of 3,000 submissions, Alex’s photo was chosen as one of the select few to feature in Times Square.


When Addie grows up, she is considering a few different career options — occupational therapist, dance therapy, or potentially working as an advocate. As for Alex, he hasn’t decided what we would like to do after college. In the meantime, he stays busy as the ball boy for the soccer team, playing basketball, spending time with friends, and learning new dances.


We asked Addie what was next for Buddies Inc. and she shared they will start raising funds for the 2019 Buddy Walk! Additionally, she hopes to increase her Instagram followers for @buddies._.inc and hopefully get her biggest role model @ellentv to follow her back!


Keep up the great work Addie and Alex! We love your enthusiasm and appreciate your desire to create a more inclusive world.

Meet Andrea

Andrea has worked for the Foot & Ankle Wellness Center for almost four years. As an active participant in the Delaware community, Andrea knows many of the patients that come through the door. She is always a smiling face that welcomes people to the Center. “She is fun and sociable” shared her supervisor. “Andrea is always looking for things to do.”


For the most part, Andrea’s work at the Foot & Ankle Wellness Center consists of shredding and scanning documents. Andrea likes to stay busy and when she has free time, she helps the marketing department fill goodie bags for upcoming events.


Outside of work Andrea likes to play Wii bowling, attend For Friends and community events, and watch her favorite shows Rosanne and the Last Man Standing.


We asked Andrea what advice she has for others who are thinking about applying for a job. She said, “Go and see how you like it. Check it out before you apply.” Andrea enjoys participating in the office’s Fifth Wednesday events. On months that have a fifth Wednesday, the office closes early and goes out into the community to volunteer or do team building activities.


When talking about the support she receives from her Support Administrator at the County Board Andrea said, “I like working with her. She knows everything and helps me out. She is my role model.”


We are happy to see Andrea enjoying her longtime employment with the Foot & Ankle Wellness Center! #EmploymentFirst