LIMA — Years before Richie Ogle Jr. was eligible for the Exchange Club of Lima’s Accepting the Challenge of Excellence award, Perry High School Guidance Counselor Linda Hoersten knew he would be her nominee.
“Richie’s physical challenges that he faces on a day-to-day basis is more than what most of us face in a lifetime,” an emotional Hoersten said Monday. “But every day he comes to school, ready to tell the next joke or say a line from his favorite movie.”
Seven senior students received ACE honors today, with Ogle taking home the top award.
The ACE Awards recognize high school students who have achieved excellence despite diversity in their lives. Students often have overcome great physical, emotional or social obstacles, yet few get recognition.
“There are students who have done really well despite adversity in their lives, and so we wanted to recognize that,” said Angie Herzog, program chairperson.
Ogle has faced physical challenges his whole life. Born prematurely, he had a stroke at birth and weighed two pounds. He spent the first two years in the hospital. Today, he maintains a 3.56 grade-point average and is 11th in his high school class.
“It was quite shocking, actually,” the son of Richard Ogle and Angel Woods said of the award. “I did not think I would get this far. … It was quite difficult. I did not think I was going to be able to get through elementary school or even go into junior high or high school.”
The stroke continues to affect the right side of Ogle’s body. Doctors said he would never walk or talk. Woods said the family never let those words stop them.
“We always lived by the rule, ‘never say I can’t.’ And he has succeeded,” she said. “I am very proud of him. He works hard, and he always smiles. Ne is never upset. He just keeps going. He always wants to be successful.”
Ogle takes post-secondary classes at Rhodes State College and will continue there after he graduates. He is undecided on a major. He is on Perry’s baseball team and in the Varsity P Club. Despite his physical challenges, Ogle has done several walks to raise awareness about premature birth and violence against women.
Ogle credits his success to his “determination, courage and will to believe in myself.”
Also recognized Monday were Jordan Coulter, of Elida; Brianna Dunnigan, of Lima Senior; Zachary Kipp, of Shawnee; Amanda Smock, of Apollo Career Center; Corinne Metzger, of Delphos Jefferson; and Alexander Turner, of Lima Central Catholic. The students have faced various challenges. A few overcame financial challenges, including one who is homeless, and others faced learning disability and family issues.
Area guidance counselors submitted nomination letters, and a panel of judges selected the final winner. Each winner received $100. Ogle received $500 and will represent the local group in the district competition.