Jefferson Awards: Rachael and Cameron Staley


By Merri Hanjora - mhanjora@limanews.com



The Jefferson Awards is sponsored by The Lima News, Your Hometown Lima Stations, the United Way of Greater Lima and Husky Energy. Eight winners were selected from the entries. One of the eight winners will be chosen March 27 to attend the national Jefferson Awards banquet, held in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, March 14: Terri Beasley

Thursday, March 15: Bev Beery

Friday, March 16: Lynda Best

Monday, March 19: Earl Lhamon

Tuesday, March 20: Dave Roznowski

Wednesday, March 21: Bill Roeder and Jack Rex

Today: Rachael and Cameron Staley

Friday, March 23: Deborah Zwez

LIMA — Rachael and Cameron Staley, of Lima, are the voice for area disabled children and their families. They are 2018 Jefferson Award winners. The couple have been instrumental in the formation of the Abilities Baseball League, the construction of a ball diamond for the Abilities Baseball League and the “Night to Shine” prom for students with special needs.

“Since 2007, Rachael and Cam were married, they have worked hand in hand with the same goal, to make this the best program for these kids. Rachael and Cameron’s heart is with the Special Needs community and have touched many lives through this program,” said Tom and Dottie Chapman, nominators.

Rachael is employed by the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Her husband, Cameron, is a teacher and coach at Allen East Local Schools. They have three children ages seven, five and three.

Rachael developed the Abilities Baseball League when she was a senior at Bluffton College and while interning at the Children’s Development Center in Lima.

“I really just saw, in looking programs, it stops in the summer months. There’s not much going on for them. There’s not a baseball league for these kids. Lima City Parks were gracious to open up two of the diamonds for us on a Sunday night. I had no idea really where it would go after that. That first year we had about 52 kids that came out and played on that Sunday night and it’s been going on ever since,” said Rachael.

Cameron Staley was a volunteer at the first game and they’ve been together ever since.

Currently there are roughly 100 to 112 kids that take part in the Abilities Baseball League. This summer the kids will be playing on their own field at UNOH.

“One of the neat things about the field here as opposed to some of these other places, this has been much more of a community partnership. Dr. Jeff Jarvis at UNOH has been unreal. I mean giving us the land, donating the additional $25,000 on top of that just all of the things that he’s done to push this project and the Rotary Club donating $100,000 to really kind of get the ball rolling in terms of fundraising; Randy and Dana Jones of R&D Excavating. You can’t put a dollar amount on the amount of work that Randy and Dana have done for us. Spallinger Millright with our dugout, just so many community partners,” said Cameron.

The couple truly have a heart for the kids and the parents of the kids. One night Cameron was scrolling on Facebook when he saw information on “A Night to Shine,” through the Tim Tebow Foundation. He contacted his pastor at the time, Randy Davis asking him about getting on-board with it. Davis told Cameron to write the letter.

“We were the last church that year to be approved,” said Cameron.

Neither the Abilities Baseball League nor A Night To Shine lack volunteers.

“Every year we’ve done A Night to Shine we’ve had more than 200 volunteers from our church and the community. We’ve had over 100 ONU students volunteer to be dates for all these kids, we’ve had a class from Rhodes State College volunteer to be dates too, ” said Cameron.

The Staley’s are passionate about serving the children with disabilities as well as their parents.

“Every kid deserves to play baseball and every kid deserves to go to prom and every one of their parents deserve the chance to see them hit a baseball and go to prom,” said Cameron.

“Truly some of these nights are the only time these parents will see their kids hit a ball, get a trophy or be crowned prom king or prom queen,” said Rachael. “That’s almost my favorite part of the night is watching these parents get to see these experiences for their kids.”

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By Merri Hanjora

mhanjora@limanews.com

The Jefferson Awards is sponsored by The Lima News, Your Hometown Lima Stations, the United Way of Greater Lima and Husky Energy. Eight winners were selected from the entries. One of the eight winners will be chosen March 27 to attend the national Jefferson Awards banquet, held in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, March 14: Terri Beasley

Thursday, March 15: Bev Beery

Friday, March 16: Lynda Best

Monday, March 19: Earl Lhamon

Tuesday, March 20: Dave Roznowski

Wednesday, March 21: Bill Roeder and Jack Rex

Today: Rachael and Cameron Staley

Friday, March 23: Deborah Zwez

Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.

Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.

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